Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on July 6th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: USA, June 9th 2002
Director: Don Coscarelli
Writers: Joe R. Lansdale (short story), Don Coscarelli (screenplay)
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce, Heidi Marnhout, Bob Ivy, Daniel Roebuck, Reggie Bannister.
BluRay released: July 12th, 2010
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Stereo 2.0 English & DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
BluRay Release: Anchor Bay UK
Region Coding: Region B PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £19.99
In a sleepy little East Texas nursing home an old man that may or may not be Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) lays in bed contemplating fate and his life in general, oh and the irritating infected growth on his pecker. His melancholy is soon broken however by the realization that something spooky is happening in the Shady Rest Retirement Home. A 3000 year old Egyptian mummy is harvesting the souls of the elderly, sucking the breath of life from them via their antiquated arseholes and crapping the remains out in the visitors lavatory, where he also enjoys writing rude hieroglyphic graffiti on the walls. The King with the help of ex-president John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis), who survived his assassination and was dyed black apparently, sets about sending the evil soulsucker back to hell.
Now come on – that’s a helluva synopsis! Who wouldn’t want to watch that film. And luckily for us this little indie flick delivered on it’s immensely odd premise and became an instant cult classic. Adapted from the short story by Joe R Landsdale and directed by Don Coscarelli, the man behind the excellent Phantasm series (and the original Beastmaster movie) this surpasses the sheer weirdness of the silver ball franchise with ease and adds a healthy dose of heart and humor to the mix. Look out for Phantasm’s own Reggie Bannister as Shady Rest’s head administrator. A truly original genre bending piece of independent cinema, I’d never seen anything quite like it before nor have I since, near enough a decade later. Tentatively pitched by Bruce Campbell as a redemptive/Elvis/mummy picture – attempts at pigeonholing it really can’t do it justice. The acting is excellent throughout from Ella Joyce’s acerbic nurse to JFK himself the late great Ossie Davis but without doubt this is Campbell’s film and surely his finest big screen performance, stripped of corny slapstick horror schtick he brings something quite unexpected to his portrayal of an aging Elvis; depth and pathos. But yes, of course there’s also a healthy dollop of hilarious one-liners and even a deadite tinged farcical encounter with a supernatural scarab beetle to keep the Ash fans happy, although it does seem a little out of place in such an otherwise subtly offbeat flick. That said it’s to Coscarelli’s exceptional credit as a director that this film didn’t just turn out a complete mess; comedy, horror, drama, existential biopic all juggled perfectly and merged together into an affectingly indescribable work of twisted genius. Apparently after the end of principal shooting, while Coscarelli and co sought a distribution deal, the film spent a whole year in post production which perhaps gave the editors, etc the time to really put it together tightly and make it work to it’s full potential.
With rumors bubbling that the long awaited Coscarelli helmed sequel Bubba Nosferatu may finally be upon us, with Ron Perlman allegedly taking over Elvis duties and Colonel Tom Parker to be played by Paul Giamatti (quoted as saying “We’ll definitely get Bubba Nosferatu made. It’s just a question of when and where.”) this may be the best time to finally give this sublime little flick a chance or indeed reacquaint yourself with it in HD!
Presented in 1.78:1, the 1080p transfer looks very good indeed, lush colors, great contrast, solid blacks. Despite some grain this is a huge leap up in picture quality as you’d expect with HD really, details are sharper, etc. The 5.1 lossless DTS-HD Master track allows the excellent musical score and dialogue to come through unhindered. Mostly conversation driven the main track isn’t all that active, when the action picks up so does the audio however, solid and clear. The stereo track is also fine.
Extras are ported over from the previous Anchor Bay SE DVD so don’t expect anything new here. That said it’s a very nice package indeed –
A humorous little intro to the film by Bruce Campbell recorded for the London premiere in 2004.
Audio Commentary by Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell – an excellent track full of candid insights into the making of the film and funny anecdotes from Campbell, the participants obviously had great fun shooting the picture and their passion for filmmaking in general comes through clearly here making for a very enjoyable commentary.
Audio Commentary by “The King” – Campbell channels Elvis again for his very own commentary track in character as ‘The King’. Sporadically funny it’s worth a listen but perhaps for Campbell fans only!
Six deleted scenes with optional commentary from Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell – short scenes excised for pace and time, nothing note worthy.
The Making of Bubba Ho-Tep – 24 minute documentary assembling all of the cast and crew for some talking heads style interviews.
The King And I: An In-depth Excavation With Don Coscarelli – a 20 minute interview with the director in which he goes into greater detail about the script, casting Campbell and Davis, getting the film financed, and obtaining a distribution deal.
UK Premiere Q&A – 10 minutes of the amiable Coscarelli answering questions at the 2004 London premiere. Interesting and informative, look out for Shaun Of The Dead director Edgar Wright and actor Nick Frost making an appearance here as well.
Bruce Talks Bubba – An 11 minute interview with Campbell. Enthusiastic as always he goes into greater detail about how he got involved in the production and how he prepared to play an aging Elvis Presley.
To Make a Mummy (6 mins) and Fit For A King (8 mins) – a pair of featurettes in which costume designer Shelley Kay and the effects team discuss creating the mummy and the Elvis’ clothing.
Rock Like an Egyptian – an 8 minute featurette with Coscarelli and composer Brian Tyler discussing the film’s soundtrack.
Joe R. Lansdale Reads from Bubba Ho-Tep – The author reads excerpts from his story over a collection of stills and artwork.
Plus the original theatrical trailer, photo gallery and a music video featuring Tyler’s main theme.