Recipe for a cult film:
Start with a main character who appears to be a total loser, but is actually a cool guy with an arsenal of catchy one-liners. Step Two: assign the main character the task of saving humankind as we know it. Throw in a some kind of supernatural element and at least one supporting character who is completely insane and, Voila! In the case of Bubba Ho-Tep, our loveable loser is a septuagenarian Elvis fighting an angry mummy with the help of his buddy J. F. K.
It turns out the real Elvis didn't die 26 years ago. Tired of fame and lonesome for his family, the real Elvis switched places with an Elvis impersonator named Sebastian Haff. Unfortunately, before Haff and the real Elvis could switch back, Haff died. So the real Elvis, posing as Sebastian Haff, carried out the rest of his days as a nobody and eventually landed in a rest home in Texas.
Other residents of this rest home include a man who believes he is J.F.K. and an ancient mummy who hungers for human souls. Elvis and J.F.K. deduce that the rest home is the mummy's hunting ground where an unlimited supply of human souls are supplied to build the mummy's strength. The pair of old men, forgotten by society, find strength and inspiration in each other. Armed with only a walker, a wheelchair, and a paint gun, they decide to take on the mummy.
Surprisingly, Bubba Ho-Tep doesn't use any Elvis music or footage. Using quick cuts and stock images, the filmmakers have done an excellent job of merely giving the illusion of Elvis. With the money they saved, it appears the filmmakers invested in some giant, dive-bombing CG scarab beetles. The appearance of these bugs is never really explained, but, isn't that just one more hilarious aspect of a cult movie classic?
Bruce "don't call me Ash" Campbell is great as the ancient Elvis. The massive amounts of makeup and fuzzy sideburns do a lot; but no one can deliver lines like,"there are two words for tonight. caution and flammable," like Bruce Campbell. Though Bubba Ho-Tep is not on par with the Evil Dead films, Bruce Campbell fans will welcome his return to the camp/horror genre.
Bubba Ho-Tep is just the right mix of bizarre circumstances, slightly crude humor, creepiness, and all the other elements of a classic cult film. It's a must-see for Bruce Campbell fans and anyone who enjoys an off-beat comedy.
-Megan A. Denny