Stuff I Watch in October: Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

bubba ho-tep

Happy October and welcome! All 31 days this month, I will be reviewing all the films I watch in the month of October. They’re mostly a selection of horror or suspense films in my own library or films and shows that have been recommended to me.

Please enjoy and leave a comment!

And if you missed any of our past reflections, take a look:

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Psycho (1960)
The Haunting (1963)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The Other (1972)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Halloween (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Shining (1980)
Halloween II (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Halloween III – Season of the Witch (1982)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Teen Wolf (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Predator (1987)
The Monster Squad (1987)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
They Live (1988)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Predator 2 (1990)
The Addams Family (1991)
Alien 3 (1992)
Army of Darkness (1992)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Crow (1994)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Scream (1996)
Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Scream 2 (1997)
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Scream 3 (2000)
28 Days Later (2002)

Our next film is…

WATCHING: Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

bubba ho-tep

DIRECTOR: Don Coscarelli, who will live forever thanks to Phantasm and The Beastmaster. This is a major return to form for him.

WHAT IS IT?: One of the most original horror comedies I have ever seen.

THE PLOT: It turns out that Elvis Presley didn’t die all those years ago. Elvis (Bruce Campbell) lived out his remaining days at The Shady Rest Retirement Home in Texas. Years ago, he simply switched places with an Elvis impersonator named Sebastian Haff who ended up overdosing on drugs. The issue is that nobody at the rest home believes that he’s Elvis (a fire destroyed all the evidence that proved he is who he says he is) and all think it’s Haff who is going senile.

Elvis’s only friend at Shady Rest is a black man named Jack (the late veteran actor Ossie Davis) — who insists that he’s really John F. Kennedy, claiming that he was “dyed black” following the assassination attempt in Dallas in 1963, and that Lyndon B. Johnson abandoned him shortly after that. And, if all that isn’t enough, there’s an Egyptian soul-sucker that’s been let loose on the rest home, preying on all its residents, pushing Elvis and JFK to take action — even if it’s their last hurrah.

WHAT DID CRITICS THINK?: The critics gave it mostly high marks. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone and Roger Ebert both giving it three stars. Ebert remarked that the film was all silly — but that it was also a feel-good film and one that was also poignant.

bubba ho-tep


WHAT DID I THINK?: Bruce Campbell is brilliant here. As Elvis, he doesn’t overdo it, playing him realistically as a cantankerous old man who had it all and happily tossed it all away, walking away on his own terms — but at the expense of the people he knew in his old life. Ossie Davis is a perfect cohort for Campbell. He’s charming, smart, and has conviction as JFK — and you actually find yourself believing that the two are who they say they are.

Director Don Coscarelli returns in fine form, giving us a tale that, underneath it all, has heart. At times, it’s funny, bordering on hilarious (Elvis battling an ancient Scarab Beetle is just as good as anything he did in the Evil Dead films). At times, it’s poignant and emotional (Elvis lecturing the uncaring daughter of his roommate who died right in front of him is on point as is the moment where Elvis and JFK have their final walk down the main hallway of Shady Rest to take on the mummy).

Yeah. Bubba Ho-Tep is ALL absurd on the surface.

But, if you’re being as dismissive as the people who doubt that Elvis is who he says he is, all I can say is “You’re missing out.”
Bubba Ho-Tep offers you a film about growing old, facing long-time demons, and coming to terms with regret.

I will ALWAYS stand up for this film.


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