Film Reviews:

Bubba Ho-Tep

(Don Coscarelli, US, 2002)

[Bubba Ho-Tep]Don Coscarelli's hilarious, scary and moving thriller is one of the best horror comedies of all time. If Shaun of the Dead made you chuckle, then Bubba Ho-Tep will split your sides. It's premise alone is enough to tell you this is a sure-fire winner: Elvis never died. He's 70 years old and living in the 'Shady Rest' care home in Mud Creek, East Texas. When an Egyptian mummy rises from beyond the grave and starts sucking the souls out of the home's old folk, Elvis teams up with black resident Jack, who believes he is JFK, to do battle with the Bubba Ho-Tep.

A brilliant cast is headed by Sam Raimi regular Bruce Campbell in a career-defining performance. Never has an actor nailed the The King's voice so convincingly - especially given that he's playing him 70 years old! Ossie Davies as Jack is the perfect foil to Campbell, and Ella Joyce as the no-nonsense care home nurse is simply terrific. There's even a cameo for Phantasm regular Reggie Bannister. The backstory is cleverly set up too, making the entire scenario sound plausible and even believable.

The dialogue is priceless. The script offers more quotable quotes than any film in recent memory, and the first fourty minutes are a non-stop riot that will have you holding your aching sides. It's based upon a short story by Joe R. Lansdale, and this is reflected in a slightly slow second third. But it all comes together for the monster showdown at the end and the low-budget is never an issue. There's also some nice stuff in there about getting old. It's never mawkish or sentimental, but it still almost brings a tear to your eye. An impressive achievement.

Inexplicably, this has taken two years to find a UK distributor, but don't let that dissuade you one jot, and thank Anchor Bay for giving this the theatrical release it truly deserves. All credit to Don (Phantasm I-IV/Beastmaster) Coscarelli too. His original cult hit Phantasm demonstrated his natural ability to put a smile on your face while he scared the pants off you. This has creepy moments worthy of David Lynch, has more belly laughs than any film in years, and shows a few other recent comedy/horrors more than a thing or two about the genre. A pure delight from start to finish. You won't see a better comedy this year - period. 8/10

Rob Dyer (October 2004)

See also:

Hmm, 'famous (previously believed dead) old folk battle the living dead' is as just about as niche as genres get - this is out there on its own

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