"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






Elvis v The Mummy Elvis lives, in a quirky new comedy film

WHAT if Elvis Presley hadn't died on August 16, 1977, but had swapped places with an obviously talented impersonator who'd suffered the fatal heart attack that made headlines around the world?

Meanwhile, the real Elvis, in his 70s, lives on in the Shady Rest aged persons' home in rural Texas where a companion is Jack, who claims he's actually the late US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, although he's an African-American.

The aged Elvis and the black JFK unite for a joint mission to destroy a 4000-year-old Egyptian mummy named Bubba Ho-Tep who has chosen the Shady Rest as his happy hunting grounds when he comes back to life. That's the intriguing premise of Bubba Ho-Tep, an audacious comedy that was made in America in 2002 by Phantasm director Don Coscarelli from Jose R. Lansdale's short story and now is being released nationally by the Brisbane-based film distribution company, Magna Pacific.

Cult favourite Bruce Campbell, who starred for his Detroit high school friends Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert in the 1979 low-budget hit, Evil Dead, and has had a successful career in independent films (while taking guest spots in films made by close friends such as Spider-Man's Raimi), plays the role of the aged Elvis.

Yet Campbell, 46, says from his ranch in the south of Oregon on America's West Coast that he wasn't someone who held Elvis Presley in awe as "the King".

"When I was at high school in Detroit, Elvis was regarded as someone flaky. He was in his decline a showman a lot like Liberace. How seriously could you take a guy who got around on stage dressed up in a cape? He was dead a year after I finished high school," he says.

But he says he jumped at the chance to portray Presley in Coscarelli's movie.

"Apparently he'd been looking for the right actor for quite a while and when he was telling Sam (Raimi) about his problem in casting the role, Sam thoughtfully suggested he should give me a call."

Campbell, who describes himself as a "gentleman rancher" when he's not acting or writing best-selling books, worked with a Las Vegas Elvis impersonator who also choreographed an Elvis concert sequence for the movie. The actor physically bears a passing resemblance to Elvis, but still required 2 hours in make-up before filming each day as well as climbing into a fat suit to carry off the role of the 70-plus Presley.

The film was made at a former convalescent home for military veterans in Los Angeles with a minimum budget over six weeks.

"It's a true independent movie made without any studio assistance or distribution deal," Campbell says.

He said he did as much as he could to support the film when it screened on the American Landmark cinema circuit, but admits it did not receive the attention he'd hoped in major cities. Campbell says Metro Goldwyn Mayer bought the rights to the DVD release in the United States, which amused him.

"Getting a deal with a major studio like MGM for this little independent movie was amazing. You never think those sorts of things are going to happen."

Campbell says so many movies that are called independent just don't deserve the title, with big-name directors who can get studio distribution deals often involved.

"Of all the Academy Award contenders, you only have Sideways there representing the true independent spirit of movie making," says Campbell, who was named Best Actor for his Presley role at the US Comedy Arts Film Festival sponsored by the HBO network.

Campbell said it was sad his fellow actor Ossie Davis had died in Florida on February 4 aged 87.

"We hit it off during this movie, and he was a great sort of bloke, very concerned about civil rights matters."

Elvis fans should not go to Bubba Ho-Tep expecting to hear the King's famous voice or any of his songs.

"You just can't afford the musical rights for that sort of material. I was involved in a film in which we wanted to use Frank Sinatra's version of Strangers in the Night, but the rights cost more than the film budget.

"We do concert scenes but don't have any Elvis music on the soundtrack. The movie couldn't afford him."

Campbell, who recently directed the TV drama The Man With the Screaming Brain in which he also stars, had a bestseller with his first book, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, and recently has had a new book published, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way. He describes it as a humorous exploration into the nature of relationships set against the misadventures of a pseudo-anonymous actor, such as Bruce Campbell.

Bubba Ho-Tep opens across Australia today.

(Review, Source: Des Partridge, The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, 24 Feb 2005)

Click to read EIN's review of Bubba Ho-Tep

FTD: Kid Galahad
Love, Elvis
CD: Dirty Laundry
FTD: Follow That Dream
CD: We Have Not Rehearsed Them
Book: The Presley Arrangement
Book: Rough Guide to Elvis
CD: Continuing Story of Memory Records
FTD: On Tour Rehearsals
Book: The Elvis Album
CD: Christmas Peace
Book: The Memphis Lullaby
DVD: '68 Comeback Special
DVD: Elvis In Concert (3 hour version)
DVD: This Is Elvis
Hugh Jarrett (Jordanaires)
Elvis vs. wrestler Jerry Lawler!
It's time for an "Elvis' Greatest Hits" DVD!
SFX filing to buy EPE
Thank God 1981 sale of EPE didn't happen
Sale of EPE - good or bad?
Bridge over troubled water
New owner of EPE
Elvis Fans - The Following
Redefining Elvis
How did Elvis die?
Elvis Film Bio
500 million fans can't be wrong?
Bill Burk
Lisa Presley on EPE sale
Larry King transcipt
Red & Sonny West
Paul Simpson
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
Did you miss?
Online Elvis Symposium
Exclusive excerpts from "The King Is Dead"
All about Lisa Presley
All about Graceland
FTD review- Elvis: New Year's Eve
DVD Review: Elvis Presley The Last 24 Hours
Elvis vs. Bing: who really was The King?


Elvis Odd Spot (updated 31 Dec 2004)