Horror-comedy film pits Elvis against an Egyptian Mummy!

Spotlight On The King....on a regular basis EIN examines a new release or issue in the Elvis world. In this edition we shine our spotlight on one of the most unusual films with an Elvis theme: Bubba Ho-Tep - The King of Rock versus The King of the Dead!

Apart from The King's own 33 feature films, the Elvis character has appeared in or inspired countless documentary movies and around a dozen narrative films.  From Elvis: The Movie (starring Kurt Russell) to the more recent releases, Finding Graceland (Harvey Keitel and Bridget Fonda) and 3000 Miles To Graceland (starring Kevin Costner and again, Kurt Russell) the movies range from straight biographies to poignant tales of personal breakthrough and fanciful caper heists.  

However, the latest film featuring the Elvis Presley character is easily the most bizzare in concept - Bubba Ho-tep is a horror film from the Silver Sphere Corporation pitting its chief protagonists, Elvis and JFK against a soul-sucking mummy!

Ooh la la! This is a different sort of movie! And a highly enjoyable one.
Using a twist on the Elvis replaced by an impersonator theme, a pounding rock score, some hilaroius scenes (including the opening scene replete with heiroglyphic sub-titles!) and a climax beyond belief, it all sounds, and is bizzare, but Bubba Ho-Tep is receiving rave reviews at film festivals and in independent media reviews around the world.  

At the Toronto Film Festival hundreds of Elvis fans and film lovers were turned away with the full-house sign being quickly posted as more than 1,000 people took their place to enthusiastically receive the film.  And in his performance as The King, Bruce Campbell delivers what many are saying is the best ever portrayal of Elvis on-screen.

But the $64,000 question is: will any movie distributor take a chance on an Elvis inspired film with such a strange premise or will it be relegated to only a DVD and video release?

Film PR:  The King of Rock vs. The King of Dead Based on the Bram Stoker Award nominee short story by acclaimed author Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-Tep tells the "true" story of what really did become of Elvis Presley.

We find Elvis(Bruce Campbell) as an elderly resident in an East Texas rest home, who switched identities with an Elvis impersonator years before his "death", then missed his chance to switch back. Elvis teams up with Jack (Ossie Davis), a fellow nursing home resident who thinks that he is actually President John F. Kennedy, and the two valiant old codgers sally forth to battle an evil Egyptian entity who has chosen their long-term care facility as his happy hunting grounds…

Critics reviews:

Mind-blowing in its originality, Bubba Ho-Tep transcends the "late-night cult" genre by virtue of captivating performances by Campbell and Davis, and the assured direction of Don Coscarelli. Coscarelli handles the bizarre material with such precision that you actually believe that Elvis and JFK are alive and not quite well. He treats the characters, and old age for that matter, with such respect that no matter how absurd things become, you are completely with him.  Bubba Ho-Tep, with its cinematic flash and terrifically offbeat humor, is a fantastic story of redemption, courage and friendship.' (2002 CineVegas International Film Festival)

'Bubba Ho-Tep is a wonderful fim with a bravura lead performance that doesn't deserve to leave the building until everyone is aware of it' (Erik Childress, FilmCritic)

'It's like the ultimate B-movie - fun, funny and raucous.  Elvis, dude, you're still the man.  And Don Coscarelli, thank you, thank you very much' (Lynn Jatania, Cinema Scene)

'A significant piece of American cinema (Nick Dijilio, WGN Chicago)

'A goddam ass kicking Bruce Campbell film! (Harry Knowles, Ain't It Cool News)

'Enthusiastically received at its world premiere and seeking distribution -- which it deserves even if it isn't exactly a masterpiece -- "Bubba Ho-Tep" stars Bruce Campbell ("Spider-Man") as the remorseful, sad-sack King in a performance for the ages. Somewhat held back by its budget in the finale and in glimpses of ancient Egypt -- where the cowboy-duds-wearing title creature (Bob Ivy) comes from -- it's still a zinger-filled crowd-pleaser that open-minded Elvis fans (but by no means all) will have fun with.

Among voice-over ruminations over not knowing his daughter, wondering if Priscilla would still love him if she knew he was alive and obsessing over his deteriorating physical condition, Elvis and Jack observe the lumbering, not-very-scary Bubba Ho-Tep enter the rest home at night and consume souls in a very nasty way..........(with) the help of Brian Tyler's rock score that makes one not miss Elvis' music, the final showdown depicting the King in one of his trademark Vegas-era costumes, barely mobile with the help of a walker but being a hero and paying the price, is inspired goofiness and takes care of business' (David Hunter, Las Vegas, June 2002)

Film Details:

BUBBA HO-TEP SilverSphere Corp.

Screenwriter-director: Don Coscarelli

Based on a story by: Joe R. Lansdale

Producers: Don Coscarelli, Jason Savage

Executive producer: Dac Coscarelli

Director of photography: Adam Janeiro

Production designer: Daniel Vecchione

Editors: Donald Milne, Scott J. Gill

Costume designer: Shelley Kay

Music: Brian Tyler

Casting: Jerry Whitworth

Cast: Elvis: Bruce Campbell; Jack: Ossie Davis; The Nurse: Ella Joyce; Callie: Heidi Marnhout; Bubba Ho-Tep: Bob Ivy

Running time -- 92 minutes. No MPAA rating

You can check out the film's website for more information: www.bubbahotep.com

Only time will tell if Bubba Ho-Tep if any distributor is willing to take a chance on such an original and strange concept as Bubba Ho-Tep and give it a theatrical release.  EIN is keeping its fingers crossed for an early general release of this very unusual film which is destined to make the Elvis world "all shook up".

This edition of Spotlight on The King was prepared by Nigel Patterson. © 2003

Postscript: Bubba Ho-Tep was finally picked up by MGM and released on DVD in mid 2004. A limited edition release came with a smorgasbord of extra features.

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