USA. 92min. 2002. Silver Sphere Corporation. Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce, Heidi Marnhout, Bob Ivy, Larry Pennell. Music: Brian Tyler; Cinematography: Adam Janeiro; Produced by: Don Coscarelli & Jason Savage ; Based on a Story by: Joe Lansdale; Written by: Don Coscarelli; Directed by: Don Coscarelli.
Upon hearing a brief description of Bubba Ho-tep, one might assume that it was an intensely campy, irreverent B-movie that was pretty thin on characterization. The plot, can, after all, be summed up to some extent with the phrase, â€œElvis versus a mummy.â€ Itâ€™s easy to imagine some caricatured version of the King of Rock nâ€™ Roll taking on the monster. By now Elvis as an icon is as much a part of our collective subconsciousâ€”and as likely to be a Halloween costumeâ€”as any creature from the old Universal horror films. Elvis impersonators, Elvis on velvet, Elvisâ€™ face repeated again and again like an Andy Warhol silkscreen; the idea of Elvis has become a vaguely tacky pop culture touchstone. Yet thankfully, Bubba Ho-tep is a more complex, and far more interesting, film than that phrase â€œElvis versus a mummyâ€ can convey. Writer-director Don Coscarelli, working from a short story by the idiosyncratic Joe R. Lansdale, succeeds in humanizing his Elvis and developing him far beyond a few rhinestones and a curled lip. As played by Bruce Campbell (himself a horror movie icon owing to his indispensable presence in Sam Raimiâ€™s Evil Dead trilogy), this Elvis becomes a hero to root for, not an object of ridicule.