Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Horror, Humor, and Redemption: Bubba Ho-Tep lives!

The moment I heard the title of Bubba Ho-Tep, I was enchanted. It reminded me of a sleazy little "roadside attraction" I remember from a trip during my childhood, a place in which a creepy Egyptian theme turned a few lethargic snakes and an alligator into sinister ambassadors of King Tut himself. To the grownups, the whole thing was a waste of time (and money) but they were simply not looking carefully enough.

I am sure there are some grownups who didn't like Bubba Ho-Tep, although most of them were probably put off by the title and never actually saw it. Based on the Bram Stoker Award-winning story by Joe R. Lansdale, it is a tale about the nature of heroism. Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) and John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) are alive, if not exactly well, and they are living out their last days in the Mud Creek Shady Rest nursing home in East Texas. No one else believes that they are Elvis and JFK, of course, but they know who they are, although both of them are so tired of life that they've ceased to care. Someone is killing the old people in the home at night: Elvis and JFK see him, and realize he is an ancient Egyptian mummy gone redneck, stalking the nursing home halls in snakeskin boots and a cowboy hat, looking for souls to suck from the bodies of the living. They dub the horror "Bubba Ho-Tep" and launch an effort to drive him away and save the nursing home.

Are the two old guys crazy, or are they really Elvis and JFK? Probably crazy, although there are moments in the film when their stories seem almost plausible. No matter who they are, or what they are really up against, they have the souls of heroes, Don Quixotes climbing onto their walkers, getting ready to do battle. Taking the battlefield against death, they rediscover the sweetness of life. It would be saccharine, were it not wrapped in such outrageous nuttiness and tacky horror.

Bubba Ho-Tep rocks: Thumb's up.


At 7:15 AM, Blogger John said...

With ya', Ruth! Watched this one or recommendation from a BBQ eatin' bald guy. Never will forgive him for this, but I actually enjoyed it. Unfortunately he also recommended "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra." Don't go there unless you have two hours of your life you want to make dissapear.


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