Bubba Ho-Tep is a
damned enjoyable horror-comedy flick from writer-director Don
featuring Bruce Campbell as an elderly Elvis Presley and Ossie Davis
as JFK (he was dyed black), both of whom are wasting away in anonymity
in a convalescent home. During their stay, they discover that an
ancient mummy dressed up like a cowboy (a "Bubba Ho-Tep" as Elvis
labels him) is wandering through the home at night sucking the souls
out of sleeping patients... mostly through their assholes.
While the movie is funny, it's perhaps not as laugh-out-loud
funny as you might expect upon hearing the concept, as it opts for the
more subtle humor approach instead. It's also not particularly
action-packed, seeing as how the two main protagonists are elderly men
who get around using a walker and a motorized wheelchair. Still,
there's something captivating about this film, even as it makes some
profoundly depressing observations about growing old.
As limited as the action
is in this movie, there are two great sequences worth mentioning. The
second one is at the end of the movie, where Elvis fights Bubba Ho-Tep
using his walker to fend him off. And as awesome as that is, I find
the first sequence to be more amusing, Elvis's "battle" with the giant
and oh-so-obviously fake flying scarab beetle.
One night, Elvis wakes up and goes to take a piss, and when he returns
to his room, he notices that his tin of chocolates has fallen off the
nightstand and onto the floor. He bends down to pick up the tin, and
as he lifts it up, he sees that a gigantic scarab beetle (which he
mistakenly identifies as a cockroach) was hiding under it. Leaning in
to study the large critter, he is surprised and falls backward when it
leaps up at his face.
He is disoriented until
he finds his glasses that have fallen to the floor next to him, and
when he puts them back on, he sees that the bug is climbing up the
wall across the room. At this point, he looks to the bug, throws out
some karate moves, and spits out "Alright man, let's go!" to signal
that he's ready to throw down.
The bug quickly flies
off the wall, and Bruce treats us to a bit of the physical comedy he
handles so well, albeit with a bit more restraint than he's typically
delivered in other horror-comedies. He takes a few clumsy swipes at
the bug as it flutters in his face and taunts him (even making little
taunting sounds!) before finally catching it in his bedpan and
trapping it against the wall. The bug makes no movement however once
it's stuck in the bedpan, causing Elvis to doubt whether he's caught
it, and it escapes again.
Eventually he ends up
stabbing it with a fork and then shoving it into a space heater,
setting it ablaze and shocking the hell out of himself in the process.
This whole sequence
wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if the bug wasn't so obviously fake,
but my favorite thing about the scene is the few brief shots of "bug
vision" that we get during the beetle's flight. The whole thing is
just wonderfully cheesy, as any movie with Bruce Campbell should be.
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