Plot: What’s it about?
Shout Factory is one of my favorite film distributors mainly due to their label Scream Factory that focuses on pristine releases of cult classic horror films. Recently they have outdone themselves with spectacular releases of The Thing, Escape From New York, and Army of Darkness. I love Don Cascarelli’s John Dies At the End and Phantasm and I am a huge fan of actor Bruce Campbell. I had seen the film back in my senior year of high school, but since then I have seen a lot more of Cascarelli’s work and enjoyed it. It’s time to revisit Bubba-Ho-Tep, and see how it fares now.
To call Bubba-Ho-Tep an original film would be an understatement. The plot revolves around an aging, sex-obsessed, venereal-disease-infested Elvis (played with aplomb by Bruce Campbell.) Elvis has been going by another name and impersonating himself while another man took his place and promptly died of a drug overdose. Elvis is holed up at an elderly home in Texas with nobody in the world to believe he is actually The King. The only person who believes him is JFK (Ossie Davis), an elderly African-American man claiming that he is actually JFK and that the government had dyed him that color after the assassination attempt. Meanwhile, mysterious deaths and large scarab beetles rear their ugly head at the elderly home they live in. It is up to JFK and The King to fight against an evil Egyptian mummy that is sucking out people’s souls from any orifice possible. The mummy is preying on the nursing home because of the easy pickings, with the populous unsuspecting as the old residents pass away.
Bubba-Ho-Tep for some reason didn’t do it for me when I was 18 years old, but absolutely works for me now. It is a wild, crass, ridiculous ride, and I am glad I took the ride now. Keep in mind, this film will probably only appeal to those that read the last paragraph and thought it sounded hilarious and fun. I’m pretty excited that Shout Factory has given it the full red carpet treatment and given me another chance to check it out.
The performances are strong from both Ossie Smith and Bruce Campbell. Unfortunately, Ossie would die just a few years later after a long and fruitful career. Luckily, Bruce Campbell is still alive and kicking. Don Cascarelli’s films are always interesting, with a directing style that may not appeal to some because of some of the jerkiness of the film’s narratives. I personally enjoy Cascarelli’s haphazard nature, his willingness to be absolutely silly at one given point and then going for a scare with a quick audio jolt afterward. The film shows a great sense of humor that will not make everybody automatically a fan. My main complaint is that the film at times moves a little bit more slowly than it should, causing some pacing issues(this is most apparent in the final act.) Considering all the positives, that is a pretty mild complaint. Also, the finale is a bit anticlimactic because there has not been enough that comes before the end to make the end really pop. My recommendation would be to check it out, but if you were not a fan of John Dies At The End, this probably will not be in your wheel house.
Video: How’s it look?
This was given a new transfer back in 2016 for the film’s Blu-ray release and now with this 4K version, we once again get a new (and better) looking visuals. The transfer is another solid effort by Shout Factory and the image looks natural and good, retaining the full imagery that Cascarelli tried to get across. Granted, this movie wasn’t really made to showcase the limits of your television, but for those wanting the best-looking experience, it’s here. This is another great effort by Shout Factory. Fans will be pleased, and newcomers will enjoy what they see.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Shout Factory has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that sounds fantastic. The surrounds on this track are fairly effective with music and vocals flowing together well. Sound effects are prominent in Cascarelli’s films and this one is no different. I particularly enjoyed the noises they made for the scarab beetles. The audio is crystal clear and well balanced. There is nothing to dislike here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- The King Lives! – With Bruce Campbell – an excellent interview with the legend himself, Bruce Campbell. He talks about working on the film, why the film is so darn good, and why people still enjoy it. How can you avoid watching this?
- All is Well – With Don Cascarelli – this interview with the creator of the film is very well thought out. He gives an interview that explains the filmmaking process and how he came up with the ideas in the film.
- Mummies and Makeup: with Robert Kurtzman – a solid interview about the makeup effects of the film. Good stuff.
- Deleted Scenes – these are pretty unimportant. Skip these. A commentary track is available if interested.
- Footage from the Temple Floor – All those silly Egyptian flashbacks edited together.
- The Making of Bubba-Ho-Tep – archival interviews about the film. Another solid piece.
- To Make A Mummy – a solid feature about the mummy effects which were very practical.
- Fit For A King – another archival interview about the costuming for the film.
- Rock Like an Egyptian – another archival piece about the music.
- Archival Bruce Campbell interviews – more Bruce!
- Music Video
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
- Audio Commentaries: Two of which are specific to this release!
- Audio Commentary with Joe R. Lansdale– a brand new commentary with the author of the short story. Great for the fans.
- Audio Commentary with Don Cascarelli and Bruce Campbell – a really enjoyable commentary on the film. Really solid and funny.
- Audio Commentary by “The King”– Wow. Such a dumb and fun feature.
The Bottom Line
Bubba-Ho-Tep is an incredibly original film. It will probably continue to divide people into fans or naysayers. Personally, even though I think the film is a bit sloppy, I really like Bubba-Ho-Tep. The performances are great, the humor is solid, and the pacing of the film is decent. If you already own Shout’s 2016 Blu-ray, I don’t see a need to upgrade to this 4K version. But if you’ve been holding out or simply want the best-looking version of this on disc, here you go.