Since it's "Elvis week" I decided to re-post this here. It was originally written for Rockabilly Online.
"Today we’re honoring the memory of the King. So I’m going to start this
review by saying that I’m a huge fan of Elvis. Elvis’s music is a big
part of why I’m involved in this scene. I’ve been to Graceland three
times and I’m playing on a fourth visit as soon as I can. When I’m a
good mood, the music I always find myself listening to is that of Elvis
Having said all that, my favorite “Elvis” movie is not a movie that
Elvis actually starred in. It’s more of a movie about Elvis (and by
extension fame) than an actual “Elvis movie” really. I am, of course
talking about Don Coscarelli film version of Joe R. Lansdale’s Bubba
The movie stars cult icon Bruce Campbell as an aged Elvis Presley
trapped in a Texas retirement home. It seems the King got tired of the
fame game and swapped places with an Elvis lookalike. Instead of
living the good life, free of the bullshit behind celebrity, Elvis broke
his hip. Thus finding himself in a retirement home that’s really more
of a limbo for some of our more iconic figures. Including JFK ( the
great Ossie Davis) and the Lone Ranger (Larry Pennell).
To make matters worse, there is a mummy (duded up in western wear)
picking off the residents of the home. Leaving Elvis with a choice
between lying down and dying. Or make one last stab at being the King.
Kudos to the filmmakers and cast for this movie. It could have
easily been a one note joke, but instead is actually a very touching
story about finding redemption in your twilight years. This movie walks
its tight rope act with perfect skill, all backed by a killer,
rockabilly infused, score.
For years horror fans have known that Bruce Campbell is better than the
material he’s often given. Here he shines, actually making you believe
that Elvis might actually be alive. What he does her is far beyond a
Vegas impersonator. He creates an Elvis that MIGHT have been. We never
got to see Elvis live to old age. Campbell gives us that image, even if
it’s not always pretty.
Ossie Davis is also great as “JFK.” Conspiracy buffs should get a
kick out of this version of the oft told story. But like Campbell’s
Elvis, it’s more than just a one-note character. Davis plays Kennedy as a
man grappling with regret and doubt.
This is a movie than transcends parody and becomes tribute. I know a
lot of Elvis fans who hate this movie because they feel like it is
poking fun at their hero. But instead, I say it honors him. Allowing him
to stand once more amongst the living. Even if it is to fight the
undead. So today when you’re toasting the King, do yourself a favor
and throw on Bubba Ho-Tep!"