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Movie of the Day: Bubba Ho-Tep

What do you get when you throw a senior aged Elvis, John F. Kennedy and a cursed mummy? You get a sadly unappreciated masterpiece of creative glory known as Bubba Ho-Tep.
I think this is one of Bruce Campbell's best, if only for its creativity. In this universe, Elvis Presley (Campbell), having grown tired of his fame and longing for a simpler life, switches places with an Elvis impersonator, leaving his rock and roll life behind him. This means that the Elvis who died was not the real king of rock, and our story opens up with the genuine article, now old an broken down, living in a nursing home.

Of course, no one believes he's really Elvis, and write off his claims as the ranting of a senile senior citizen. The only resident who buys his story is an African American man named Jack, claiming to be John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis). Jack's story is that after the assassination attempt, his brain has been transmitting him information from a jar in the pentagon, and that the government dyed his skin black as a disguise.

Life seems dull and depressing for our aging protagonist, as he goes on several introspective monologues about his loss of vitality, and the sad state of his life, wondering if abandoning his career was really the right move. This all changes when a cursed mummy (played by Bob Ivy) washes up on a river near the nursing home. The mummy has to feed on life-force to maintain his existence, and the nursing home provides with a steady stream of souls to suck away. Since his victims are elderly anyway, no one suspects their deaths as being anything other than natural.

It's up to our heroes, senior citizens Elvis and Kennedy, to stop the supernatural menace and save the souls of all the elderly in the building.

Fans of the Evil Dead series probably expect this to be a standard Bruce Campbell flick: not necessarily "good", but definitely awesome. To an extent I suppose this is true, if only for the absurdity of the subject material. If you can look past that though, this film has a number of genuinely deep and meaningful moments, such as Elvis contemplating his own self worth at his age.

The best parts of the movie by far are the characters of Elvis and Kennedy. Elvis is cranky and gruff, but never so much that we can't relate to him, or that he becomes unlikable. My favorite one though has to be Davis as Kennedy. Unlike Elvis, we're never really flat-out told whether or not he's really the former President, or just a senile old man, and that just makes it all the funnier.

In a time of constant sequels, reboots and adaptations, Bubba Ho-Top is a real breath of fresh air. I think the movie is gaining a following, as my local Family Video has had it checked out more often of late, and I'm really glad to hear that. Much like Disney's Up, this movie is about how you're never too old for adventure, or to grab life by the horns. If you get the chance, be sure to check it out.