Bubba Ho-tep

bubba_hotep.jpgLadies and Gentlemen, I will now use my film de­gree for bas­tardized pur­pos­es. Also, I am grow­ing a beard again.

Bubba Ho-tep [2002][of­fi­cial site] is very much more than a hor­com about Elvis and JFK in a rest home fight­ing a soul steal­ing mum­my. Upon a clos­er in­spec­tion the tale be­comes an al­le­go­ry of 20th cen­tu­ry Western pol­i­tics. Let me ex­pli­cate:

The King

Elvis Presley [Bruce Campbel] is a grouchy, im­po­tent good olé boy with a pus-filled growth on his peck­er and a moun­tain of re­gret for throw­ing away his love for Priscilla and his daugh­ter due to his drug habits and the de­struc­tive na­ture of su­per­star­dom. Whether this is tru­ly the King is am­bigu­ous, he might be Sebastian Haff, an Elvis im­per­son­ator. Elvis and the full force of the Elvis myth are, in this film, America. This is quite smart be­cause Elvis was the first cul­tur­al icon of the ju­ve­nile post-war United States su­per­pow­er. His myth fits point for point with emer­gent American po­lit­i­cal iden­ti­ty. Elvis is ful­ly as big as America in terms of mythol­o­gy.

The twists that Don Coscarelli gives this Elvis are most wel­come. The possible/​probable senility/​identity is­sues of Elvis/​Sebastian cou­pled with his im­po­tent and dis­eased pe­nis [which equals the bloated/​crumbling military/​industrial com­plex] ful­ly en­gorge the cu­mu­la­tive so­cial guilt and stub­born re­sis­tance to the same guilt that has been the lot of America’s for­eign pol­i­cy for the last 50 years.

The Prez

If Elvis is the emo­tion­al mir­ror to the USA, then JFK [Ossie Davis] en­cap­su­lates the ra­tio­nal­iz­ing ide­al­ism that has re­sult­ed in the con­di­tion of Elvis/​America. That is, JFK [who was dyed in­to a black man and has a bag of sand in place of his brain] arous­es the King’s fail­ing dri­ve in much the same way that our Presidents have coaxed out the few re­main­ing spurts of viril­i­ty time and time again in American mil­i­tary con­flict. Obviously, in Bubba Ho-tep JFK is quite mad. Once again Don Coscarelli twists the weight of myth so that a mad­man is the ra­tio­nal force.

The Mummy

The mum­my, ex­humed in Egypt, stolen in Texas and lost in a creek, must eat the small souls of the res­i­dents of Shady Rest in or­der to re­main un­dead. It eats the small souls by ass-suck­ing. [it can use any ori­fice but seems to pre­fer the bung­hole] The mum­my quite eas­i­ly rep­re­sents any and every per­ceived threat to America; from such specifics as Hitler and the civ­il rights move­ment, to such gen­er­al­i­ties as ho­mo­pho­bia, xeno­pho­bia, com­mu­nism and ter­ror­ism. Of course it must be de­stroyed. Destroyed by the cleans­ing fire of the right­eous King and stead­fast President.

The Score

This movie could on­ly be made in post 911 America. The per­vad­ing sense of with­er­ing, de­cay and hope lost di­rect­ly stem from 911. While this is ob­vi­ous­ly a lib­er­al film [for a case could eas­i­ly be made that The King and JFK are al­le­gor­i­cal cri­tique on­ly to the George W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion] it is a re­spect­ful one. While these ag­ing myth-fig­ures man­age to save the day from the threat of Bubba Ho-tep, their death al­ways seems in­evitable. Coscarelli rec­og­nizes that, while such be­hav­ior was eas­i­ly come by in the past, it is time for new ways of deal­ing with Other/​Not America. Even, it seems, that it is time to find new ways of deal­ing with America as America it­self. We are urged to rec­og­nize what has mold­ed the coun­try, but not to be bound to it in se­nil­i­ty. It is too late for The King and for Jack Kennedy, it may be too late for us, but we’ve still got­ta take care of busi­ness.

[oth­er things i liked]

cock­roach­es are huge in Texas, it is fun­ny then that the scarabs are just thought to be cock­roach­es ‘about the size of a peanut but­ter and ba­nana sand­wich.’

the one hot chick in the movie bends over and give Elvis a glimpse of her ‘love-nest.’ Elvis re­marks to him­self that he ap­pears so old and un­de­sir­able that to her it is ‘no worse than a house­cat sneak­ing a peek.’

Bruce Campbell is Elvis and Ossie Davis is JFK. Pure. cast­ing. ge­nius.

de­spite be­ing called ‘low-bud­get’ the pro­duc­tion val­ues were sur­pris­ing­ly high and the camp was kept strict­ly to the premise. the edit­ing was fierce­ly good.