Bubba Ho-Tep is not a movie to be taken seriously, straight from the Pulp Fiction inspired opening definition of its name the cards are on the table. Not that you would need any warning that this is going to be an unorthodox outing for Bruce Campbell because the plot revolves around a nursing home populated by an aging man who is dreaming of his glory days, when he may or may not have been Elvis Presley. Throw in a black man who claims he is J.F.K(the joke being that J.F.K was of course white) And top off with an ancient mummy that is sucking the souls of the inmates dry.
All together you have one of the most outlandish ideas in a long time, unfortunately the intriguing scenario is hindered with very little scares, action or infuriatingly humour. If an old person talking about his sex life and tadger is entertainment then look no further. Despite the outrageous concept the actual mummy takes an age to show up, a slow burn is one thing but this fire is in danger of going out completely.
The limited action is handheld with a pleasing levity that somewhat makes up for the dreariness in-between however the final showdown, while entertaining and surprisingly heartfelt, is compressed into a few choice moments.
Director Don Coscarelli attempts to imbue some tension and scares with some classic techniques; the monsters point of view, the gruesome apparition diapering to materialise behind an unlucky sole and oodles of fog are all on show but the ridiculous story means that this is just not possible, nearly impossible in fact, to take anything seriously when a sparkly dressed Elvis is zooming about in a wheelchair.
That is not to say that Bubba Ho-Tep is without charm; Bruce (The Chin) Campbell gives an enthusiastic performance as The King, taking the wackiness in his stride and delivers a decent Elvis impersonation, or impersonation of an Elvis impersonator… Likewise Ossie Davis is reliable in the role of J.F.K, disappointingly though he only seems to be around to explain the finer intricacies of Bubba’s existence and how to dispatch him.
Verdict: A very interesting premise is ruined by a slow build up, lack of action and jokes that never reach past the level of old people talking about masturbation.