If you’ve seen a Bruce Campbell film, you might think that you know what to expect… undead creatures, weird battles, and a dozen one-line zingers. In his latest film, Bubba Ho-Tep, he’s got all that going on, but this time you can change “Hail to the King, Baby”, to “Hail to the King of Rock n’ Roll, Baaaaby” as Campbell takes on the role of Elvis Presley in his golden years.
As wild as that may sound, Campbell brings Elvis alive in a film that doesn’t just offer your standard action/comedy mix. Bubba Ho-Tep, gives a rich introduction to all of the characters, and Campbell portrays an Elvis that is troubled, silently profound, and still hilarious to watch.
Director Don Coscarelli (The Beastmaster, Phantasm) uses Campbell and a variety of aging techniques to portray Elvis in his late sixties after he’s managed to trade places, earlier in life, with an impersonator who took on his life and ended up dying. As the film begins, Elvis is living in a retirement home that has come under attack by a soul-sucking mummy that’s killing off the residents one-by-one. With no one else to help them, Elvis and his only friend Jack (Ossie Davis), a black man who thinks he’s J.F.K., have to take on the responsibility of defeating the creature.
The film appeared at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and screened to a sold-out audience, but presently, the film is still seeking a major distributor to release the film. If that happens, and the film does well enough, Coscarelli said that he expected that it wouldn’t be hard to imagine seeing sequels that would pit Elvis against other dark creatures. Time will tell, but the real question is if Elvis fans can readily accept seeing their hero as a kind of action hero. Considering Campbell’s impressive performance and visual transformation, anything is possible. Read more on the Toronto International Film Festival at www.thegate.ca/tiff/