What You Need To Know:
(OO, C, B, LLL, VV, S, NN, M) Strong occult worldview with talk about curse, mummy sucks the souls out of people, and man tries to use a magic spell against the mummy, with slight hints of a moral Christian worldview, such as discussion of the value of life and the importance of having a legacy when you die, plus man reprimands woman for never visiting her father at the rest home; 50 obscenities, seven profanities, bodily noises from elderly people, mummy scatologically sucks the souls out of people, and men urinate off screen twice; strong violence such as man vividly dies of heart attack, glimpse of struggling man’s brain being pulled out of his nose to make him a mummy in Egyptian flashback, mummy drags woman off screen, woman’s hand bitten bloody by scarab beetle, scarab beetle stabbed into floor with fork, mummy set afire and struggles to survive, and fisticuffs; some sexual references such as man speaks of mysterious lump on his private parts, nurse applies salve to mysterious lump on man’s private parts, implied sexual arousal, and nurse asked into bed “while the getting’s good”; women’s breasts briefly seen in Egyptian flashback and shot of woman’s panties as she bends over; no alcohol or smoking; and, woman steals eyeglasses and chocolates from a woman in an iron lung and scenes of old people who have lost their minds and wills to live (the mummy preys on “small souls”).
GENRE: Comedy/Horror Movie
BUBBA HO-TEP is an inventive comedy/horror from the same people that brought THE EVIL DEAD series to the big screen. Bruce Campbell plays an elderly Elvis Presley that had grown weary of the rock and roll lifestyle: the tours, the women and the drugs. To escape for a while, he traded places with an Elvis impersonator. The impersonator was the “Elvis” that we know to have died from an overdose. The real Elvis was performing one night when his hip gave out. He fell off stage and hit his head. Because of his head injury, he spent several years in a coma and has now awakened to find himself in a rest home somewhere in the South. He is suffering from what might be cancer of the genitals, and can only get around with a walker.
One of his fellow rest homers is John F. Kennedy, played by Ossie Davis. No, not the JFK, but one of the many delusional elderly that have been abandoned to the mercies of the home. JFK believes his brain has been replaced by a sandbag so that he doesn’t remember who tried to kill him. He explains his dark complexion as a clever dye job to hide him.
Night after night, more and more rest home residents turn up dead. JFK has seen the culprit and has figured out that it is a mummy who is sucking the souls out of the patients’ posteriors. There are lots of crass jokes based upon that fact. The mummy has to return so often, it is concluded, because the souls he is preying upon are “small souls” – rest home residents who have little will to live.
The mummy is the brother of a great Egyptian king. He has been bound in his sarcophagus by a curse that keeps him from entering the afterlife. This mummy was part of a museum tour in the United States. While in Texas, the display was stolen, loaded onto a bus, and then driven off a bridge during a tornado. The sarcophagus was broken open and the mummy sank into the river. Now that the curse can no longer bind him, he is walking out of the river each night and feeding on defenseless old folks’ souls.
Elvis and JFK realize that they have to defend their rest home. It is evident that their own souls are growing as they now have a purpose. How will these old men that can only get around by a walker and a wheelchair save their fellow residents from the cursed mummy?
While there are several poignant moments as Elvis reflects upon his life, what might have been, and comments upon the lives of those around him, many crudities and much crassness neutralize the usefulness of these moments. Such wisdom about the worth of individuals should be made available to children, but this is not a family film and the efficacy of such a lesson is largely lost.
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David Schultz, President
The Distribution Arm of American Cinematheque
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Phone: (323) 461-2020, ext. 123
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SUMMARY: In BUBBA HO-TEP, an elderly Elvis Presley and a black man who thinks he is JFK save their rest home from a soul-sucking Egyptian mummy. While the story is inventive and fun, excessive crass language and negative subject matter far outweigh any positive elements to keep this from being family material.