JFK and Elvis versus a Mummy. “Old age hath yet his honor and his toil” –Alfred, Lord Tennyson Ulysses The film Bubba Ho-tep opens with an ...

Mummy Unwrapped: Bubba Hotep

JFK and Elvis versus a Mummy.

“Old age hath yet his honor and his toil” –Alfred, Lord Tennyson Ulysses
The film Bubba Ho-tep opens with an aging Elvis stuck at the Shady Rest retirement community in Mud Creek, Texas. Elvis is bedridden with a cancerous lump at the end of his penis, and to make things worse no one believes he’s Elvis. Instead, they think he’s Sebastian Haff, an Elvis impersonator. But it turns out that Elvis, tired of fame and fortune switched places with Sebastian to regain the simple life. The arrangement was peachy until the real Elvis threw out his hip at a concert and caught an infection that put him in a coma, and then into a rest home.

Elvis is moldering away in bed where the only thing he looks forward to is his next meal, when strange things start happening around Shady Rest. Bubba Ho-tep, a long dead mummy and the “brother” of King Tut, is accosting residents and sucking out their souls through their arse-holes. The mummy’s attacks give Elvis a purpose in life again (evidenced by the fact that he is finally able to get a boner when thinking about solving the mystery) and he joins forces with another resident played by Ossie Davis who despite being black, believes himself to be former president JFK.

Ask not what your rest home can do for you. Ask what you can do for your rest home.

Bubba Ho-tep is an interesting little independent comedy/drama/horror film that no one wanted to touch in Hollywood. When Don Coscarelli brought the film based on the novel by Joe R. Lansdale to the studio executives to get the movie made, the response was in the resounding negative. Still the production soldiered on with only one percent of the typical Hollywood budget. The agents for both Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis turned down the film, but despite these negative responses both actors signed on for the feature. Bruce Campbell in particular agreed to do the film after Don Coscarelli answered one very important question: Are you going to show it? (The “it” being the puss-riddled, cancerous penis mentioned several times in the script). After Coscarelli said “no” Bruce suited up for his rendition of a 70 year old Elvis.

They had enough in the budget to add graphics the mummy’s dialogue, but not enough to make the bug look convincing.

Bob Ivy plays the soul sucking mummy of Coscarelli’s film and the KNB EFX studio did the suit and appliances for Bubba Ho-tep at cost. His outfit includes tatters of a western shirt with stylized flames, a dapper black cowboy hat complete with bones and feathers, as well as a pair of snakeskin boots.

Watch your ass!

The mummy in Coscarelli’s film represents society and the dominant institutions that cast the elderly aside. After he’s attacked by Bubba Ho-tep, JFK thinks it was Lyndon B. Johnson, come to finish what he started in Dallas. Though the mummy sucks out souls through people’s sphincters, he’s not the only one draining people dry in the film. In a scene where Elvis is pictured with his entourage before he switches places with Sebastian, he says of his friends that they were “suckin’ me dry” and he’d had enough. Towards the end of the film when Elvis is finally convinced that the growth on his penis is cancer, he curses the administration (“Suck them!”) that won’t tell him the truth because they think he’ll die of age first.

The film also draws some interesting parallels between fame and immortality. The bodies of Egyptian mummies were prepared for a journey into the eternal afterlife and have survived thousands of years into the future. As Elvis succumbs to the ravages of time, he finds himself yearning for that kind of immortality asking, “Why didn’t fame stave off old age and death?”

Bubba Ho-tep is a surprising horror film about how just because you’re old that doesn’t mean you can’t kick mummy butt, a sentiment best expressed by the King: “I’m not dead…yet!”

1 comment:

  1. Hi!

    Bubba Ho-Tep is a great movie, and this is a great review.

    Nice blog you have here...I'm going to have to make it a regular stop!