Monday, 13 September 2010

“Bubba Ho-Tep” on BLU RAY. A Review Of The 2002 Film And The 2010 Blu Ray Reissue.

"…Ask Not What Your Rest Home Can Do For You…But What You Can Do For Your Rest Home…"

Rewatching “Bubba Ho-Tep” is like reliving the first time you saw “The Big Lebowski”. Everything about it rocks. You’re left absolutely reeling - giggling like a fool and wincing in admiration. And this is before we talk about Elvis, a wart on his appendage and a 3000-year old soul-sucking Mummy…

This 2010 BLU RAY reissue is a rerun of the 2006 2DVD Edition with most of its generous and hugely entertaining extras still intact:

1. You can play the film with/without a Bruce Campbell “Intro”
2. 2.0 Stereo or DTS-HD Master Audio
3. Feature-length audio commentary by Director Don Coscarelli and Lead Actor Bruce Campbell
4. Second feature-length audio commentary by Bruce Campbell as “The King”
5. Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell
6. “The King And I” – Don Coscarelli Interview
7. Bruce Campbell – Talks Bubba Interview
8. Original Theatrical Trailer
9. Music Video
10. Photo Gallery
11. Joe R. Lansdale reads from “Bubba Ho-Tep”
12. The Making Of
13. To Make A Mummy
14. Fit For A King – Dressing Bruce Campbell
15. Rock Like An Egyptian – Interview with Brian Tyler who composed the score

As I suspected, the lo-fi independent production values of the original 2002 film are ruthlessly exposed by the unforgiving nature of high definition. But I was still more than pleased to find out that there are huge improvements on the BLU RAY print.

Most of the movie was shot indoors - his bedroom, the corridors of the home, night scenes outside on the grass lawns (all notoriously hard to get clarity on) – so the vast majority of the print has a slight parlour of blocking. It isn’t huge, but it is there. However, once you get to the daylight shots (the grounds of the home in the morning, down by the river, the flashbacks to Elvis’ touring past) the picture is great – even beautiful in places. And the close-ups on Campbell’s heavily made-up face do now reveal just a little too many make-up lines you couldn’t see before – so you know the BLU RAY is working. For me the clarity is upped a great deal - it’s just worth pointing out that some might find it a little underwhelming.

So why is Bubba Ho-Tep so much fun - even poignant? A lot of the credit has to go to Bruce Campbell’s performance as an aged Elvis trapped in a Texas retirement home after a 20-year coma. He is extraordinary in the part – his mannerisms, the voice, the silly karate-kick gestures, lusting after young babes with a Johnson that hasn’t been functional since the passing of too many Presidents. Campbell somehow makes Elvis real. This is how The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll would be thinking, ruminating on life, trying to push himself and his spirit back to its former greatness (title above). And of course Campbell’s “King” taps into our almost irrational love of Elvis Presley no matter how ludicrous he looked or became. Credit should also go to Brian Tyler’s guitar strum soundtrack, which adds so much to the overall vibe and giggle-factor.

Also running alongside Campbell is a wonderfully wry performance by Ella Joyce as “The Nurse” who gets to massage more than Aaron’s ego. Even better is veteran actor Ossie Davis as a black man who is convinced that he’s “JFK” abducted by aliens and with part of his brain replaced with a sack of sand. The fact that ‘Jack’ makes most sense about the Mummy stalking the rooms of their Mud Creek home in cowboy boots sucking the souls out of weak inmates through their ass as they sleep and writing Egyptian graffiti on toilet walls – is perhaps a tad worrying…

As you can gather from the above, Bubba Ho-Tep also has one of the most fantastically inventive and witty storylines ever. It was adapted from Texas born Joe Lansdale’s short story by Director Don Coscarelli and most of the dialogue virtually screams instant cult classic.
Just like “The Big Lebowski”, you’ll find yourself quoting it line for line at work... “How could my plans have gone so wrong? And when are they going to serve lunch?”.
"One glimpse of her panties and I felt my heart a pigeon having a heart attack..."

How could the King Of Rock 'n' Roll have gone from knickers being thrown at him on stage to being marooned in a godforsaken Texan retirement home with a growth of his pecker and his shades semi-intact?
How did Elvis leave the building and what did the Egyptian hieroglyphics in the sky tell him when he did?
Will Priscilla still want him or will they have to 'talk' about it?
And in the end is there anything more to life than food, shit and sex?

Buy or rent "Bubba Ho-Tep" on BLU RAY now and find out.

And I truly envy you the journey...

PS: “Bubba Nosferatu – Curse Of The She-Vampires” is due in 2011 – can’t wait!

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