Welcome to Mud Creek, Texas. In a depressing nursing home, senior citizen Elvis (BruceCampbell) is sleeping away what remains of his life. Some led gets put back into his pencil,however, when he and “JFK” (Ossie Davis, who else?) realize that an ancient mummy is killingoff the residents of the home. Barely able to walk, they nonetheless decide to fight thesupernatural evil.
As you might guess from the above description, and especially from the casting, this is prett…funny stuff. The writing is particularly strong. Director Don Coscarelli’s script, hewing closelyto Joe R. Lansdale’s novella, has some of the funniest lines this side of the Coen brothers at theirbest. At the same time, the film is played dead straight, which simultaneously make theproceedings even funnier, but also invest the film with real emotional heft. This is probably themost honest, heartfelt depiction of life in a seniors home yet committed to film. Weren’texpecting that, were ya?
Excellent 5.1 sound, at least at the level of effects. The music, which can shift from C&W to ominous horror film toneswith no warning, is thoroughly enveloping. The surround effects are excellent, and well placed.The opening, for instance, which has a newsreel of the mummy being found in the 30s, isaccompanied by a film projector sound which, appropriately, comes from the rear speakers only.Good stuff. The dialogue has a fair bit of distortion and buzz, however, again perhaps reflecting the movie’s low budget.
Perhaps reflecting the fact of the film’s low budget, the picture has some grain and specklinghere and there. The colours, however, are very strong, as are the contrasts (though some exteriorsare a bit washed out), and recreate the theatrical experience faithfully. Flesh tones and blacks arefine too, and the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image is sharp. The look isn’t Lord of theRings, but neither is the budget.
Plenty of extras here, more than you’d find on many major releases. There are twocommentaries. On is throwaway silly, with Elvis (Campbell) muttering away about the film andchomping popcorn. Campbell drops that schtick to provide a fun and informative commentarywith Coscarelli. These two characters also do the honours on two deleted scenes. Rounding outthe deleted material is “Footage from the Temple Floor” — a scored montage of scenes shot forthe Ancient Egypt flashbacks. Joe R. Lansdale reads an excerpt from Chapter 1 of his novella,and the reading is accompanied by artwork and a score. “Making Bubba Ho-Tep” is a 50 minutedocumentary, and its length and attention paid to actually taking us behind the scenes raises itabove its promotional origins. Also on offer are a photo gallery, a music video, the theatricaltrailer and TV spot, and bonus MGM trailers. The menu’s main screen, intro and transitions areanimated and scored. The secondary screens are also scored, and watch out for the specialfeatures one. You might think, at first, that it is silent, but it isn’t. The collector’s edition comeswith a 10-page scrapbook. The pictures are amusingly captioned by Coscarelli and Campbell,and Campbell writes the introduction.
Enormously imaginative and heartfelt, this is a standout theatrical release from 2003, andgives Bruce Campbell the role of his career. Absolutely not to be missed.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary by Bruce Campbell and Don Coscarelli
- Audio Commentary by “The King”
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Joe R. Lansdale Reads from “Bubba Ho-Tep”
- “Making Bubba Ho-Tep” Documentary
- Photo Gallery
- Music Video
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
- Bonus MGM Trailers