Angry Robot

TIFF: Bubba Ho-Tep

That’s what I’m talkin’ aboot: Don Coscarelli directs Bruce Campbell as old man Elvis. Plot: Elvis didn’t die, he got sick of his life and traded places with an Elvis impersonator – who then crapped out on the toilet, while the real Elvis lived on, eventually breaking a hip on stage and landing himself in a nursing home. When an ancient mummy begins sucking the souls of the old folks, Elvis teams up with fellow retiree John F. Kennedy (Ozzie Davis) and has a chance to become the hero he’d always meant to be.

This is a great film, no question. Campbell makes a bang-up Elvis, Davis a top-class JFK, and as a crime-fighting team, they’re unsurpassed. Who’s kidding who, you can’t beat Elvis and his walker matched with black JFK in a wheelchair. As good as those cats are, the tone of the film is what sets it apart – the script is inventive and routinely hilarious, yet filled with genuine emotion, and gracefully renders the concerns of aging, life ambition, and self-respect. It stops short of getting into the titular mummy’s head – the ancient undead villian to our old dying heroes – but there’s some fanciful speculation about what you shit out if all you eat is souls, and hey, that’s good enough for me.

So, to sum up, if this flick finds a distributor, go see it, babe. Here’s the official site, and the good ol’ IMDb page. Here’s Joe R. Lansdale’s homepage – he wrote the short story on which Coscarelli based the film, and as an added bonus it looks like he teaches martial arts.