Bring back Bubba
Nick Anderson | Monday, September 21, 2009
Every August in the Midwest, there are roughly two weeks when the weather is unbearable. The thick, muggy air pushes down on those unlucky enough to be outside, causing discomfort, confusion and embarrassing pit stains. Every effort is made to stay indoors, protected by the benevolent air conditioning. Everyone here should be familiar with this unfortunate fortnight as it normally overlaps Frosh-O weekend, adding stickiness where there should only be awkwardness.
Years before my own Frosh-O, back in the summer of 2006, I was seeking refuge from the sweltering heat. Finally, I found shelter. However, as it turns out, there is a limit on the amount of time one can spend in a dollar store before being asked to leave. Not willing to make myself a sacrifice to the heat, I made an earnest attempt to spend the last bill in my wallet. Sandwiched between a bottle of Star Wars shampoo and several Pez dispensers that looked almost, but not quite like our founding fathers, was a VHS tape that would change the way I looked at cinema forever: “Bubba Ho-Tep.”
“Bubba Ho-Tep” is a Bruce Campbell movie. (For those of you unfamiliar with Campbell’s work, go see “Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness.” Right Now. I’ll wait.) For this film, Campbell took on his most challenging and unforgiving role. Each day, he would sit through three hours of makeup in order to transform into a 65 year-old, bed-ridden, curmudgeonly Elvis.
Made on a budget of $1 million dollars (licensing one of Elvis’ songs would have used have the budget), “Bubba Ho-Tep” introduces the tale of an aging rock star, long removed from the fame of his former life. To make this story possible, Elvis must still be alive. The film explains with a surprisingly well made flashback. In the early 70’s, fed up with the drugs, people, and excess surrounding him, Elvis traded lives with Sebastian Haff, an impersonator, who ended up dying on the toilet in ’77. The real Elvis ends up sharing a nursing home with an also non-dead JFK, played by Ozzie Davis, who had been dyed black after the failed attempt on his life so LBJ could go ahead and assume the presidency. The two thought-to-be-dead protagonists proceed to fight a Western clad mummy.
Despite an outlandish plot and shoestring budget, the movie harnessed an extremely well written script and remarkable performances to garner enough critical praise for a small theatrical release. VHS and DVD sales improved the film’s moderate success even further, while creating a small, loyal audience who’ve embraced it as a cult classic.
It was the same audience, who, upon watching the final credits, missed the director’s joke and started a clamor calling for the promised prequel; “Bubba Nosteratu: Curse of the She-Vampires.” Enough interest was generated to begin some serious discussion. For the past 2 years, rumors have passed around the Internet regarding the film’s plot, stars and shooting schedule. It seems most likely the movie will be about Elvis fighting vampires in a 1970 New Orleans. Paul Giamatti and Ron Pearlman have publically stated they would appear in the film as Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis respectively. Campbell dropped out due to “creative differences”. It may begin shooting as early as 2010 but could be delayed indefinitely.
This article is a plea for help. Bubba Nosteratu would make pop culture a little bit better and a whole lot stranger. Do anything you can to help; buy a copy of “Bubba Ho-Tep” on DVD, comment on Internet forums, think about it twice a day. Every little piece helps. Paul Giamatti is counting on you.