For a virtual no-budget indie oddity, MGM's assembled a really beautiful package that should please fans of Bruce Campbell, cult director Don Coscarelli (creator and propagator of the "Phantasm" series), and readers of author Joe Lansdale.
Lansdale's outlandish short story (from which the author reads some juicy, bodily function-obsessed passages in the DVD's special features section) grabbed the attention of director Coscarelli, who set to work on a script that retained the author's weird fusion of social commentary - regarding the sad plight of the aged, like Elvis, John F. Kennedy, and The Lone Ranger - and a cursed 'Bubba' (a 'good 'ol boy) in need of souls to maintain his spiritual being.
Star Bruce Campbell and writer/director Coscarelli provide a lively commentary track, addressing the challenge in transposing the Lansdale's tone to film; and assembling a great cast, who play their roles with just the right mix of irony and deadpan delivery. The 2 commentators naturally focus on the King himself, and discuss a lot of what-ifs, had Elvis taken an extremely sharp turn in life.
A series of excellent making-of featurettes support the commentary track's dissection of no-budget filmmaking, with separate segments on make-up effects, main locations, Elvis costumes (patterned after the King's real studded jumpsuit), and an excellent featurette on the movie's composer, Brian Tyler. Interviewed by Coscarelli, Tyler also appears in a short music video (also archived separately), where the composer plays a rocked-up version of the film's repeated theme.
A collection of deleted scenes with optional (and funny) commentary contain a few extensions that were trimmed for length. An archived gallery of the film's unedited "Egyptian" mummification footage (a kind of light, tongue-in-cheek salute to Hershel Gordon Lewis' own ethnic hoodoo in "Blood Feast") appears under the moniker, "Footage from the Temple Room Floor."
Fans of actor Campbell should get a kick out of his in-character commentary track, in which Elvis makes sporadic observations on various minutia while slurping his drink, and loudly eating his munchies; and Campbell's booklet notes serve as an appropriately wry intro to the DVD.
Theatrically screened at the time of Campbell's "Chins Around the World" book tour, hundreds of filmgoers at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival were turned away from sellout screenings at the now-demolished Uptown theatre, and according to director Coscarelli, "Bubba Ho-Tep" has managed to do quite well for itself in spite of limited distribution.
Boasting a really gorgeous poster design, this is a very thoughtful DVD release.
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan