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Bubba Ho-Tep – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Bubba-Ho-TepBubba Ho-Tep was a movie that found itself being a good movie among my friends and I back in college.  At the time, anything new with Bruce Campbell in a lead role that we could get our hands on was something to behold. And this one sounded so damn weird, but we were all surprised at how good it was and how we weren’t the only ones that happened to think so.  We were obviously all right as its getting the highly coveted Collector’s Edition treatment from the horror home video kings Scream Factory.  It carries over the loads of material from the previous release while adding new meaty interviews with Bruce Campbell, Don Coscarelli and Robert Kurtzman.  You’ll be able to pick up this heartbreak senior hotel of a jailhouse mummy rock on November 8th.

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Film 

Elvis Presley is still alive, now in his late sixties, but confined to a rest home in Texas. Here, he recounts how he escaped fame with the help of an impersonater–now left to wonder what could have been, all while trying to battle the “soul-sucking” mummy, Bubba Ho-tep, who enters the rest home at night and consumes souls.

It sounded like the weirdest damn movie.  Two guys in a senior home think they are the surviving Elvis and John F Kennedy must do battle with an ancient mummy who has risen up and is sucking the life from their fellow residents.  It starred Bruce Campbell as Elvis…ok.  And Ossie Davis as JFK…wait, WHAT?  This silly movie was something I was going to get my hands on, but what surprised the most…it became even more anticipated when it started being showered in a lots of positive reviews and big buzz.

The film is pretty damn hilarious.  Campbell and Davis prove to be a powerhouse combo.  Both their comraderie and shared lunacy really drive this thing home and make for such a geeky and charming adventure.  Its so charming, that when the film comes toward its conclusion in the final act, things get actually kind of emotional with their fate.  Its such a stupid and silly concept, and you can’t believe you’re having this kind of attached reaction to the thing. That’s pretty impressive and something that should be accredited to everyone across the board (acting, directing, screenwriting).

We all love Bruce Campbell as Ashley Williams in the Evil Dead movies. Its an iconic, legendary role that he doesn’t have a career without.  However, his Elvis performance might be his overall best.  Its a sort of criss-cross of Bruce and the King that just prevails and makes him such a bankable rock God.  This performance is so well done, that I air on the side that he actually IS the real Elvis and not some impersonator that got messed in the head and believes him to be the real deal.

I’m happy to report, that while I haven’t seen it in a long time, Bubba Ho-Tep still prevails.  It was a fun trip back to the nursing home.  I even was getting a kick out of some stuff I had forgotten was here, like the little side role from Daniel Roebuck that kept me chuckling.  And Bubba Ho-Tep himself, still a really groovy movie monster that looks plenty awesome.  I’m glad to see it here in the Scream Factory collection and in Collector’s Edition form, no doubt.  Such a fun, silly, wild, weird and charming film.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Bubba Ho-Tep comes to Blu-ray with a pretty solid and impressive image for its debut.  Its not going to set the world aflame, but this image is the best the film has ever looked.  Its a hair soft, but I think that’s in the way they’ve lit and shot the film.  Details are pretty abundant, impressing with faces and details of Elvis and others clothing articles.  Bubba Ho-Tep himself is an impressive specimen, showing off plenty of texture and detail when he wanders by the frame.

Depth:  Decent depth work here.  Characters move cinematically with minimal blur.  Spacing is solid with background detail fine when the focus of the camera is friendly with it.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and rich.  Minimal detail lost in said darkness.  Grain is a little heavier in some of the lower lit moments.  No crushing witnessed during the is review.

Color Reproduction: There are a lot of wild, popping colors in the film.  Some of Elvis’ outfits in flashbacks are strong, but those aren’t long moments in the film.  Where the transfer strengths at is in the rustic, wood colored surfaces and objects that dominate frames.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural with an appearance that keeps good and consistent for the full duration of the film.  Facial details are impressive, mostly with Bruce Campbell’s make-up work holding up to any sort of high definition scrutiny it could have had.  The wrinkles, freckles and texture of Elvis is clear as day and manages to look pretty natural.

Noise/Artifacts:  There is a level of grain and very minimal specs.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  Bubba Ho-Tep debuts on Blu-ray with a very solid, above average 5.1 mix.  Its not too intricate of one, but it gets the job done and does have some fun.  There is a nice balance in this mix with a good weaving of the score, dialogue vocals and sound effects, letting them all have their time to shine while never having them mesh or stumble over one another.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer gets to have fun in some mummified battles, rolling with some fire and having a couple punches and crashes pounce. Its biggest involvements comes from the score.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This mix proves to be a front heavy one.  Rear speakers aren’t given much to do outside of ambiance and complimenting the score.  Front speakers have a nice heavy presence with accurate depictions of motion and placement of characters/action.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and clear.  All diction well accounted for, volume is set to a perfect, ideal level.

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Extras 

Bubba Ho-Tep – Collector’s Edition comes with reversible cover art featuring the original poster design.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer Joe R. Lansdale
  • By Director Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell
  • By “The King”

The King Lives! (HD, 22:01) – Interview with Bruce Campbell.  Bruce is very open about his thoughts on picking small independent films. He discusses how weird the film was and how great working with Ossie Davis proved to be.  He wonders if Priscilla or Lisa Marie ever watched the film and what their thoughts would be.  The sequel and what happened or didn’t happen is touched upon as well.

All Is Well (HD, 24:02) – Interview with Don Coscarelli.  The director talks about his process on making the film and mirrors some of what Bruce Campbell talked about.  He also gives his take and point of view on what happened or may happen with the sequel.

Mummies and Makeup (HD, 8:56) – Interview with Robert Kurtzman.  The legendary KNB founder goes over his work and input on the film.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary By Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell (HD, 3:16)

Footage From The Temple Room Floor (HD, 2:09) – Seen as quick flashes in the film, this an Egyptian sequence of how Bubba Ho-Tep came to be.

The Making Of Bubba Ho-Tep (HD, 23:34) – An archival making of from the original DVD release.

To Make A Mummy (HD, 5:02) – A featurette on the make-up and special effects from the original DVD.

Fit For A King (HD, 6:46) – Archival featurette that goes over the wardrobe for Elvis in the film.

Rock Like An Egyptian (HD, 12:42) – Featurette about the music of Bubba Ho-Tep (From the original DVD).

Joe R. Lansdale Reads From Bubba Ho-Tep (HD, 7:58) – The writer of the film reads some of his passages.

Archival Bruce Campbell Interviews (HD, 34:41)

Music Video (HD, 2:19)

Photo Gallery (HD, 4:17)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:16)

TV Spot (HD, :32)

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Summary 

Bubba Ho-Tep still rocks after all these years and has proven to be one of horror’s best all time comedies.  Everything on paper works against this film, but they pull it the hell off.  Scream Factory’s new edition proves to the be the essential release for it as it ports over everything and then adds some wealthy material as well.  The film looks and sounds terrific, better than it ever has.  Horror fans, Campbell fans…we all know this is going in our collections, so its no surprise this is an easy recommendation.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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