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January 11, 2013

‘Bubba Ho-Tep’ revival: Bruce Campbell’s Elvis back in theaters

Posted in: Movies

Bruce Campbell, left, and Ossie Davis in "Bubba Ho-tep." (Silver Sphere Corporation)

Bruce Campbell, left, and Ossie Davis in “Bubba Ho-Tep.” (Silver Sphere Corporation)

Chances are you missed the chance to see Don Coscarelli’s “Bubba Ho-Tep” when it opened in theaters in 2002; most people did.

But a second chance is coming soon, as the cult favorite is returning to the big screen for a midnight showing to coincide with the release of Coscarelli’s new film, “John Dies at the End.”

Movies don’t come much odder than “Bubba Ho-Tep,” a horror comedy adapted from a Joe R. Lansdale short story about an elderly Elvis Presley and a man claiming to be JFK battling an evil Egyptian mummy in a Texas retirement home. The movie came and went quickly on its initial release, but it’s picked up a fair number of admirers over the years.

The film starred Bruce Campbell as an aging Presley and Ossie Davis as JFK. Both men have reasons for why they aren’t dead, the way history says they should be. Campbell’s Elvis supposedly switched places with a double before his death, while Davis’ JFK was “dyed” and left in a retirement home by Lyndon B. Johnson after the assassination attempt in Dallas.

“It’s sort of the companion piece to ‘Amour,’” Coscarelli joked to Hero Complex late last year, comparing his cult oddity to Michael Haneke’s Oscar-nominated drama about a couple at the end of life. “It’s about aging and death in a different way.”

Coscarelli still has plans for a possible sequel, “Bubba Nosferatu,” that has yet to be made.

“Bubba Ho-Tep” will screen at midnight on Jan. 18 at the Landmark Nuart in Los Angeles; Jan. 25 and 26 at the Landmark Sunshine in New York City; Jan. 25-31 (at 9:45 p.m.) at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Ore.; Feb. 15-16 at the Landmark River Oaks in Houston; Feb. 15-16 at the Landmark Egyptian in Seattle; and March 1-2 at the Landmark E Street in Washington, D.C.

“John Dies at the End,” another cult adaptation about a pair of friends who get mixed up with otherworldly forces thanks to a new street drug nicknamed “Soy Sauce,” opens in theaters Jan. 25.

To some, though, Coscarelli will always be best known for his “Phantasm” movies, which centered on the exploits of the creepy Tall Man, played by Angus Scrimm.

“The goal was just to finish the movie and get it out in a few theaters,” Coscarelli said of the first film in the series on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its release. “To think that decades later people would still be thinking and talking about it, I could have never imagined.”

– Patrick Kevin Day and Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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