Written by: Sal Crivelli, Special to CC2K
CC2K’s resident Pop Culture Editor Sal Crivelli checks in with a review of the script for the planned sequel to the cult favorite Bubba Ho-tep, but does this movie stand a chance without Bruce Campbell?
In the process of reading Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires (God, I love that title), a blood-sucking sequel to the 2002 cult-classic Bubba Ho-Tep, two distinctly different words come to mind. The first, a knee-jerk reaction that started out strong in the back of my head and faded away as I neared the end of the story: “unnecessary.”
In a bit of Elvis ret-conning, we learn that The King was set to film a movie back in 1973, as arranged by his shady and controversial manager, Colonel Tom Parker. As we delve deeper (not too much deeper, the movie has the word “Bubba” in it), we discover that the legendary son of a bitch is actually a vampire, using his mesmerizing vampire powers to force Elvis to do embarrassing things like Blue Hawaii. Now, in 1973, he’s convinced our hero to make a picture called, not surprisingly, Curse of the She-Vampires.
The beginning kicks off exactly where the first film ended: Elvis dying on a riverbank next to his one-time partner in crime, John F. Kennedy (portrayed by the now-deceased Ozzie Davis). Nurse Ella resuscitates The King and the story continues a short while later, with the two driving down the highway, leaving their home behind.
The duo leave Shady Rest in favor of a transfer to a Louisiana old folks’ home. Ella isn’t invited to work there, but is offered a few days hospice for her to find a new job, and get Elvis settled. Upon arrival, Elvis is overcome with memories about his experience in New Orleans, working with the Memphis Mafia and the Colonel.
The script runs parallel between Elvis in the 70’s, shooting a movie called Curse of the She-Vampires, and the present. In the past, Elvis plays a character named Clay Burton, vampire-hunter. In the present, Elvis finds himself swept into playing the role of the hero once again, this time against his own nightmares (who occasionally turn into giant bats and brandish blood-sucking fangs). In keeping with the formula of the first movie, Elvis’s ass-kicking, geriatric partner in crime has been replaced by a “delusional” resident who believes himself to be Chief Sitting Bull. The change is not especially thematic, but it is a fun bit of consistency in this genre.
I feel like this is much more of an Elvis picture than Ho-Tep, playing with history and what could have been for The King. Was this a story that begged to be told? Quite honestly, when you consider the end of the first Bubba flick, you’d think they never intended for it to be sequelized at all. Yet, here we are. Fans of the first one enjoyed it, in part for its campy, monster-movie tone and feel. For the most part, however, there’s only one answer to any real enjoyment behind Bubba Ho-Tep, and his name is Bruce Campbell.
Bruce Campbell’s return as The King, a man in his seventies, would be just about the only reason to even consider a perpetuation of this franchise. A retired, mentally unstable, old codger of an Elvis, portrayed by The King of B-Movie Acting, fighting the baddies of our nightmares does sound like a novel concept, and a potentially fun franchise. Which is why it’s a damn shame we won’t get to see that, since Campbell won’t be reprising the role of Elvis. For whatever reason, he’s out. In his place we have. . .Ron Perlman?
This leads me to my second word, which I also couldn’t shake while reading this script: “surprising.” In the end, I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed this script. It’s pure, stupid fun with an ending that both satisfies, and delivers on every level. But even more surprising is the news that production appears to be moving forward sans Campbell. In that case, regardless of how good this script is, I don’t really give two shits about this movie. I like Ron Perlman, but not like this.