Bubba Ho-Tep Blu-ray Review
‘Bubba Ho Tep’ is presented in widescreen 1.78:1 with MPEG-4 AVC coding.
I distinctly remember that the DVD release of this movie was impressive but the low light conditions, which feature predominantly throughout the movie, did have a detrimental effect. I’m sorry to report that this BD release also suffers the same short comings. I was also disappointed to note that some of the scenes were of poor quality, with a smattering almost wandering back into the realm of standard definition. That being said, the low budget nature of the shoot probably meant that higher quality stock was not available for this transfer. The image can appear grainy at times, with the print coming across as slightly grubby and displaying some evidence of damage.
As is to be expected for such a dark movie, the colour palette is somewhat restricted for the duration. There are a couple of moments where some bright primaries shine through, but these moments of colour are reserved for the limited outdoor portions. The contrast ratio is strong, with some very solid blacks on display. Unfortunately, shadow detail is poor, with detail lost to the gloom. This aspect of the presentation is also hampered by lighting choices (which were purposely dark to hide the makeup of Bubba Ho Tep).
Delineation, especially during the indoor portions, is weak, with many of the long shots appearing distinctly soft. Even facial close-ups can’t manage to produce the amount of detail that BD is capable of. That been said, there were a couple of scenes which did manage to produce some adequate depth and there is some nice detail on show. The image quality is most certainly a step up from the DVD release (however marginal) and although this transfer also exposes a lot of new flaws, one has to take into consideration the restricted nature of the production and I’m not too sure if we will ever see a better looking release of ‘Bubba Ho Tep’ than this; at least there’s no visible evidence of image tampering, which would have been a lot worse in my opinion.
‘Bubba Ho Tep’ comes packed with a dts HD Master Audio surround track.
With an epic mix accompanying the DVD release, I was pleased to note that a full uncompressed upgrade was present on this release. Stereo separation is spot on, with great steerage at times, which serves to create an expansive soundstage. Vocals are crystal clear for the duration, from Elvis’s internal monologue to the suspicious whispers of JFK. I did note, however, that some of the vocals did crackle on occasion, especially during the higher frequencies.
The surrounds are used to good effect for the duration, with plenty of audible ambient effects, such as Bubba’s evil beetles climbing the wall behind the listening position. These beetles can also be heard whizzing around the room during their encounter with The King. As this is technically an action movie, there are a couple of scenes which get the sub rumbling. One of these is the bbq explosion, which produces a nice bass impact. Throughout the presentation, the sub does a good job of underpinning the track with some solid rumblage.
The score from Brian Tyler is a guitar driven piece, honky-tonk in nature (with the inclusion of some electric guitars), while managing to remain distinctly “Elvis”. The composition is presented with impeccable clarity and perfect treble and bass. There are a couple of segments, such as when the mummy is first introduced, which really provide some deep bass (through the presence of tom drums) and the surround bleed is more than adequate for the duration. Although this is not an overly memorable track, an admirable job has been done, especially with the complete absence of any Elvis tracks at all (although I suppose this does serve to detach this Elvis from the one who met his end on the khazie!).
I’m pleased to report that this track is as active and engaging as I remember. It’s at time boisterous but I’m glad that at least the audio presentation made the leap to Blu-ray with ease, unlike its visual counterpart.
The extras portion on this release are a direct port from the Collector’s Edition DVD release but I was very pleased to see that all of the features had been treated to a high definition overhaul. There’s also an introduction to the movie from the man himself, Bruce Campbell. He encourages the distribution of the movie and thanks us for taking the time to come and see the movie!
Commentary with Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell - Bruce Campbell always does excellent commentaries and this one is no exception. He questions Don on many of the scenes, coaxing a lot of information from him regarding the background of the movie. Don provides a lot of explanation on how the entire movie was put together, with plenty of interesting trivia and directorial insight. They discuss the characters and story, focusing on Elvis and JFK. Both are enthusiastic and are obviously very passionate about the finished product. Well worth a listen.
Commentary with The King - Set to the sound of snacks being continuously consumed, The King gives his thoughts on the movie. He provides amusing anecdotes on his life, while sharing his disgust over the way he is portrayed as a dying old man. I have to say that Campbell’s accent is impeccable and he never once slips out of character. It’s definitely not as informative as the previous track but it’s worthwhile nonetheless.
Deleted Scenes (HD 5mins) – This feature includes four deleted scenes with, optional commentary from Don and Bruc . “Hallway” shows another one of Elvis’s long trips to the bathroom. “The Lady’s Room” is a short clip, wherein the ruthless granny fawns over her collection of booty, stolen from the other rest home residents. “Footage from the Temple Floor” is a scene depicting the past life of Bubba Ho Tep. “Elvis and Jack Ruminate” features Elvis and JFK discussing the death of Kemosabe. The deleted scenes don’t really add much to the feature presentation.
Joe. R. Landsdale reads from Bubba Ho Tep (HD 7mins) - The author of the short story on which this movie was based, reads from the first chapter, which outlines the introduction of Elvis in the rest home. It’s interesting to hear how the novel is written and there’s artwork from the movie to accompany the narrative.
Making Of (HD 22mins) - The cast and crew feature is this “making of”, providing insight into how the movie was put together, with tonnes of b-roll and backstage footage. The meaning of ‘Bubba Ho Tep’ and the type of movie it is; Elvis and the incredible influence which he had; the actors who feature; how the tight timelines and miniscule budget put pressure on everyone and the fans reaction to the movie are all explored. Interesting and worth a watch.
To Make a Mummy (HD 4mins) - This extra looks at how the costume for Bubba Ho Tep was designed and created, with a limited special effects budget . Plenty of concept and backstage footage is included and the crew and actors comment on the mummy character.
Fit for a King (HD 6mins) - This feature takes a look at the many costumes which Elvis wears in this movie. The costumes all came from the company who made Elvis’s original jumpsuits (but they all had to be returned once the shoot finished!).
Rock like an Egyptian (HD 12mins) - The focus of this additional supplement is the music of ‘Bubba Ho Tep”. Brian Tyler is interview by Don. The musical director speaks in detail about the score for this movie, while also imparting information on his previous efforts.
“The King and I: An Excavation with Don Coscarelli” (HD 20mins) - In this interview style extra, Don speaks passionately about this movie and how it keeps the spirit of Elvis alive. The entire fascinating back-story of how this movie came to be and the meaning of its strange story are also explained at length. This is another worthwhile and interesting feature.
“UK Premiere Q&A” (HD 10mins) - Don speaks candidly and answers any questions at the lacklustre UK premiere of ‘Bubba Ho Tep’. At least Don is enthusiastic about the screening!
“Bruce Talks Bubba – An Interview” (HD 11mins) - In this interview, Bruce speaks about the chronology of ‘Bubba Ho Tep’, the inexperience of some of the directors that he has worked with in the past, his character in the movie (including the super fast electric wheelchair!!), the author of the book, working with Don and of course The King. As always, Bruce is open, articulate and engaging; making this well worth a watch.
Original Theatrical Trailer - Included here, for your viewing pleasure, is the original theatrical trailer for the movie in high definition.
Photo Gallery - A scrolling collection of still high definition images from the movie.
Music Video (HD 2mins) - Music video for the title theme of the movie.,
‘Bubba Ho Tep’ was released in 2002 and was written/directed by Don Coscarelli. The cast comprise of ‘Evil Dead’ legend, Bruce Campbell, and acting heavyweight Ossie Davis. The plot revolves around an elderly Elvis Presley (Campbell) and JFK (Davis), who currently reside in a retirement home, living frivolous and completely uneventful lives; they are both there to die. But with the appearance of an ancient Egyptian soul-sucking mummy, it’s up to our two iconic heroes to save the day. Although the plot is somewhat shallow on the surface, Coscarelli, using strong themes of mortality and the onset of death, allows Campbell to put on the performance of a lifetime here. Davis comes a close second. These two allow the movie to remain completely engaging and enjoyable for the duration, backed by some black humour. A movie that I return to regularly and continuously enjoy, I would have no problem in recommending this release to anyone.
The image quality is somewhat weak in comparison to other BD titles available. There are some scenes of poor quality but overall this is still worth the upgrade from DVD, albeit marginally. The surround track is as engaging and enjoyable as I remember, making full use of all available channels. The extras portion is well fleshed out, with bonus points gained for the inclusion of HD content. This release is a must for all fans of this movie, if just to sit proudly in your BD collection.
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