Sunday, January 02, 2005

B-Movie Madness, Thank You Very Much

My New Year’s celebration began with a nice round of golf. It then progressed to dinner at La Hacienda Ranch, which has the best fajitas in the world. It culminated with good b-movies at the home of some friends.

OPEN WATER is a happy, feel-good movie about two unlikable yuppies who get left by their scuba diving tour boat and are eaten by sharks. I have several candidates that I would like to see this happen to.

If the reader has seen THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, they will have some idea about how this movie shakes out. Nevertheless, this movie is a bit more scary than BWP. The shark photography is pretty amazing, and unsettling. There are moments in this movie that will have the viewer squirming with the horror of it all.

However, there are plenty of other moments where the reader can MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 the movie to death. It deserves it. It honestly makes the movie a lot more fun to just lampoon the hell out of it.

All in all, the movie reinforces another great reason to live in North Texas: the chance of getting eaten by sharks is almost nil.

The b-movie madness continued with BUBBA HO-TEP. This is possibly the greatest movie about geriatric Elvis Presley fighting a mummy ever made.

The movie idea came from a short story by Joe R. Lansdale, a freaky Texan who makes my sick imagination look like the mind of an innocent child. I see movies like this, and I realize my own creative talents are pretty piddling in comparison.

The movie stars the greatness of Bruce Campbell, possibly the greatest b-movie actor in history. Readers will no doubt remember him from the EVIL DEAD series, most notably THE ARMY OF DARKNESS. (“Gimme some sugar, baby.”)

Elvis is alive, and not well, dying in a Texas nursing home. The place is being menaced by a 4000 year old, soul-sucking mummy. It’s up to Elvis and JFK to stop the miscreant mummy before it kills everyone in the place.

This is an incredibly well-written movie. Bruce Campbell (as usual) does an incredible job as The King. The man is a first-rate actor, and it’s a darn shame he never got used in any bigger roles. His cameos in the SPIDERMAN movies were pretty funny, though. BRISCO COUNTY, JR., was a great television show, but it died way before its time. At any rate, his performance is pretty amazing. How many other actors have gotten to play Elvis as a geriatric? How in the world does an actor pull that one off? I don’t think anybody but Bruce Campbell could have done it.

The dialogue is brilliantly witty, and somewhat poignant. I cannot imagine any life worse than being stuck in a nursing home. Throw in a soul-sucking mummy, and life would really be bad. The actors deliver some lines which will have you on the floor, and they toss them off with absolute deadpan delivery. Yet they also manage to nail the viewer with some pretty poignant stuff. There’s not many movies that can do that. The Cohen brothers have made a few movies like that, and Sam Raimi. Otherwise, this particular genre is pretty bare.

The soundtrack is phenomenal. The composer is a guy named Brian Tyler, and the music was incredible. He sounds like mixture of Chris Isaak and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. The soundtrack is haunting and melodic, and it really helps to make the movie what it is. I don’t think any other music would have worked in this film. Anything which would have acknowledged how warped the movie was would have ruined it. The music was very guitar-oriented, and I cannot say enough good things about it. Suffice it to say; I will be buying the soundtrack, if I can find it.

I hope these movies are harbingers of the year to come. If I enjoy myself throughout the year as much as I did early on watching these movies, it’s going to be an OK year. As long as I avoid shark attacks and soul-sucking mummies, I suppose.


Benjamin said...


Bubba Ho-Tep was almost a life-changing experience for me. Your analysis of exactly how brilliant Campbell performs is spot on.

I had never heard of this movie until my brother returned from college in the Spring. I bought the DVD, watched it, and have been unable to extract it from the hands of friends since then.

The other true great this year was Shaun of the Dead, which my brother and I watched to bring in the new year. My brother suggested a double feature, including Bubba Ho-Tep, but it is currently under foreign occupation.

Those two movies make me piss my pants every time I see them.

Happy New Years,

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll have to check out SHAUN OF THE DEAD. If it's anything like BUBBA HO-TEP, I think I'll love it.

In other news, I caught NAPOLEON DYNAMITE this evening. I wasn't nearly as impressed with it as I was BHT. It was ok, just not really worthy of much additional analysis, unlike BHT.

Happy New Year's to you as well, I'm kinda excited to see what weird stuff the year is going to bring.


Anonymous said...

Never seen Bubba Ho-Tep. Guess I will put it on my netflix que. Now the wife and I just saw shuan of the dead and it was great. we loved it.

My suggestion for movies is Snatch if you have not already seen it. Man it will have you rolling from start to finish...


Anonymous said...

I've heard good things about SNATCH. I heard Brad Pitt actually does a good job in it. This is about the fourth good review I've gotten on that movie, so I guess I'll have to pick it up.

BUBBA HO-TEP is definitely worth your while. And I understand that a sequel is in the works. This is good news, indeed. A local radio show had an interview with the director, so this is solid information.

Anonymous said...

I own the BUBBA HO-TEP dvd, and you did an excellent job of describing it. Outrageously funny, but at the same time kind-of sad to see a once-mighty "king" brought so low. Bruce Campbell really nailed that performance.

I *really* wanted to see SHAUN OF THE DEAD while it was in the theaters, but that's what happens when you have a kid. It's at the top of my Netflix queue, but it's currently listed as "long wait". So instead I'm being sent OLD SCHOOL. Oh well, I'll get to it eventually.

OPEN WATER didn't look like a movie I particularly wanted to see, but I could see how doing a MST3K thing on it would be pretty fun.

So when are you gonna call me about your other blog?