When Bubba Ho-Tep was first released to home video, it arrived in the heart of a DVD renaissance where companies and filmmakers alike realized they could add a lot of extra value to a title via bonus features. Fittingly, the original MGM DVD was a nice little special edition with extras masterminded by Don Coscarelli. However, fans have been waiting for a hi-def overhaul for a while now and Scream Factory has added to their “Collector’s Edition” line of deluxe reissues. The results are worth the time for fans and cult movie collectors in general.
Things start off with a nice new 2K transfer. It captures the film’s oft-shadowy look and earthy color schemes well while also lending a vividness to the occasional bursts of color. Both 5.1 and 2.0 lossless stereo mixes are included. The 5.1 track was utilized for this review and it’s a good one, making subtle but effective use of surround effects and giving a nice, full-blooded presence to Brian Tyler’s excellent rock score.
Fans will be happy to know that the old extras have been retained for this set and supplement with some new goodies. Read on for a rundown of all the bonus features…
Commentary 1: a new track that pairs author Joe R. Lansdale with moderator Michael Felsher. It’s a fun, conversational session in which Lansdale gets into his history and inspirations as a writer, the experiences and influences that informed his original short story and provides a thoughtful exploration of the characters and themes. He’s a great cheerleader for the film and Felsher keeps his enthusiasm stoked without interfering with the flow of his thoughts.
Commentary 2: director Don Coscarelli teams up with Bruce Campbell for this track. It covers all sorts of terrain, including the complexities of the makeup effects, techniques used for different shots, memories of different cast members and what was added to the story to flesh out the script. Coscarelli is low-key and keeps the proceedings on track while Campbell cracks wise in a charming manner.
Commentary 3: a track by “the King,” a.k.a Campbell schticking it up in character as Elvis. The comic conceit works as Campbell is not only funny but good at improvising. He mispronounces the director’s name, munches on snacks, plugs several vintage Elvis movies and critiques the film’s take on Elvis history and Campbell’s performance. He even gives a peanut butter and banana sandwich recipe – and sings!
Bruce Campbell Interview (22:01): the veteran cult movie star talks about the factors that led him to choose the role, including the affinity he shares with Coscarelli as a fellow indie genre filmmaker. He rhapsodizes about the passion for indie filmmaking that united everyone on thsi film and offers his side of the story on why the sequel promised in the credits has never been made.
Don Coscarelli Interview (24:02): the director gets into the challenges of making an “unfundable” indie. He praises his collaborators, particularly the cast members, and discusses his sincere desire to honor Elvis’ memory. There’s also some interesting material on how the film’s odd concept worked in its favor commercially and how MGM became involved in its video distribution.
Robert Kurtzman Interview (8:56): a quick chat with the makeup FX co-designer. He talks about his history with Campbell, praising his ability to use makeup as part of a performance, and also gets into details on the mummy suit and how the Texas heat of the location made the Elvis makeup tough to maintain.
Deleted Scenes (3:16): some quick snips with optional commentary from Campbell and Coscarelli. The commentary is recommended as it offers some insight into the film’s use of narration.
Footage From The Temple Room Floor (2:09): this segment offers full takes of the Egyptian flashback footage shown in fits and starts in the actual film.
Making Of (23:34): a nice DVD-era featurette that covers the conception, production and reception of the film with all the key cast and several filmmakers represented. You get some nice behind-the-scenes footage that gives insight into the makeup and stunts – and it’s cool to see Ossie Davis and Ella Joyce interviewed.
To Make A Mummy (5:02): quick segment on the film’s mummy suit, providing a breakdown of the suit’s design via FX team interviews and behind-the-scenes footage
Fit For A King (6:46): a brief featurette on the genuine Elvis jumpsuits used in the film as well as the fatsuit that Campbell wore for much of the film.
Rock Like An Egyptian (12:42): interesting piece with Coscarelli interviewing composer Brian Tyler about the film’s score. He talks about his scoring process, including some neat footage of Tyler at work, and both discuss how they made their creative needs sync up for the project.
Reading (7:58): audio segment with Lansdale reading an excerpt from his original short story. It gives you a feel for the author’s gonzo sense of humor and gift for vivid descriptions.
Archival Bruce Campbell Interviews (34:41): a collection of the uncut sitdowns used for the Campbell interviews in the film’s making-of piece. You get more on the topics of Elvis, Ossie Davis and the film’s style and tone. There’s also a fun thank-you spot that Campbell shot for the film’s promotional street team.
Additional Extras: music video for the film’s main theme, a theatrical trailer and a t.v. spot
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Bubba Ho-Tep, click here.