Intentional camp is difficult to do well. It's a contradiction that usually comes off cutesy and forced. The old Batman series pulled it off, and it's been B-movie god Bruce Campbell's livelihood. But in a long career of overacting and mugging, Campbell's peak may be Bubba Ho-tep, the plot of which informs us of the "true" fate of Elvis Presley. Campbell plays Elvis as an old man locked in a nursing home and teamed with a black JFK to do battle with a mummy. Yup. It works too, thanks to the frankly insane script from writer-director Don Coscarelli, and Campbell mixing real pathos with the potty humor (much fun is had over the King's lumpy balls). This special edition comes as loaded as an Elvis sandwich, with everything from commentary from the King to a slick post-comeback jacket to hold the case. -- Jordan Harper
This Is Elvis: Two-Disc Special Edition (Warner Bros.)
This crazy-quilt of death porn gets two takes in this DVD boxed set: the original 1981 version and the longer '83 VHS copy, which shows an actor playing Elvis actually slumped over the shitter within the first five minutes. Hard to say which is the better, as both movies are as exciting as they are exploitative: Commingling footage of the real Elvis with overwrought interviews and an impostor's half-baked narration, this thing is captivating only in how it manages to encapsulate Presley's entire life within the confines of a garish "tribute" overseen by grave robbers. Because, see, every time you're ready to shoot the TV, up comes some essential footage -- usually in shades of black and white -- of Presley himself, all swagger and sneer, before he crossed over into pooped parody. -- Robert Wilonsky
Darkman Trilogy (Universal)
In 1990, Sam Raimi's Darkman, the tale of a scarred, superpowered, crime-fighting scientist, was seen as an ode to the old-fashioned serials of the '30s. But its influence on the movies that followed it make it worth watching today. It was the first mainstream film for Raimi, and the mixture of brutality, spectacle, and high-talent stars (Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand) will ring familiar to fans of Batman Begins, partly because Neeson was in both. The film also has some scenes, like one where Darkman leaps across rooftops, dodging explosions, that have more Biff! Pow! Bam! than our modern CGI moneyfests. As for the sequels, well, they have a lot in common with the Fantastic Four films -- like being crappy but still watchable. (JH)
Flash Gordon: Saviour of the Universe Edition (Universal)
Alex Ross, whose lifelike paintings of superheroes tingle the spider-sense of men far too grown-up for such things, gets a whole mini-doc on this disc to explain his passion for the 1980 cult classic. Both he and writer Lorenzo Semple Jr. (in his own featurette) make a good case: Mike Hodges' take on the comic-strip-turned-cliff-hanger looks like a hip, garish live-action comic; it's as much rock opera (courtesy of Queen's score) as it is space opera -- and it's well aware of how cheesily camp it is, which is part of its charm. Sure enough, it withstands 27 years' worth of scrutiny. Sure, Sam Jones as Flash can't act a lick, but Topol as Dr. Zarkov more than makes up for it; you keep waiting for him to break out in song. (RW)
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