Bubba Ho-Tep: Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Mar 30, 2023
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Bubba Ho-Tep: Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)


Don Coscarelli

Release Date(s)

2003 (February 7, 2023)


Vitagraph Films/MGM (Shout!/Scream Factory)
  • Film/Program Grade: A
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: A

Bubba Ho-Tep (4K UHD)

Buy it Here!


Describing Bubba Ho-Tep to someone who’s unfamiliar with it can be a tall order. Even the director himself had a difficult time finding financing for it when originally shopping it around. Becoming a hit on the festival circuit through word of mouth and later becoming a cult classic on home video, Bubba Ho-Tep hypothesizes what would have happened if Elvis Presley was still alive and living in a run-down Texas rest home. As the story begins, he discovers that an ancient mummy is stealing the souls of the home’s residents and that it’s up to him and an older black man who believes himself to be JFK to take care of the mummy before it takes care of them.

After reading a synopsis like that, you’ve really got to hand it to Don Coscarelli. He’s often been a director that has managed to dig up some fairly off the wall concepts for his films. Bubba Ho-Tep is about as far out of left field as you can imagine, but manages to achieve greatness in spite of itself. Based on a novella by Joe R. Lansdale, the strongest aspect of the film other than its concept is its lead performance by Bruce Campbell. He’s so good in his role that it gives the film all of the confidence that it needs. There’s an integrity and an authenticity to it that a lesser director might not have taken advantage of. However, due to Coscarelli’s direction, you buy it lock, stock, and barrel, even when the sillier aspects of the story kick in.

Bubba Ho-Tep is a blend of horror, comedy, and drama, attempting to mix tones and, at times, going for what some would consider to be low brow humor in a few places. However, the story and how it eventually plays out makes you actually care for the characters and overlook things that you may find questionable otherwise. There’s a lot of depth and heart in addition to the horror elements. You might even find yourself getting a little choked up in the final moments. Even the unorthodox score, which is not much more than laid back, Elvis Presley-inspired southern rock, puts the film in its time and place while cementing its characters’ emotions perfectly. Labeling it as merely a horror film doesn’t fully encapsulate what it’s about. All those things aside, Bubba Ho-Tep is well-crafted and worth getting reacquainted with.

Bubba Ho-Tep was shot by director of photography Adam Janeiro on 35 mm film using Arriflex 535 cameras and spherical lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Scream Factory brings the film to Ultra HD for the first time with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, graded for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are included). The improvements are obvious in terms of clarity and fine detail. The bitrate is a little erratic and dips occasionally, but primarily sits in the 70 to 90Mbps range. Grain levels can be course in certain scenes and more even-keeled in others, which is more down to the original materials, but stands out much more in high definition. Even so, everything appears natural to its 35 mm source. The HDR grades, particularly Dolby Vision, really bring out the richness in the color. The rest home is made up of dingy browns and whites that are thicker with detail, but hues really pop during flashback sequences of Elvis’ stage performances. Blacks are deep with excellent contrast, and the majority of the presentation is clean and problem-free.

Audio options include English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks (which appear to be the same two tracks included on the previous Blu-ray release) with optional subtitles in English SDH. The 5.1 track is of the same quality as the stereo option, but is mostly a front-heavy experience. The rear speakers allow for ambient activity and give the score room to breathe. Dialogue on both tracks is clean and clear, while sound effects have some punch to them. Low end activity, in particular, really kicks in during certain moments.

Bubba Ho-Tep on 4K Ultra HD sits in a black amaray case with a 1080p Blu-ray, featuring the primary artwork for the film on the insert and slipcover. The following extras are included on each disc:


  • Audio Commentary with Joe R. Lansdale and Michael Felsher
  • Audio Commentary with Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell
  • Audio Commentary with “The King”


  • Audio Commentary with Joe R. Lansdale and Michael Felsher
  • Audio Commentary with Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell
  • Audio Commentary with “The King”
  • The King Lives! with Bruce Campbell (HD – 22:01)
  • All Is Well with Don Coscarelli (HD – 24:02)
  • Mummies and Make-Up with Robert Kurtzman (HD – 8:56)
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell (SD – 2 in all – 3:16)
  • Footage from the Temple Room Floor (Uspcaled SD – 2:09)
  • The Making of Bubba Ho-Tep (SD – 23:34)
  • To Make a Mummy (SD – 5:02)
  • Fit for a King: Dressing Bruce Campbell (SD – 6:46)
  • Rock Like An Egyptian: The Music of Bubba Ho-Tep (SD – 12:42)
  • Bubba Ho-Tep Chapter 1: A Novella as Read by Joe R. Lansdale (Upscaled SD – 7:58)
  • Archival Bruce Campbell Interviews (SD – 23 in all – 34:41)
  • Bubba Ho-Tep: Filming Locations Then & Now (SD – 13:52)
  • Bubba Ho-Tep: The Premiere (SD – 3:15)
  • Bubba Ho-Tep: At the Toronto Film Festival (SD – 31:11)
  • Music Video (HD – 2:19)
  • Photo Gallery (HD – 50 in all – 4:17)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:16)
  • TV Spot (HD – :32)

The first audio commentary, which was recorded for Scream Factory’s 2016 Blu-ray release, features author Joe R. Lansdale and Red Shirt Pictures’ Michael Felsher, the latter of whom interviews Lansdale while they watch the film. They discuss his background, his career as an author, and his feelings about the final film, of which he’s very positive. The second audio commentary, which was recorded for MGM’s 2004 DVD release, features director Don Coscarelli and actor Bruce Campbell, which is a more traditional track, but nonetheless enjoyable and informative. The third track, also from 2004, features Bruce Campbell commenting on the film as Elvis from an “undisclosed location.” He watches it and seems confused about the whole thing, eating and muttering about it as it goes along. Its cute, but kind of pointless if you’re looking for something more enlightening.

The King Lives!, All Is Well, and Mummies and Make-Up separately speak to Campbell and Coscarelli about the making of the film, highlighting the challenges of adapting Lansdale’s material, and their reactions to how it’s been received. The two deleted scenes feature optional audio commentary by Coscarelli and Campbell, covering a couple of brief moments that Coscarelli felt weren’t necessary for the final film. Footage from the Temple Room Floor is a set of outtakes from the mummy flashback sequence. The Making of Bubba Ho-Tep, To Make a Mummy, Fit for a King, and Rock Like an Egyptian all carry over from MGM’s original DVD release and cover the making of the film. Bubba Ho-Tep Chapter 1 features Lansdale reading from his novella. The two Archival Bruce Campbell Interviews include an introduction to the UK theatrical screening of the film and an extended version of the Bruce on Bubba interview (a shorter version can be found on Region B releases of the film). Next are three newly-included featurettes, including a Filming Locations Then & Now segment, and separate sets of film premiere footage. Additionally, there’s a music video for the excellent end credits theme by composer Brian Tyler, a photo gallery, the original theatrical trailer, and a TV spot. Missing from various Region B releases are additional interviews with Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell, US and UK premiere footage and Q&A, and additional deleted scenes.

I stated as much in my review of Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release, but I continue to maintain that Bubba Ho-Tep is Don Coscarelli’s finest work. The Phantasm series may have more reach and appeal, and The Beastmaster has its share of fans, but the pathos and execution of the material in Bubba-Ho Tep, mixed with the performances and score, is unrivaled compared to his other work. Scream Factory’s UHD revisit offers a substantial bump in visual quality with a very fine extras package. If you’ve slept on this one, seek it out.

- Tim Salmons

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