Susan Sontag’s notes are determined to outline the aesthetic phenomenon of camp. Broadly determined, camp engrosses the qualities of exaggerated stylization, modes of behavior and artifice. Ultimately movies stand to gain value when their content is exaggerated to the point of campy qualities or when a film takes itself too seriously. The movie BubbaHo-Tep isn’t taking itself too seriously to be funny but the set up is incredibly exaggerated beyond belief. Elvis Presley as we learn is not dead after all, he jut switched identities with an impersonator. Rather than living out a comfortable life Elvis is now rotting away at a Texas retirement home.

The film exists in its campy duplicity when Elvis is faced with a raging mummy that literally sucks the life out of the home’s residents. In order to escape the wrath of this mummy Elvis teams up it another resident, a black man who claims to be John F. Kennedy. The film is not a pure example of camp where the intentions of seriousness create laughter, nor is the film campy because time has dissociated our involvement with Elvis or JFK. The film is campy with regards to its premise that ultimately draws attention to its attributes. The sensibility of taste is overlooked because camp celebrates the refined taste for the bad. However this film does more than create a spectacle of pseudo-historical horror. The film creates an introspective view of aging and the process by which fame caricatures the understanding of an individual. Elvis is reduced to his glamorous outfits and recognizable phrases but at the same time we see him struggle with mobility.

The extravagance of seeing Elvis and a black JFK struggling to escape a mummy creates the oddities that qualify it as campy. Furthermore the film is not to be taken seriously but rather to see the impossibility of this film with reference to the humor it creates. The film could be considered campy without the element of the mummy if it were to be taken seriously. Instead the mummy constantly reaffirms the audience that the perception of this film should not be in believing it but in the pleasure from watching the familiar presented as a mode of artifice.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar