(2002, Dir. by Don Coscarelli.)
Why It's Here:
I feel like this list is waaay heavy on lighter/more comedic horror filcks so far, but it's darn impossible to find many horror movies that are more rewarding than Bubba Ho-Tep. Anchored by what is undeniably Bruce Campbell's best traditional acting performance, it's one of the most unique horror films thanks to its ability to balance drama, comedy, and scares in one well-drawn script. I've argued since day one that Bubba - despite its sensational plot - is the rare horror movie that's rooted in real human drama, and I still think there's a lot of people out there who don't give Bubba Ho-Tep enough credit for what it does.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
The first showdown between The King and a "big bitch cockroach" is a terrifically fun sequence in the tradition of the Evil Dead films. When Campbell utters a fine one liner at the end of the battle, the whole audience is alerted to the fact that it's about to get FUNKY.
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
If there's one film that has captured a similar quirky balance of character and splatter since Bubba, it's the soon-to-be-worldwide indie hit Some Guy Who Kills People. The stories couldn't be more different, but there's a willingness to share the lead's inner fears and embarrassing secrets that makes both films so accessible and even a little sweet. If you're a fan of Bubba, you should definitely be keeping your eyes out for this one.
What It Means To Me:
When it was just a blip on the horror radar - if it seems like that was a decade ago, it's because it was(!) - Bubba Ho-Tep mostly meant the return to prominence for Mr. Bruce Campbell, who many of us nerds were dying to see back in a leading horror role that mattered. To me, Bubba Ho-Tep passed those selfish expectations with ease and became something truly special. There are few horror films out there that make me smile and feel at peace like this one does. Those aren't horror's biggest goals most of the time, but in this case they are worth lauding.