For this entry of Phantom Limbs, we’ll be dropping by the Shady Rest Retirement Home in East Texas to pay a visit to Bubba Nosferatu, Phantasm creator Don Coscarelli’s long developed yet tragically unproduced sequel to Bubba Ho-Tep, the 2002 adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s novella of the same name. As with that initial film, Bubba Nosferatu would have found a geriatric Elvis Presley doing battle with supernatural forces, this time accompanied by Paul Giamatti as Elvis’ notorious manager Colonel Tom Parker.
Joining us for a look at this hunka hunka burning sequel are Coscarelli and Stephen Romano, who cowrote the screenplay with the filmmaker.
As 2002’s Bubba Ho-Tep concluded, viewers bore witness to a climax which saw an elderly Elvis Presley fighting an evil mummy for all the spirits stolen by the undead villain from the retirement home in which the former superstar expected to live out his final years in anonymity. Elvis defeats the mummy and frees the souls of his friends, but not before receiving an apparently mortal wound and passing away as the universe assured the reluctant hero that “All is well”.
Even with this seemingly definitive ending, the film’s credits nevertheless provided a tantalizing tease for more:
“Elvis returns in: Bubba Nosferatu: ‘Curse of the She-Vampires’”
In the wake of the film’s successful DVD release, writer/director Don Coscarelli set his eye toward developing a follow-up. Though the end credits teased a brush with vampires, Coscarelli initially considered doing Bubba Sasquatch, which would have found Elvis battling a clan of murderous…bigfoot? (Bigfeet? Bigfoots?)
Further consideration, as well as an interest in the real Presley’s fascination with the occult and martial arts, led the filmmaker to mull over the possibility of a prequel featuring a younger Elvis whipping supernatural ass alongside his “Memphis Mafia” – his imposing, handpicked entourage. In addition to this approach, Coscarelli also considered throwing Colonel Tom Parker into the mix, seeing Elvis’ corrupt manager as a metaphorical vampire who could be easily written as a literal bloodsucker for the sequel. Thus, Bubba Nosferatu was born, initially taking shape as a nine-page treatment.
The following synopsis heavily references Mr. Coscarelli’s memoir True Indie, an essential read for fans of the filmmaker, as well as anyone interested in the trials and tribulations of indie filmmaking.
Picking up just after Bubba Ho-Tep’s finale, Bubba Nosferatu opens with Elvis’ nurse (played in the original film by Ella Joyce) discovering our hero’s just-expired body and resuscitating him. In the fallout of the first film’s events, the two survivors are sent packing from Shady Rest to a new rest home in New Orleans. On the trip to their new destination, Elvis admits his reluctance to revisiting The City Care Forgot due to the bizarre circumstances surrounding the making of a film shot in the area that he was due to star in back in the 1970s.