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elvis 2022

ELVIS (2022)

Colorful biopic is the latest version of the life of legendary singer Elvis Aaron Presley (Austin Butler). It traces his upbringing in the black neighborhoods of Mississippi, where he first got his musical influences, to his discovery by promoter Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), to his rise as one of the biggest stars in history, and eventually to his shocking and unexpected death in 1977.

Biography is directed by Baz Lurhmann from his script and story with Craig Pearce, Jeremy Doner and Sam Bromell. It’s visually stunning and filled with music as Lurhmann tells the story of one of the greatest performers of all-time in the director’s usual over-indulgent style. Underneath Lurhmann’s smoke and mirrors, though, is a heartfelt and sometimes powerful story of the life of one Elvis Aaron Presley. The film is interestingly told from the narration of Presley’s manager Col. Tom Parker, who is not painted as a good guy despite telling the tale. There are wonderful performances here that help make this work, especially from Austin Butler as Elvis and Hanks almost unrecognizable as the shady Col. Parker. The film is filled with not only Presley’s music but that of the black rhythm and blues and gospel artists that inspired Elvis’ music and style. These artists are given full credit for helping create one of the greatest entertainers in history. The film traces Presley’s youth among these artists, his discovery by the unscrupulous Parker to his rise, temporary fall and comeback as the music icon we know today. It also doesn’t sugarcoat or avoid the sad events leading up to his untimely death. It’s a visually stunning, music drenched biopic that is given a strong beating heart and soul by a director who seems passionate about the story and two leads giving it their best. An emotional and musical ride through the sadly too short life of one of the greatest musical icons of all-time. Also stars Olivia DeJonge as Elvis’ wife Priscilla, Richard Roxburgh as his father Vernon and Helen Thomson as his mother Gladys.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating






As many know, I am a photoshop artist and love doing faux posters! I haven’t done one in far too long and re-watching some John Carpenter classics on his birthday, gave me a fun idea.  What if in some alternate reality, Elvis Presley had not passed away in 1977 and in fact was a big fan of Carpenter’s Escape from New York. So much so, that the King of Rock n’ Roll, after seeing EFNY in 1981, approached Carpenter to do a sequel in which he would star. I envision Snake traveling to the walled no man’s land of Las Vegas for some kind of big heist and coming up against Presley as the ruling warlord “The King of Las Vegas.” As EFNY’s Cabbie would say, “Oh, that would have been so fine!” Yea, Cabbie, it would have! Enjoy…


poster art: MonsterZero NJ




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Today is a day many commemorate The King Of Rock N Roll, so we honor the legend in MonsterZero NJ style with this fun cult classic from the twisted mind of Don Coscarelli!…

Don Coscarelli’s Bubba Ho-Tep has already become kind of a modern cult classic and is a strange but very funny and imaginative midnight movie treat. Bubba tells the amusing fantasy (or is it?) story that The King, Elvis Presley, (Bruce Campbell) is still alive in a small Texas retirement home. He was desperate to live a normal life away from the pressures of his fame, so he switched places with an Elvis impersonator, Sebastian Haff (also Campbell) who was actually the one who died in 1977. A barbecuing accident destroyed their contract, which was the only proof Elvis had that he was…Elvis. So now The King Of Rock And Roll languishes in his old age with no one believing who he really is…except for fellow resident ‘Jack’ (Ossie Davis) an old black man who claims to be John F. Kennedy. Things seem bleak for Elvis and Jack until a bus crash releases a soul sucking mummy near the grounds who decides to make an easy meal of the residents of The Mud Creek Shady Rest Convalescent Home. Can the King and the former president regain former glory and stop this ancient evil from devouring all their souls?

Written and directed by Coscarelli, Bubba Ho-Tep is a really fun and delightfully quirky midnight movie. The creator of Phantasm turns this oddball story into a clever horror comedy that is perfectly cast and knows when to take itself seriously and when to wink at it’s audience. There are some legitimately suspenseful and poignant moments, as well as, a lot of genuine laughs and Coscarelli mixes them perfectly. Horror-comedy is not an easy blend to get right, but Coscarelli nails it with this little gem.

As for the cast, they are all fantastic with a tour de force performance from Bruce Campbell as The King and a wonderfully funny and yet sad performance by the late, great Ossie Davis as Kennedy. The supporting cast are all delightful and act accordingly with the tone of the material.

Bubba is a strange little movie and is not for everyone, but is great fun for those who can appreciate it. In my opinion it’s Coscarelli’s best film since Phantasm and a real original blast of horror-comedy fresh air.  Also features Ella Joyce, Daniel Roebuck, Coscarelli regular Reggie Bannister and stuntman Bob Ivy as Bubba Ho-Tep. Weird and wacky fun.

If you prefer something more down to earth to commemorate The King, check out our review of John Carpenter’s classic TV movie bio Elvis

3 Bubba Ho-Teps and a one and only King!

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ELIVS (1979)

I’m going to start off by saying I am almost embarrassed to admit that as a huge fan of John Carpenter and Kurt Russell, that this is the first time I have seen their first pairing together on this classic TV bio-drama. Written by Anthony Lawrence and directed by John Carpenter, who was fresh off of Halloween, Elvis (Kurt Russell with songs sung by Ronnie McDowell) depicts the legendary performer’s life up to his comeback concert in Las Vegas in 1969. The film traces The King Of Rock And Roll’s life from his poor upbringings in Memphis to rebellious teen who dreams of being a singer. A recording he makes for his mother (Shelly Winters) gets played on the radio and a star is born. The film then follows Elvis’ rocket to stardom, his stint in the military where he meets Priscilla, (Season Hubley) the daughter of an officer, and his career after making more hits and a slew of movie musicals that he grew to detest. The film also covers well, the sadness in Elvis’s life that started with the death of his mother and continued as he become a prisoner of his own fame. Elvis laments he can’t just go out and see the world like a normal man as he is swamped where ever he goes. He also become paranoid about those around him including members of his personal entourage and bandmates. Despite his love for Priscilla, his life of seclusion and his career drives a wedge between them even with the birth of his daughter. The film climaxes with his return to concert performing and while it is a success, it is also the start of the decline of his personal life and health that would ultimately lead to his untimely death that, according to this film, he disturbingly predicted himself. Carpenter handles one of his only non-genre films very well. He gives some vibrant life to the younger days of the enthusiastic Elvis’ career when a teen with a passion for music becomes a star practically overnight. The first half of the film is fun to watch with the young Memphis native enjoying his new celebrity and being able to spend money on the family that never had any. Then as we start to get into the negative aspects of Elvis’ rise to superstardom such as his feelings of being trapped and his disillusionment over Colonel Parker’s (Pat Hingle) control over his career and life, Carpenter gives us just enough to make us understand Elvis’ unhappiness and how his love of performing keeps him from walking away from it and sadly makes things worse as he sacrifices his personal life and relationship with the woman he loves to be a star. The movie never sinks too deep in the melodrama or gets exploitative in depicting the downside of this legend’s story though we clearly get a picture of a simple country boy who became more then just a man when a simple man was all he wanted to be. The film ends at the point where Elvis was on the brink of becoming a bigger star then ever yet, would also signal the downfall of his personal life and health. We don’t see his weight gain, divorce, addiction to pills but, we are give the seeds of what is to come and Carpenter and company let history do the rest without taking us there to see what we already know. The film was made in 79 so, the details of Elvis’ final years were still fresh in the publics mind. The cast are all good with Russell giving a truly haunting performance as Elvis. Russell is Elvis for all intents and purposes, at least as far as what we knew of the man. From his youthful excitement to a brooding and unhappy man who has conversations with his long dead brother, Russell is borderline brilliant. Shelly Winters overacts a bit as his mother but, not enough to harm the film. Bing Russell, who is Kurt’s real dad, plays his father and does a good job as a simple man watching his son become a superstar. We sadly don’t get to see too much of him during the later troubling times but, when we do, his concern seems genuine. Season Hubley plays Priscilla and it is no surprise that she and Russell were briefly married after the film as there are legitimate sparks between the two when they are onscreen together and she plays a woman torn between her love for her man and her own unhappiness wonderfully. Pat Hingle is appropriately slimy as Colonel Parker and we see clearly a man who found gold and mined it for all it was worth, maybe at the cost of a life. And Carpenter regular Charles Cyphers plays Sam Phillips who gave Elvis his start and sadly let him go when he knew his stardom had outgrown his little company. One has  to wonder if Elvis had stayed with Phillips, if his star would have shown less bright but, maybe Elvis would not have had such a tragic and unhappy end to his life. All in all, this is a very effective portrait of possibly the most famous performer of all time. It takes us into his triumphant rise and then gives us enough of a glimpse of the start of his fall but, without getting exploitative. It leaves enough of the gory details to our imagination so, the legacy of The King retains some of that legendary luster and, in my opinion, that was the right way to go with it. A very good movie about a music legend with an amazing Kurt Russell performance. Available from the awesome folks at Shout Factory on a beautifully remastered DVD.

3 and 1/2 guitars!

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