This weekend, we remember Elvis Presley on the August 16 anniversary of his untimely passing, in 1977. It has been a hard summer in that regard, as we've said goodbye to pop culture icons as massive as Michael Jackson and John Hughes. Presley was the original though, the very first rock star. He came screaming out of pop culture's embryo with an electric guitar and lasciviously swaying hips. The King was a legend long before he left us
As we all know of course, Elvis never died. No, none of that ridiculous "he's living with aliens on another planet" conspiracy nonsense. Elvis never really died because he continues to influence the arts, even to this day. Not just in music, but in film as well. Whether he's a sexual deviant, an invisible friend or even a mummy-hunting geriatric, The King lives on in our hearts, minds and movie theaters, and he will for a very long time to come.
"Bubba Ho-Tep" (2002)
Might as well hit the ground with guns blazing. The conceit behind Don Coscarelli's "Bubba Ho-Tep" alone is enough to sell it. Elvis (Bruce Campbell!) never died; he simply went into hiding in a Texas nursing home, the same place where an in-hiding John F. Kennedy -- who is apparently a black man, played by Ossie Davis -- is also living out his twilight years. That same nursing home becomes the target of an ancient mummy, which preys on residents as they sit on the crapper. Only the geriatric superpowers of JFK and The King can save the day.
"Honeymoon in Vegas" (1992)
Against all odds, "Honeymoon in Vegas" works. On the eve of their Las Vegas wedding, Jack (Nicolas Cage) and Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) are caught in a sticky situation: come up with Jack's $65,000 poker debt -- lost in a rigged game, 'natch -- or leave Betsy in the care of dirty-dealing pro gambler Tommy Korman (James Caan) for the weekend. The predictable beats that follow reach their climax when Jack hitches a ride back to Vegas aboard a plane full of skydiving Elvis impersonators in light-up jumpsuits. Sure, Elvis Presley doesn't actually appear as a character in this movie. But I figure that 100 skydiving King impersonators is a mighty close second.
"True Romance" (1993)
In Quentin Tarantino's first script, a love story, Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) and Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) try to run away together by selling off a bundle of stolen cocaine. Of course, anytime a large stash of drugs is stolen you can expect large brutes with guns to follow the trailer. Such is the case in "True Romance," as Clarence and Alabama get mixed up in all sorts of trouble. Through all of the madness, the one thing that keeps Clarence together is his imaginary pal Elvis. Whenever the crises reach unmanageable proportions, he ducks away for a chat with The King -- played by Val Kilmer --to get his head straight.
"Forrest Gump" (1994)
Little do we all know it, but the world would have been a much different place if a young Elvis Presley hadn't stopped for a night at a little bed and breakfast in Greenbow, Alabama. That's where The King met a young Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), who taught the future rock star how to shake his hips. That signature dance move inspired millions of young women, angered twice as many parents and was in many ways the keystone of a cultural revolution. All thanks to little Forrest and those damnable leg braces of his.
"Sleeping Dogs Lie" (2006)
Elvis plays a minor role in "Sleeping Dogs Lie," a twisted rom-com from the mind of Bobcat Goldthwait. The bulk of the story revolves around Amy (Melinda Page Hamilton), a newly engaged young woman who labors over whether to share a dirty, shameful secret with her husband-to-be: that she... errr... pleasured her dog on a whim one quiet college evening. In an effort to inspire her daughter to be honest -- not knowing what the secret is of course -- Amy's mother relates the story of Elvis once having her and a friend wrestle in his bedroom while he watched. There's also a Roy Orbison anecdote, but he died in December.