It’s a shame that anytime Elvis is resurrected, impersonated, or discovered, it is almost always in his sad, commodified, Vegas state. Don’t remember the man at his lowest, when he was drugged-up and overfed in a bejeweled jumpsuit—swallowed by his celebrity and spit out as a dancing bear. Remember him as Sun Records Elvis—the young, dangerous, loud, counterculture king. Unfortunately, when aliens resurrect Elvis in Elvis from Outer Space, he goes straight for the jumpsuit.
Elvis (George Thomas) is a polite country boy, so it makes sense that after being resurrected, he would repay the aliens by setting up a residency on their starship. After a while, however, Elvis gets a little homesick. It turns out he has a secret daughter and regrets never having met her. The aliens understand and bring him back to Earth, breaking a long-standing pact with the U.S. government. Shocked by the return of the King, the feds attempt to detain him. Bad idea. They must have forgotten that Elvis is a black-belt in fake karate, which is compounded by new extraterrestrial energy powers. Elvis gives the G-men the ol’ shake, rattle, and roll then heads off to Vegas to find his daughter.
“Elvis gives the G-men the ol’ shake, rattle, and roll then heads off to Vegas to find his daughter.”
There’s high camp, and there’s low camp. High camp understands what makes camp fun and exploits it for its own gain, while low camp is just looking to fit into a niche. Sadly, Elvis from Outer Space is the latter. It walks into the cafeteria with its shaky tray of food, scans the room, and sits down with the weirdoes—not because it’s a weirdo, but because they aren’t picky. The movie moves fast, and there are a couple of laughs to be had. An obnoxious, overlong, reoccurring intro to a daytime talk show is one of them, but otherwise, the film is boring.
There’s so much fun to be had with Elvis lore and such potential for absurd set-pieces given the premise that it’s dumbfounding how much of this movie is just serious conversations in rooms. If you’re wondering, the dialogue isn’t ironically funny, either, when set against the kookiness of the concept. If you’ve ever entered into a comedy special that quickly becomes a TED talk, you have an idea of what it’s like watching Elvis from Outer Space.
Elvis scholars will be interested to know that the late Sonny West appears in this movie as himself. West was both a friend and bodyguard to Elvis, a member of the so-called Memphis Mafia, so it’s surreal to see him interacting with a pretend version of his long-lost friend in a movie about that friend’s alien abduction and resurrection. Alexander Butterfield is also in this movie, playing a member of the CIA. Butterfield was in the Nixon administration and was a major player in the Watergate scandal. Of everything in Elvis from Outer Space, West and Butterfield’s appearances give it the most cred at the weirdo table.
"…Don't remember the man at his lowest, when he was drugged-up and overfed in a bejeweled jumpsuit..."