Eddie Presley is a movie that developed a legendary reputation among fans of outré movies. Shot in 1992, Eddie Presley was just a bit too early to have been able to jump on the then-hot indie movie bandwagon of the 90’s. Many of us knew of it and we greatly desired to see it.

Eddie Presley is a character study of a down on his luck Elvis impersonator, played very convincingly by Duane Whitaker. Eddie lives in his van and has a thankless job as a security officer. Yet he was once a reasonably successful entertainer with his Elvis act. Eddie hangs on and clings to his dream of a comeback.

The story is thoughtful and generally devoid of sensationalism. Eddie is a genuinely nice guy that viewers wish to see succeed, or at least find some sort of happiness. It’s a poignant, even painful story to watch, as he seems to spiral downward into the dregs of Los Angeles street life. Eddie gets his shot…at a seedy little club. Will this be a springboard to bigger, better things? Or will it be an occasion of shame and defeat?

I don’t want to tell a lot about the conclusion, but in a way, both happen to Eddie. The event turns into a psychodrama as Eddie confronts his personal demons in front of the meager audience.

Eddie Presley is a story about dreams. We all have them and many forgo them in favor of a safe life as a 9-5 worker. Others take a riskier road in search of their art. Society is filled with writers, musicians, artists and other creative types, but how many would pursue their dreams at the expense of their family, their homes, their finances and even their very sanity? Few, I’d say. An Elvis Impersonator is something to ridicule for most of us, but Eddie Presley shows that any human dream is sacred.

Another independent film was being shot at the same time as Eddie Presley. The debut of a soon-to-be-famous young man named Quentin Tarantino. Of course, Reservoir Dogs became a huge success, but I think that Eddie Presley is the superior picture. It is not as violent and exploitative as Quentin’s movie, and sadly, that’s what most people look for in a film.

Eddie Presley was directed by horror filmmaker, Jeff Burr. Fresh off of his unhappy and unsuccessful experience with Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Burr wanted to get away from the Hollywood system and chose to do Eddie Presley. He had a cast to die for, including, Lawrence Tierney, Ted Raimi, Clu Gulager, Roscoe Lee Brown, Tim Thomerson, Rusty Cundieff, Joe Estevez, John Lazar and many other cult figures, including Bruce Campbell and Quentin Tarantino in a very brief cameo as asylum attendants.

Eddie Presley was a little film with so damned much to offer discerning viewers, yet it remained an obscurity for years and years. I’m sure there were bootlegs to be had, but I never got one. It became a legendary, shadowy movie that was high on a lot of our lists of lost movies that many of us were dying to see.

It finally came out on DVD a couple of years ago. It came out from a strange place where few would expect to see a cinematic gem such as Eddie Presley to emerge. J.R. Bookwalter’s Tempe Video released Eddie Presley to a lot of surprise. Tempe is known for producing and distributing backyard movies of dubious quality. Don’t get me wrong, I happen to enjoy a lot of their stuff, but most of it is quite far from Eddie Presley in terms of production values. I salute J.R. for bringing this lost gem into the eager hands of offbeat movies.

According to the Tempe website, Eddie Presley is on 'moratorium' and will soon be unavailable. I urge you to consider picking up a copy while you still can.

Order Eddie Presley Direct From Tempe

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