In recent American history there are only a handful of ‘where were you then’ moments, .the Challenger disaster, the assassination of JFK, and, of course, the death of Elvis. For some reason, Elvis still resonates through pop culture, and when asked I doubt there’s an Elvis fan on the planet who can tell you exactly why they’re a fan of the King Of Rock And Roll. That’s where we start…sort of…in the new documentary Altered By Elvis.
Altered By Elvis takes a look at several Elvis fans of varying intensities, what they do to honor their hero and why they do what they do. What comes out of these conversations is really a look at America, it’s not just the poor, it’s not just the old, it’s not even all Americans who obsess over Elvis, it seems that Elvis is universal and he’s still going strong after all these years. The real standouts of the doc are Larry Geller who did Elvis’ hair, Jimmy Denson who hates Elvis and Ray ‘Stingray’ Fitzpatrick, a Long Island Elvis tribute artist. Larry tells a touching story about doing Elvis’ hair before his funeral, Ray is a singer who doesn’t really do an impersonation of Elvis’ but does dress and sing alot like him and Jimmy is an older man who grew up with Elvis and who’s brother taught Elvis to play the guitar, and Jimmy still feels that Elvis stepped in and took the spotlight away from his brother, who was (according to Jimmy) far more talented than Elvis, who he describes as a ‘pimply faced little chicken’. It’s all great stuff, and those three are just the tip of the Elvis-berg…so to speak. There are people here who have seen Elvis in person, people who’s whole life is an artistic tribute to Elvis and people who still manage to make a living off of America’s obsession with the King.
Altered By Elvis is a great look inside this world that surrounds us all the time, I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who doesn’t know who Elvis is, and we all know someone who’s a fan on some level, that these people have taken their Elvis worship to the extreme just makes them all the more interesting. You can’t help but feel something for these people, sometimes it’s envy, sometimes it’s sorrow and sometimes it’s pity, but you won’t just sit there unmoved! Altered By Elvis touches an American pop culture nerve just to see who twitches, and it’s very entertaining. I’m giving Altered By Elvis three out of four cigars, and for once it’s because it’s a little too short, I would have loved to have seen a bit more of some of the people featured. It’s a great doc and if you’re an Elvis fan or not, you’re sure to enjoy it. You can get a copy for yourself by dropping over to Altered By Elvis.com and get a copy for yourself, even if Elvis isn’t your cup of tea, it’s always fun to watch someone who’s so passionate about anything! So, until next time, when I’ll put on my white jump suit and throw you a sweaty scarf, remember that the best movies are bad movies.