Elvis Lives! The documentary takes the legend of rock n’ roll icon Elvis Presley to the next level, bringing one of the most infamous conspiracy theories to life and asking the question, “What if Elvis never really left the building?”
Actor: David Violi, Kelsey Griswold, Jonathan Nation
Director: Steve Balderson
Country: United States
Duration: 82 min
Thinking people everywhere know that Elvis Presley is alive. We just disagree on the details, like where and how, and what his hair looks like these days. All of us, though, are probably going to be disappointed in the rather bland possibility presented in “Elvis Lives!,” a Tuesday night movie on AXS TV.
The film, having its premiere on the anniversary of Presley’s supposed death in 1977, imagines that the King underwent an identity scrub for his own protection, and to keep his family safe. The version of Presley we see — he’s played by Jonathan Nation, whose previous credits include “Mega Piranha” and “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus” — is paranoid, delusional and rabidly opposed to illegal drugs, though he shovels in the prescription variety like candy. He’s also growing weary, looking for a way to escape his financial and personal troubles and the demons he thinks are after him.
“No more death threats, no more dramatics, no more me,” he tells an F.B.I. agent who is advising him. “I’m tired of waiting around for someone to kill me. I’m ready to get it over with myself.”
Anyway, his personal war on drugs eventually leads him to bump up against organized crime, and the rest is, well, imagined history.
The film, this channel’s first foray into made-for-TV movies, has tidbits of Presley trivia that hard-core fans will recognize. That drug agent badge he got from President Richard M. Nixon turns up. So does Ginger Alden (Kelsey Griswold), whom Presley had promised to marry and who found his body (but, apparently, didn’t look at it too closely). Presley’s twin, his father (Doug Burch), his daughter and more are also here.
It’s a rather incoherent jumble, jumping around in time and never really building any suspense. More to the point, it’s not outlandish enough to be worthy of its larger-than-life central character. Any theory that involves the nondeath of the King — he would be 81 now, by the way — should include space aliens or teleportation or Bigfoot, or all three. If it’s not called “Elvis vs. Mega Squid in the Bermuda Triangle,” don’t bother making it.