The Horror Honeys: SXSW Interview: Don Coscarelli

SXSW Interview: Don Coscarelli

A Head Honey SXSW Interview with Kat

SXSW is screening the remastered 1979 cult classic Phantasm and director and writer DON COSCARELLI took the time to chat with the Horror Honeys about the freshly finished film and the legacy of Phantasm

What does this remastered version of Phantasm mean for you, especially in light of Angus’ recent passing? 

We put a lot of work into remastering Phantasm and I'm really happy with the finished product. In a way, it's perfect timing for its release and I feel like it's a wonderful tribute to Angus and all of the work he did on the Phantasm movies. He was very proud of his work in the films, and he loved going to conventions and meeting and talking with fans. 

I did some work on a few of the effects for the remaster - I added some CGI to an effect that never really worked for me, and then focused on cleaning up damaged negatives and enhancing the colors. You can see the green in the Tall Man's eyes now where you couldn't before. In previous copies it was like watching the movie through a pair of sunglasses; it's totally different now. 

Why SXSW? What do you anticipate from the screening? 

SXSW is the perfect venue for a film like this. It's a great way to show fans what we've done in a big screen setting and let them know that it will be out soon for them to see and enjoy the way it was always meant to be enjoyed. And also with Phantasm: Ravager in final stages of post production - Angus' last role - it's literally perfect. I've seen the remastered version with an audience already, and the reception was great, I'm really looking forward to the Austin screenings. 

SXSW is a great microcosm of press and reviews and exposure and visibility - distribution, coverage and everything else all in one place. It's amazing. I love SXSW. 

I know (as everyone does) that your love of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes was an early influencer for Phantasm - where did you take your new inspiration from? 

I've been a horror fan my whole life, and I decided that I really wanted to make a horror movie. So I wrote a story about a boy who tries to investigate a mortician and finds a secret doorway inside the mortuary. I wanted to make a film that didn't feel like every other horror film I'd seen - I wanted an element of surprise, I hate it when you know what's coming in a horror movie. When you see a door and you know what's behind it. Bradbury was definitely an influence, definitely, but I wanted to do something different. 

Our favorite entry into the “Masters of Horror” series was Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (check out Linnie's review HERE). The story was so rich with detail, even in the short film format. Was that story something you ever considering turning into a feature? 

Well, I don't have the rights to it, so that's off the table anyway. But I'm really proud of it as a short, and the actors gave some great performances. Angus really added something special in his role and I know he was really proud of the film when it was complete. I grew up in a house full of feminists, so I wanted more from our female character. The final shot in that film is my favorite. 

You directed genre favorite Bubba Ho-Tep, which was based on a novella by Joe R. Lansdale. We have to know… Have you seen Sundance’s television adaptation of Hap and Leonard, and if so, what did you think!?

Yes! I've seen two episodes and I love it. I'm a huge fan of Joe's writing and it's great to see it come to life. It has great characters and a very East Texas kind of pacing that I'm really enjoying. 

We ask this of all our prey: What’s your favorite scary movie?

It's so hard to choose just one. So many spring to mind. The Exorcist terrified me when I saw it in theatre, but I grew up with the Universal Monsters and I was really afraid of Frankenstein when I was a child. I love Italian genre films, Suspiria... but if I have to pick one, there was one thing I was terrified of as a child - The Twonky. It's about a possessed TV, and I was so afraid of that movie.

The Phantasm remaster will be available on DVD/Blu Ray soon and Phantasm: Ravager will be in theaters soon!