Horror fans of all ages are no doubt familiar with 1979's Phantasm, a dreamlike, stylish sci-fi/horror film written and directed by the then 25-year-old Don Coscarelli. Coscarelli realized that a key component of fear is the unknown, and the mysterious graverobber known only as The Tall Man, with his cadaverous features and deadly, knife-sporting orbs, will haunt the dreams of even the most jaded moviegoer for years after watching the movie.
|See what I mean? Oh God, I'm never getting to sleep tonight.|
Sadly, after a high water point of 1982's Marc Singer/Tanya Roberts feature, Beastmaster (from a budgetary standpoint anyway), Coscarelli mostly wrote and directed a number of sequels to Phantasm through the 90's, never garnering the respect many horror fans felt he deserved.
In 2002, however, Coscarelli teamed up with beloved cult actor Bruce Campbell for Bubba Ho-Tep, in which a geriatric Elvis (an impersonator actually died in his place) and a black man who believes himself to be JFK(brainwashed and dyed(!)) must face an Egyptian mummy terrorizing their Texas nursing home.
A surprisingly touching meditation on aging and loss, containing perhaps Campbell's strongest performance to date (backed up by the wonderful Ossie Davis only a few years before his death) Bubba Ho-Tep was a critical success, and recouped its shoestring budget many times over.
Coscarelli fans spent the next decade waiting for a follow-up. Rumors of a Bubba- Ho-Tep prequel, Bubba Nosferatu, emerged, but the movie never materialized.
Our long wait has finally paid off with John Dies at the End, released in the waning months of 2012. Paul Giamatti not only appears in the movie, but is also the executive producer.
Salon has a terrific interview with Giamatti and Coscarelli, which you can (and should!) read here.
Your humble correspondent will meanwhile ponder whether things would have worked out between him and Tanya Roberts when he was 12, but with the soul of a much older man.
|Oh, Tanya, we could have had something special.|