"Don Coscarelli created Phantasm, one of the most beloved cult horror films ever."



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It's always a joy to write about one of my favorite directors. Don Coscarelli is just such a director. In truth he's a writer/director (my favorite kind...). The reason I love him so much is that he's responsible for creating one of my all time favorite cult horror films. That film of course would be the 1979 release of Phantasm.

I'll always remember it like it was yesterday. There I was with my brother Paul and Pat, a great friend of our family. She had taken us to the local Drive-In Theater, a Three Screener on Route 114 in Middleton, Massachusetts. This is where I saw Phantasm for the first time. (On Screen 2, actually...) I remember enjoying the film, but not actually being that impressed with it at the time. Like many cult films, it's power over me wasn't revealed until years later.

At this time video cassette players were very expensive and certainly not commonplace. It took years after 1979 for VCR's to finally become affordable. It was then - during the 80's that I truly discovered how much I loved this creepy little movie.

Now finally having the luxury of owning a VCR and being able to rent movies on VHS (usually from privately owned "mom and pop" video rental stores - Blockbuster had not taken hold as of yet), I was able to re-visit Phatasm, this time on videotape. The bottom line is despite the fact Phantasm contains both weak performances as well as outrageous premises, (and some quite silly special effects at times...) it still has a huge hold on me. I can only say, "Thank You Mr. Coscarelli for making this wonderful little film!"

Don Coscarelli Jr. (his full name) was actually born on February 17, 1954 in Tripoli, Libya. Not only is he and his family part of the Italian Libyan population, but he speaks Arabic as well as Italian and English. He was raised in Southern California, where at a young age he was fascinated with cameras and filmmaking. Being the son of best selling novelist Kate Coscarelli, this filmmaking passion only makes sense.

Mr. Coscarelli has two children, Chloe and Andy with his wife Shelley Kay, a costume designer he undoubtedly met while making films. An interesting fact about Don is that despite the movie making success he's enjoyed, he was actually denied entry into UCLA's film school.

A consummate fan of science fiction, fantasy and horror, he's an admirer of fellow directors Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas and D.W. Griffith. He claims that one of the main ideas for his film, Phantasm came to him in a dream. He actually experienced a dream (or nightmare, I would say...) where a shiny chrome sphere was chasing him through a series of long marble corridors. On the sphere itself was an incredibly deadly needle hoping to stab him in the skull.

One of the things that always fascinates me about well known filmmakers are the potential projects they've turned down. In the case of Mr. Coscarelli there's certainly no shortage. Movies he could have directed include Silver Bullet (1985), Warlock III: The End of Innocence (1999), Conan the Destroyer (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) as well as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003). Even with all he's done, one of his dreams is to direct a film about time travel.

The last thing I'll tell you about writer/director Don Coscarelli is that he has the distinction of being one of the youngest directors to have worked with a major film studio. That studio was Universal Pictures, and the movie was Jim, the World's Greatest (1976).

We always encourage audience participation here at Fun Film Talk, so here's your chance. Below is our Content Submission Form and you're free to make use of it if there's something about Don Coscarelli you'd like to "share with the class." Thanks for taking the time to check out one of my favorite writer/directors, and most of all - Keep a lookout for any sharp floating chrome spheres in your midst!

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