Tag: Don Coscarelli

September 19, 2016 / / Main Slate

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” – Edgar Allan Poe, The Premature Burial

Horror and the surreal go hand in hand. As a genre, horror can be summarized as the intrusion of the irrational into the mundane. In Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm, we have a very pure expression of the mundane, in the form of the suburban everytown that most of the characters agree is oppressively dull (or to put it another way, “dead”), and an even purer expression of the irrational, in the form of murderous dwarves concealed in dark robes, a beautiful violet-dressed woman who transforms into a ghastly tall ogre of a man, and a levitating silver sphere that roves the halls of the town mausoleum on the hunt for brains. And that’s just scratching the surface.

September 22, 2006 / / Film Notes

USA. 92min. 2002. Silver Sphere Corporation. Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce, Heidi Marnhout, Bob Ivy, Larry Pennell. Music: Brian Tyler; Cinematography: Adam Janeiro; Produced by: Don Coscarelli & Jason Savage ; Based on a Story by: Joe Lansdale; Written by: Don Coscarelli; Directed by: Don Coscarelli.

Upon hearing a brief description of Bubba Ho-tep, one might assume that it was an intensely campy, irreverent B-movie that was pretty thin on characterization. The plot, can, after all, be summed up to some extent with the phrase, “Elvis versus a mummy.” It’s easy to imagine some caricatured version of the King of Rock n’ Roll taking on the monster. By now Elvis as an icon is as much a part of our collective subconscious—and as likely to be a Halloween costume—as any creature from the old Universal horror films. Elvis impersonators, Elvis on velvet, Elvis’ face repeated again and again like an Andy Warhol silkscreen; the idea of Elvis has become a vaguely tacky pop culture touchstone. Yet thankfully, Bubba Ho-tep is a more complex, and far more interesting, film than that phrase “Elvis versus a mummy” can convey. Writer-director Don Coscarelli, working from a short story by the idiosyncratic Joe R. Lansdale, succeeds in humanizing his Elvis and developing him far beyond a few rhinestones and a curled lip. As played by Bruce Campbell (himself a horror movie icon owing to his indispensable presence in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy), this Elvis becomes a hero to root for, not an object of ridicule.