Celebrity Birthday of the Day – February 17

Don Coscarelli is a filmmaking whom I admire. His body of work may be small, but contained within it are some of the most interesting, surreal, campy, and unusual films of all time. When he was only 19, Coscarelli became the youngest filmmaker ever to have a feature film distributed by a major studio – that film was his independently produced drama Jim the World’s Greatest, starring the actor known today as Angus Scrimm. Scrimm would prove to be a sort of muse for Coscarelli, as the film that truly made him famous – Phantasm – also starred Scrimm in the role of the villainous Tall Man. Phantasm proved to be a box office hit, enough that it spawned three sequels, all of them directed by Coscarelli. Outside of the bizarre Phantasm films, Coscarelli also directed The Beastmaster, which, while undeniably silly, had enough of a cultural impact to warrant a few mentions on Community. In 2002, Coscarelli directed one of my favourite films of all time: Bubba Ho-Tep. It’s hard to put into words everything that made Bubba Ho-Tep great, but when a filmmaker can take a ridiculous premise like “elderly Elvis and black JFK team up to fight a cowboy mummy” and not only play it straight, but make the subject matter downright heartbreaking, then you know that filmmaker has talent. The fact that Bruce Campbell played Elvis helped a lot as well. Following the success of Bubba Ho-Tep, Coscarelli directed one of the first episodes of the all-too-short-lived TV anthology series Masters of Horror. Incident On and Off a Mountain Road was based on a short story written by Joe Lansdale, the writer of the short story upon which Bubba Ho-Tep was based, and is one of my favourite episodes of that series as well (it also stars Angus Scrimm again!). Coscarelli has a new movie in the works that looks extremely promising and truly trippy: John Dies at the End – definitely a movie I’m looking forward to. Don Coscarelli turns 58 today.

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