DON COSCARELLI – MONSTER MAKER

What was the whole thought process behind Bubba Ho-tep? How did such a unique story come about?

In the summer of 1989 I first heard of Joe R. Lansdale. I was visiting a local genre bookstore, Dark Horizons (long since defunct) and asked an employee what was new in horror. He showed me a couple books and then said, “You should try Joe Lansdale; he always has a high body count.” That was all it took to make the sale and I went home that afternoon with a copy of The Drive In. Later, I came upon Bubba Ho-tep in one of Joe’s short story collections. It was an Elvis vs. Mummy story…how could I pass that one up?!

Is there a possibility of turning Bubba Ho-tep into a franchise like “Phantasm?”
From the time I started working on this screenplay, I always believed that Elvis could battle more monsters in future sequels. Especially the way Bruce Campbell portrays the character… it’s so much fun watching this old geezer kick undead ass. Bruce and I have talked about our next project being “Bubba Nosferatu” in which Elvis would battle a coven of sexy She-Vampires down in New Orleans. Of course, we’re also considering “Bubba Sasquatch” in which Elvis would be banished to an old folks home in the Northwest where a tribe of killer bigfoots were preying on his fellow nursing home residents. We just can’t make a decision between the two!

How was it working with Bruce?
He’s great. Bruce is very creative, he had a lot of ideas…and I don’t mean that in a cliché sort of way. Bruce works hard…he studies his script. Because he’s directed himself, he understands the process and the pressure a director is under. He’s helpful and always had great ideas when I was struggling. And, of course, he’s great with the physical action!!

Was Bruce your first choice as the King?
Always. I just didn’t know if he would be available. This movie could not have been made with anybody else but Bruce Campbell.

Do you think you could have pulled off the same type of movie with major studio backing?
Absolutely not. The first thing a studio would have done would have been to cut the edgy parts of the script such as the “cancer on Elvis’ dick” subplot. They would have insisted on somebody other than Bruce and Ossie to star. They probably would have replaced me! It would be an entirely different kind of picture…but the catering would be top notch!

After selling out shows all over the festival circuit for what must be over a year now, I hear that Bubba Ho-tep will finally be getting theatrical distribution. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
This movie will not be denied. The good news is that the exhibitors like the movie. We are getting some great theaters in cities all over North America, opening in the fall. We are also bringing Bruce to some of the key cities to appear at the premieres. Bruce has a rabid fan base and the exhibitors appreciate that.

Any cool plans for a DVD release?
We have a lot of great ideas and plan on making it a memorable disc. I even hear that the real “Elvis” has been located in a facility outside of Tupelo and he may be coaxed into appearing on a commentary track. This just may be a rumor.

I’ve been hearing stuff about this final “Phantasm” film for a while now. Is it finally getting off the ground?
Making the “Phantasm” films is one of the singular accomplishments of my life. I am still fast friends with the “Phantasm” cast. We all hope to do at least one more “Phantasm” film before we hang up the old balls.

What will this last battle with the Tall Man entail?
Nothing less than a fight to the death over the future of all mankind.

Last order of business – “Kenny & Company” is one of the greatest Halloween films ever. Do you see the possibility of a DVD release ever happening?
Thank you for the kind comments. “Kenny & Company” is probably my favorite of all the films I have worked on. I still remember a reviewer describing it as “modest in the best sense of the word”. It is a simple film about three 12-year-old boys in the two or three days leading up to Halloween. The rights are currently controlled by 20th Century Fox and they never even released it on home video. After I get Bubba Ho-tep launched, I plan on contacting them about releasing the film on DVD or licensing it to someone who can.




Posted on September 12, 2003 in Interviews by

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