Don Coscarelli just might be the nicest guy to ever make a horror movie.
Okay, obviously, I don’t know that for sure. A lot of people make horror movies and a lot of them are actually pretty nice and I don’t want to short change anyone. Still, if you read his 2018 memoir True Indie, the main impression that you come away with is that Don Coscarelli is a nice, down-to-Earth guy who truly loves to make movies.
In the book, Coscarelli tells how he went from making making his first two films when he was still a teenager to directing Phantasm, an indie film that was a surprise hit and ensured that Don Coscarelli would be forever beloved by horror fans everywhere. Not only does he discuss how he came up with the film but he also discusses what it was like to work with people like Angus Scrimm and Reggie Bannister. He follows-up by discussing the production of Beastmaster, which was considerably more troubled than the production of Phantasm. (At one point, Beastmaster star Marc Singer throws a tantrum because he feels that Coscarelli has “abandoned” him on location.) From Beastmaster, it’s back to doing sequels to Phantasm, some of which are better than others and some of which, sad to say, are screwed by the executives. Some of the book’s best parts are when Coscarelli discusses what he had to put up with while dealing with studio execs who didn’t necessarily understand what Phantasm or horror in general was all about. Seriously, you think as you read those passages, just let Don and Reggie do whatever they want! Eventually, Coscarelli directs Bubba Ho-Tep and gets to work with Bruce Campbell, which is definitely a happy ending.
True Indie is a likable book. Coscarelli is an entertaining storyteller and his love of movies is obvious on every single page of the book. He comes across as the ideal indie director, a passionate artist who simply wants to entertain his audience while staying true to his vision. It’s an inspiring book, to be honest. You read it and you’re happy that Don Coscarelli is still out there and that he’s still doing it his way.