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Baker's Dozen

A Cinema Baker's Dozen: Phantasm Director Don Coscarelli's Favourite Films
Mat Colegate , February 14th, 2014 05:58

Mat Colegate asks the director of Phantasm, Bubba Ho Tep and the recently released John Dies At The End to pick a Baker's Dozen of his favourite films

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In 2005, when director Mick Garris began assembling contributors for the Masters Of Horror series of short films to be aired weekly on Showtime in the States, Don Coscarelli was an obvious choice for inclusion. Due in a large part to his role as director of the Phantasm series of movies, Coscarelli's has become a name worthy of being mentioned alongside the great auteurs of horror such as John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon and Larry Cohen.

What he shares with these directors, alongside an obvious relish for the strange and uncanny that's reflected several times in his choices below, is a devil-may-care approach to following his own vision at any cost (and often lack of it) and a willingness to follow his muse down some extremely unlikely avenues. What separates him from his contemporaries, however, is his dreamlike approach to narrative construction and the muted, nightmarish ambience that often permeates his films. It's an approach that has paid off again with his latest film John Dies At The End, an adaptation of David Wong's novel that's finally out on Blu-ray and DVD now. Coming across like a frenzied mash up of Dude, Where's My Car? and The Illuminatus Trilogy, John Dies At The End carries on and fulfils all the criteria one has come to expect from a Coscarelli production: bizarre non-linear narrative construction, lashings of oddball humour and lots and lots of gore.

Don took time out to talk to me during what was a beautiful Los Angeles morning for him and a sullen rainy London night for me, and to pick out a Baker's Dozen of the movies that have fed into his fertile, restless imagination, an exercise that he admitted was not without its difficulties: "I have regrets for not being able to include some great directors. Cronenberg, De Palma, even Truffaut didn't make the list! I love Les Yeaux Sans Visage, there's a Richard Lester movie called Petulia which I'm a huge fan of... Dont Look Now, Body Heat... I had to narrow it down and I decided that I had to go with movies that I just enjoyed watching. These are the movies that I could watch at any time of the day from start to finish."

John Dies At The End is out on Blu-Ray and DVD now. Click on the images below to start the slideshow

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Kurt NovoGrohlic
Feb 14, 2014 2:21pm

Nice One Quietus! I've been waiting for a movie version of Bakers Dozen. Cheers!

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Chris
Feb 14, 2014 3:55pm

You read my mind Quietus, I was just thinking t'other day 'how about a movie version of Baker's'...oh, what... Kurt Novowhatsit says [above]. Great list too, always thought Starship Troopers had so much more going on beyond the bugs. Love that this guy is no snob and he is right right right on every count.

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Sean K
Feb 14, 2014 5:56pm

Great piece... Don Coscarelli rules! I haven't seen the Sorcerer so I'll have to remedy that soon. Having Un Chien Andolou in there makes perfect sense - a lot of the really gory bits in the Phantasm films are totally surreal.

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Feb 14, 2014 6:08pm

Coscarelli's films are awesome, but "John Dies at the End" feels like a misstep. Don't get me wrong, it's well-directed and you can definitely tell he likes the source material; the problem is with the source material itself. David Wong (or whatever is real name is) didn't write a very good story, and there are just too many problems with the source material to make a great, cohesive film.

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Sean K
Feb 15, 2014 12:59pm

In reply to :

I love John Dies... personally. the greater issue here is that Coscarelli just doesn't make enough films ... I would have loved to see the Bubba Nosferatu film but it sounds like Bruce Campbell put the kibosh on that by pulling out at the last minute. Funding is always an issue obviously. I'd love to see what Coscarelli could do with something like Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, or one of Adam Nevill's novels - Last Days or the Ritual perhaps...

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Ron Waite
Feb 19, 2014 7:13pm

I like all of his films but nothing can top the First and fourth Phantasm films. Whe the first came out, Angus Scrimm - visited us at the Ackermansion - got picvtures, signed some posters, what a great guy! And was my wife suroirsed when she found out he worked right around the corner at Captiol Records!

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Ben Parkinson
Feb 21, 2014 5:13am

Some of these are great movies. Some of these I've never seen. That being said, I would go with Seconds, Cargo 200, Brazil, Suspiria, The Astro Zombies, Jail Bait, The City of Lost Children, Martin, Black Sunday, Zardoz, Nosferatu, White Zombie, Dementia, El Topo, Idiocracy, Dawn of the Dead, 1984, Theater of Blood, Combat Shock, Fortress, Onibaba, Heat, Dark City, Psyched by the 4-D Witch, Mighty Gorga,

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Warren Bobrow
Mar 25, 2016 6:59pm

I saw Apocalypse Now at the former Ziegfeld Theatre in NYC.. There was something supernatural involved.. amazing film..

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