TR Interview: Don Coscarelli Tries Till the End on John Dies at the End

By Luke Y. Thompson in Movies
Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 8:45 am

LYT: The character in the alternate universe who sort of created the tangent, Cyrus Rooney - does he have any basis in reality, or was that just invented?

DC: No, that was completely invented. He's a fictional character as far as I know. The concept that there might be two parallel universes where the death of one guy can cause so much strangeness was an element of the book that I thought was great. I know it gets way the hell out there in that part of the movie, but I like to think that audiences will stick with it and enjoy it.

LYT: Have you ever been tempted to do a movie that's a lot simpler just for the paycheck, or is it just more important to hold onto the creative reins?

DC: That's an interesting question. I've had my opportunities through the years with various sequels and studio-type projects that just didn't work out for one reason or another. But absolutely, I would like to one day find myself in a situation where some producer will bring me a wonderfully written project on a silver platter, and another silver platter with $40 million to make the movie, but it hasn't really worked out that way. The kind of offers that I've gotten were retread-type sequel stuff, just nothing that I could really do that well with. That being said, I'm not averse at all to working in the studio world as some kind of position that I have, it's just that I'm still looking for the right opportunity at this point.

LYT: When you mention retreads, I was thinking someone must have made you an offer to do a big-budget Phantasm remake, right?

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DC: There was a lot of talk a couple of years ago when they were really impassioned, although here we are in this year, and I see there are two big ones coming up [Texas Chainsaw and Evil Dead], and I see that one was really successful over the weekend, so it'll probably start up again. I don't know what to tell you about that because the way that the studios approach it, they have their ways of making movies, and they're going to come up with some kind of a script, and I don't know whether they would treat the movie as respectfully as I'd like to see it, and that's always the challenge. They'd want to recast with all new folks, probably from the CW network actor-model types, and who's going to replace Angus Scrimm? I don't know if that guy has been born yet. So there are a lot of big questions with that kind of proposition, and I never really had an answer that sat well, but I guess if they offer me enough money one day, I'm like everybody else - who knows?

LYT: Is Bubba Nosferatu your next movie?

DC: I don't think so. It doesn't appear to have - we had had the funding put together at one point, but that appears to have evaporated now. I was never able to really get Bruce Campbell involved in it, either, so there's some question about who would play Elvis, so it's been a bit on the back burner. I think one day it might happen; Elvis is eternal, after all! I'm happy to hear that folks are interested in that.

LYT: I was talking to Paul, and he seemed enthused to play Col. Parker.

DC: And he would be awesome in it! There's just a couple of moving parts that we have to figure out to make it a reality. I don't know. I don't have quick answers right now for if it's going to happen.

LYT: How did you like the Bubba Ho-Tep action figures that came out?

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DC: I liked them a lot! I thought the design on them was terrific. I thought they really got the Elvis/Bruce Campbell likeness down great, and I thought the mummy was superb. We had done, about 8 years ago, there was a Tall Man model that didn't turn out that great, but this one was great - the Bubba one.

LYT: Do you have a next movie lined up? Do you know what your next project is?

DC: No, I really don't. I'm just doing my best to get this thing successfully off the launching pad. If that happens, it should help to get me some direction or scope. It's been almost a 3-year process working on this, and it's really been quite taxing, I've been involved in promotional, and I also did a lot of noodling with it, even after I premiered it. The curse of the digital stuff is that I continue to edit the movie and refine special effects even after it had premiered at several film festivals, because it's easy with the digital, but it's like quicksand - you get sucked into it and you never finish the movie!

LYT: What's it been like doing the festival circuit of non-genre festivals, like AFI Fest? Do you find that it's like a whole new level of acceptance that there wasn't before?

DC: Oh, absolutely, because the funny thing about it is that the ongoing genre festivals have established that the midnight audience is really viable, and now a lot of more mainstream and "intellectual" type of film festivals want to get on that bandwagon and sell a lot of tickets at midnight shows, because they've already got their festival in place, and it's a good profit center for them, I think. The good part of it for us was that we got to play in some cool places to different audiences. We played in San Francisco, in Seattle, at AFI - those were all good venues for us.

LYT: And if you do seriously get this off the launch pad, as you say, are there plans to expand this world further for you?

DC: I certainly think that we have a lot of inherent material built in, we've got the novel sections that we didn't put into the movie, we've got an entire sequel written by David Wong which is pretty great, and the two guys who play John and Dave, I really like them a lot - they're good actors and a lot of fun - so yeah, there's a possibility, but we wouldn't know any answers on that for a few months.

LYT: Having said that, I have to ask you the question in reverse - do you ever get tired of people just asking about sequels to your pre-existing works, as opposed to wanting you to do something new?

DC: (laughs) Look, I could take it the wrong way, but I love it, because it used to be "Phantasm! Phantasm! Phantasm! Where's the Bubba? Phantasm!" And now they're talking about all three of them - I find that funny and wonderful. So absolutely, thanks for asking about it.

John Dies at the End is now available to view on-demand, and opens in select theaters January 25th.


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