Don Coscarelli

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Donald Coscarelli
BornDon Coscarelli, Jr.
(1954-02-17) February 17, 1954 (age 64)
Tripoli, Libya
OccupationFilm director
Spouse(s)Shelley Kay

Don Coscarelli, Jr. (born February 17, 1954) is an American film director, producer and screenwriter[1] best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series,[2] The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep.[3]


Coscarelli was born in Libya and raised in Southern California. Although his family was not connected with the motion picture business, he was fascinated with cameras and filmmaking at an early age. Long before he was old enough to attend film school, his short films, made with the help of neighborhood friends in his home town of Long Beach, California, were winning prizes on television.

At the age of nineteen, Coscarelli became the youngest director to have a feature film distributed by a major studio when he sold his independently produced and critically acclaimed drama, Jim the World's Greatest, to Universal Pictures. The film was the first collaboration for Coscarelli with actor Lawrence Rory Guy, who went on to achieve horror icon status under the screen name Angus Scrimm.[citation needed] Jim the World's Greatest was an official selection of the USA Film Festival.

Coscarelli is best known for the Phantasm films. Phantasm and its four successful sequels spawned a huge cult of fans around the world and have become staples in the home video and DVD market.[citation needed] The original Phantasm was a worldwide critical and box-office success and won the Special Jury Prize at the Festival du Cinema Fantastique at Avoriaz, France.

Coscarelli also co-wrote (with Paul Pepperman) and directed The Beastmaster,[4] which was described by Entertainment Weekly as "a surefire audience favorite."[5] The Beastmaster has spawned two sequels[6][7] and a television series.[8]

Coscarelli was the recipient of the Bram Stoker Award for Best Screenplay for his film Bubba Ho-Tep, which he also directed. Based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-Tep stars Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis and frequent Coscarelli collaborator Reggie Bannister. In addition to being a critical hit, Bubba Ho-Tep was also a festival favorite, playing in such prestigious international film festivals as the Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, Florida Film Festival, Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Films, and the Hong Kong International Film festival. At HBO's US Comedy Arts Festival, Coscarelli was the recipient of the Best Screenplay Award. At Montreal's FantAsia Festival Bubba Ho-Tep was the recipient of the Best International Film award.

Coscarelli also directed the premiere episode of the American TV series Masters of Horror entitled Incident On and Off a Mountain Road[9] and co-wrote the teleplay with Stephen Romano. In 2008 Coscarelli purchased film rights to the horror novel and internet series John Dies at the End by David Wong, the film was completed in 2011 and released in 2013.[10]

In 2018 he published his memoir, True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking.


Coscarelli frequently collaborates with his wife, costume designer Shelley Kay.[11] His daughter is award-winning vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli.[12]



Phantasm (1979) Special Prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival
The Beastmaster (1982) Antenne II Award at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival
Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994) Chainsaw Award for Best Limited-Release/Direct-to-Video Film
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002) Bram Stoker Awards for Best Screenplay, Nominated - Best Film at the Fantasporto
Don Coscarelli (2004) Fangoria Horror Hall of Fame
John Dies at the End (2012) Philadelphia Film Festival, Audience Award - Honorable Mention


  1. ^ "Don Coscarelli". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Canby, Vincent (June 1, 1979). "Phantasm". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (September 26, 2003). "Bubba Ho-Tep". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (August 20, 1982). "The Beastmaster (1982) 'BEASTMASTER,' AN ADVENTURE-FANTASY". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Browne, David (September 10, 1993). "Why The Beastmaster?". Entertainment Weekly.
  6. ^ The New York Times
  7. ^ The New York Times
  8. ^ The New York Times
  9. ^ Stasio, Marilyn (October 28, 2005). "The Horror Tales You Haven't Seen". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Stewart, Andrew (February 2, 2013). "Happy 'End' for cult pic". Variety.
  11. ^ Fangoria Staff (January 3, 2013). "Don Coscarelli: "JOHN DIES AT THE END" was a family affair". Fangoria.
  12. ^

External links[edit]