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Don Coscarelli

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Don Coscarelli
Coscarelli at Nocturna Fest Madrid in 2017
Born (1954-02-17) February 17, 1954 (age 70)
Occupation(s)Film director
SpouseShelley Kay

Don Coscarelli Jr. (born February 17, 1954) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter.[1] Born to Italian settlers in Libya, he is best known for his work in horror films. His directing credits include the first four films in the Phantasm franchise,[2] as well as The Beastmaster (1982) and Bubba Ho-Tep (2002).[3]


Coscarelli was born to Italian settlers 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 hometown of Los Alamitos, California , were winning prizes on television.

At the age of 19, Coscarelli became the youngest director to have a feature film distributed by a major studio when he sold his independently produced 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.[4] Jim the World's Greatest was an official selection of the USA Film Festival.

Coscarelli is best known for Phantasm, and its sequels. 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,[5] which was described by Entertainment Weekly as "a surefire audience favorite."[6] The Beastmaster has spawned two sequels[7][8] and a television series.[9]

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 prestigious international film festivals like 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, titled "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road"[10] 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.[11]

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


Coscarelli frequently collaborates with his wife, costume designer Shelley Kay.[12] His daughter is award-winning vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli.[13]



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. ^ Jason Buchanan (2012). "Don Coscarelli". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012.
  2. ^ Canby, Vincent (2007). "Phantasm". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 9, 2007.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (September 26, 2003). "Bubba Ho-Tep". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Collis, Clark (January 10, 2016). "Angus Scrimm dead: Phantasm star was 89". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 4, 2024.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (August 20, 1982). "The Beastmaster (1982) 'BEASTMASTER,' AN ADVENTURE-FANTASY". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Browne, David (September 10, 1993). "Why The Beastmaster?". Entertainment Weekly.
  7. ^ Paul Brenner (2016). "Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016.
  8. ^ Brian Gusse (2014). "Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 16, 2014.
  9. ^ "Beastmaster". Metacritic.
  10. ^ Stasio, Marilyn (October 28, 2005). "The Horror Tales You Haven't Seen". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Stewart, Andrew (February 2, 2013). "Happy 'End' for cult pic". Variety.
  12. ^ Fangoria Staff (January 3, 2013). "Don Coscarelli: "JOHN DIES AT THE END" was a family affair". Fangoria. Archived from the original on November 6, 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Coscarelli, Chloe. "5 Tricks for a Killer Vegan Halloween Party". VegNews. Retrieved June 14, 2019.

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