During B-D’s visit to the set of Don Coscarelli’s latest movie, an adaptation of cult favorite novel John Dies at the End written by David Wong (nee Jason Pargin), we caught up with the beloved creator of the Phantasm series to find out what’s happening with both the long-awaited fifth entry in that franchise as well as the long-rumored Bubba Ho-Tep sequel, Bubba Nosferatu. Hear what he had to say about the possibility that they’ll forward, as well as whether we might one day soon see those deadly silver spheres flying at us in 3-D!
First things first – will we be seeing a Phantasm 5 sometime in the near future? Coscarelli, while not giving a definitive answer, at least gave fans reason to hope.
“Listen, we’re all getting older but the desire is there“, he told me. “We’ve been cooking up a couple ideas, and I like to think that as soon as ['John Dies at the End' is] wrapped up we’ll try to get something going. Cause you know, over the years I’ve written a number of different iterations of `Phantasm’, and I’d just hate not to ever realize any of that. But it’s funny how this many years later people still care about it. That’s mind-boggling…I guess that’s the beauty and the curse of never actually giving any answers in four movies! [Laughs] [People] want to know what the hell happens. But yeah, I’d love to. I’m still really close friends with all of the actors from it. They’re great people, you know…we just love hanging out and working together. But I’ve gotta get going cause time is short.”
Of course in this day and age you can’t talk about a Phantasm sequel without at least considering the possibility of 3-D. Coscarelli seemed to be open to the idea, though he’s dubious on the format as a whole.
“Well yeah, I mean, spheres in 3-D would be really exciting“, he told me. “You know, I’m interested in it. Honestly, I have a hard time sitting through a whole feature with the glasses personally. I read about technologies that eliminate the glasses. I think when that happens, then it’ll be a lot more viable. A lot of people rave about some of the different processes. I think some of it’s the emperor’s new clothes. I watch them, it’s still a little gimmicky to me. So for the right movie…the thing is, I think that 3-D movies should be just all-out, comin’ at ya. Those were the ones that I grew up on…but it’s like nowadays, everyone’s getting really ‘artistic’ about it. And how can you get artistic with a gimmick? I don’t know, I haven’t really explored it too much myself. I haven’t spent much time with the camera. It definitely would be fun to try it.”
As far as Bubba Nosferatu is concerned, while Coscarelli would still love to do it funding has been hard to come by for the project.
“I had been working with [Paul Giamatti, who has a supporting role in 'John Dies at the End'] on the sequel to `Bubba Ho-Tep’ for a long time“, he said. “And we just had a really difficult challenge trying to get the film funded. A couple times we thought we did, and he’d been a big fan of `Bubba Ho-Tep’ and he got connected and…was very helpful in trying to get that film [made]. It would’ve been a wonderful film. It may still be a wonderful film, because [it's] just a great role that’s never really been explored on film, which is that of Elvis’ manager, Col. Parker [the character Giamatti would play]. We added a nice new dimension to the sequel.”
A sequel that, if it ever does get made, will not feature original star Bruce Campbell, who officially dropped out of the project several years ago. I asked Coscarelli what the reason was, but all he could do was shrug.
“You’d really have to ask him“, he said regretfully. “I don’t know. It’s a mystery still. At any rate, working with him on the first movie was a great…obviously he was terrific in that role.” Nevertheless… “I love it, and I’d love to make it some day. But it was difficult to make independent movies prior to this whole financial and distribution contraction that’s gone on, and now it’s practically impossible. So we’ll see, but it’s still there.“