The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on March 28, 1979 · 92
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 92

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Wednesday, March 28, 1979
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1 2 Part IV-wxi, uu. 28, w Zos AnjeUa Cimea COSCARELU Continued from First Page tares already to his credit 25 years old. "My first movie ('JIM, the World's Greatest') was a drama," he said. "My second ('Kenny and Company') was a comedy, so I just figured the next one should be horror and suspense." Cose are lii directed, wrote, edited and photographed the picture. It opens here today. The word "Phantasm," incidentally, means, according to the dictionary, "ghost, specter; figment of the imagination; a mental representation of a real object; a deceptive or illusory appearance of a thing." And "Phantasm," the movie, contains plenty figments of Coscarelli's imagination. To write it, he rented a cabin in Big Bear and didn't come out for a month. "I was completely cut off, alone with my fantasies," he said. "The longer I stayed there, the more bizarre the story became. I kept thinking up these things." The severed finger idea came when he playfully poked his thumb through the bottom of a styrofoam cup. There was also inspiration from some memorable movies of his youth most notably "Invaders From Mars," "Gold-finger" ("for all the gadgets") and the Alfred Hitchcock roster and a favorite TV show, "Chiller." "There's no book on how to make a horror film," he said, "except to go out and see the good ones." Coscarelli and a friend made "JIM, the World's Greatest" when they were 18 years old. It focused on a high school world they knew intimately. Universal later bought the movie and released it in 1976. One critic noted that it had "pathos and tempo, warmth and a lot of sly, wry humor." "Kenny and Company" followed and was, in turn, picked up by 20th Century-Fox. It, however, played only briefly in the United States, "on the bottom half of double bills in the hinterlands," said Coscarelli. The film traced the youthful adventures of two boys growing up in the suburban section of a city not unlike Long Beach. "It was my life story," said Coscarelli. "I really miss my childhood. It was like Tom Sawyer." A knack for film-making came to him early. First there was photography, but by the time he entered Long Beach Wilson High School, Coscarelli was handing in films in place of term papers. "It was a natural progression from photography to movies," he said, "and, at 17, making 'JIM' became an obsession." Coscarelli's father, an investment counselor, was taken with his son's talent and commitment. He raised the mon- 'PHANTASM' Continued from First Page The special effects (by Paul Pepperman) also include a severed finger with a lurid life of its own. The suspense, all the way to a smashing and quite unexpected finish, is very craftily engineered and sustained. The horror genre is not to everyone's taste, but this youthful picture, addressed to an audience of its own con- 'PHANTASM' An Avco Embassy Release. Producers O. A. Coscarelli, Paul Peppermar. Written and directed by Don Coscarelli. Production design S. Tyer. Art direction David Gavin Brown. Photography, editing Don Coscarelli. Special eftecls Paul Pepperman. Music Fred Myrow, Malcolm Seagrave. Featuring Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrlmm, Kathy Lester, Terrle Kalbus, Ken Jones, Susan Harper, Lynn Eastman, David Arntzen, Ralph Richmond, Bill Cone, Laura Mann, Mary Ellen Shaw, Myrtle Scotton. R unning time: I hr. 30 mln. MPAA-rated: Restricted (those under 17 must be accompanied by parent or adult guardian). temporaries, seems likely to delight those who cherish the taste of fear and can't wait to be shown dread secrets. Scrimm is a looming and sepulchral villain in the grand and devilish tradition. The nice naturalistic playing by Baldwin and Thornbury is just right as the basis from which to encounter the ghoulish goings-on in the cemetery and beyond. Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave did the appropriately agitated music, blended as it is with the mod sounds of what ought to be the brothers' ordinary lives. Coscarelli wrote and directed, photographed and edited. The special effects are by coproducer Paul Pepperman. It is a family project. Coscarelli's father was the other producer and the production design credit to S. Tyer, I think, conceals Mrs. Coscarelli. "Phantasm" is, as it set out to be, a scream. A loud scream. ey for all three of the films. His mother, meanwhile, served in a number of capacities on "JIM" and as an actress in "Kenny": "They had no experience. I just 'draped them into it." Creative differences did, however, come up on one occasion. "I gave my mother the part in 'Kenny,' " he said, "and after that she retired. She didn't like the way I photographed her." On "JIM," Coscarelli said. "It's the picture on which I learned how to direct, how to write a screenplay." On "Kenny," he said, "I'm real!y proud of it We shot it while waiting for 'JIM' to come out. It became a big hit in Japan. They cherish children and childhood there." On "Phantasm": "I was tired of people telling me my films were unsalable. I wanted to make something commercial." Not only is the picture apparently commercial but in January it took the special jury award at the Fantastic Film Festival in Avoriaz, France. The competition included the highly regarded "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "Halloween." Coscarelli has not been particularly pleased with the treatment his films have received from studios. "They let them die," he said. "It's a tragedy what happened to 'Kenny.'" Universal, meanwhile, has placed "JIM, the World's Greatest" in the vault. "The picture's been taken out of service," said a studio spokesman. "That means it's no longer distributed." Coscarelli did receive offers to do "Phantasm' with studio backing. "We had the money to make it independent ly," he said. "I wanted to keep control." Avco Embassy picked up the distribution. The star of "Phantasm" (and a costar of "Kenny and Company") is 15-year-old Michael Baldwin. "I've been lucky to work with him," said Coscarelli. "He's just a kid Please Turn to Page 13, Col. 4 CHNLSl OJtSff LUNCH DNsEK . 2201 Wkhire Boulevard JawUMoniu 828-56 tti warn Wo BroM Onh with RmI Wood CHatcooI FCR LUNCH tW CINHIK NATURAL WOOD MOCfH LltrvM 4333 Candiewood iiwtsW 919 S. Central Ave. Tamtt 5545 Reseda Blvd. Strike Cttf 12743 Ventura Blvd 0tMM SOON ToTtnct Hnlhom SI BrvitWOOO WHMl 4 BfTlHfllOB PtAoram Ctty-VM Nwyt IL hmrn MM Eut AmImm EucU 9L MtutM Ymp-H Tan M. LOSE H2 tr iajjjagtagjltf' gggpjmpjj i i 1 1 a a j i e 1 1 a ju V A. f IV II I I j Kill aW I If M V "V 11 without going hungry nncrp in! LL Blu Clinically lasted. ..Proven Safe and Effective for Fast Weight Loss. 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