Filmmaker Don Coscarelli on Elvis, Bigfoot, and 'John Dies at the End'
Robert Kurtzman, who is one of the guys from K.N.B. EFX Group, had also done the Bubba Ho-Tep monster. He did an illustration where we could do it as a man in a suit, so we did it that way — and the suit is a total work of art. When it was finished, we added some highlights with CG, where we animated the little trout that runs up the back of the meat monster as he's coming together. I think that added a level of bizarreness to it that took the edge off it just being only rubber.
SFBG John Dies has a lot going on: gore, surreal humor, buddy comedy elements, and even some film noir flair. How did you get the tone just right?
DC It's all a function of the editing process. Going into it I had a lot of ideas about what the tone would be, but when you're filming it's hard to really keep track of that. With this screenplay, there was always the opportunity for it to go off the rails. It takes so many liberties and it's so out there.
Luckily I had enough time where I was able to bracket the performances. I could do a subtle one, I could do a moderate one, and I could do an over-the-top one. Editing's really like writing with visuals — you can watch the previous scene and watch the succeeding scene and then tailor it so that you've got some sort of tone and flow. But it always was a challenge.
SFBG Any chance you'll ever make that Bubba Ho-Tep sequel?
DC Elvis is eternal. He will outlive all of us! It's something I would like to do. It felt like it was gonna happen, about three or four years ago, and then it just fell apart. But I still would love to do it one day, and I've got a lot of great ideas.
One of the best things about Bubba was that we had a load of fun thinking up sequels. You can just take Bubba and put a monster after it, and you'd have a sequel. You're talking about weird ones like Bubba Blob, and of course there was always Bubba Sasquatch, which would have been great. Because, you know, Elvis in the woods fighting a tribe of Bigfoot ... now that would be cool!
JOHN DIES AT THE END opens Fri/8 in Bay Area theaters.