I was a fan of Don Coscarelli before I even knew who he was.
How can that be? Am I some sort of meta-hipster? Allow me to explain.
Growing up a child of the 80’s, and having access to a cable movie channel known as First Choice, I saw a movie that stuck with me for years to come, The Beastmaster.
Being a Small-Town Dungeons and Dragons Nerd, thanks to being introduced to the tabletop game by a life-long friend, I immersed myself in the realms of fantasy both in book form with series such as DragonLance and Forgotten Realms, as well as films like Conan the Barbarian and Dragonslayer.
So, when I was flipping through channels one day and came across The Beastmaster, a sword and sandal tale of a warrior named Dar who had a panther, an eagle and two ferrets as companions I knew I had to check it out. Already being a huge Conan fan, The Beastmaster wasn’t as epic or as violent as the John Milius film, and while it wasn’t as delightfully awful as MST3K favorite Cave Dwellers, it was still a fun and exciting film, especially for 8-year-old me.
I’m also a tremendous horror movie fan and while I’ve always loved the Jason’s and the Freddy’s, the Michael Myers and the Pinheads of the horror world, it was in the latter part of the 2000’s that I discovered a series of films that had long flown under my radar in Phantasm with the sinister Tall Man at the helm.
As my fandom for the Phantasm films grew, I quickly became aware as to just who Don Coscarelli was. So, when I saw him announce on Twitter in 2018 that he was releasing an autobiography about his life as an independent filmmaker called True Indie, I couldn’t wait to get a copy of my own and dive into its pages to learn more about the man behind some of my, and possibly your favorite indie films.
Coscarelli’s telling of his life story in True Indie is good however to be honest I also found it to be a little dry from time to time, but that didn’t deter me from continuing to turn the pages to investigate the mind of an indie filmmaker from Long Beach, California from the seventies up to present day.
If you’ve ever watched interviews with Don Coscarelli he’s very at ease, unassuming and gives the air of a warm and genuine man who, quite frankly, loves what he does and loves being able to share his passions and visions with those as like-minded as he is and there are some fun stories within the book involving a trip to Japan with the pre-teen stars of one of his early indie films Kenny & Company, to a tale of Marc “Beastmaster” Singer being rather…eccentric if you want to be polite on the set of their film, to directing the music video for Ronnie James Dio’s The Last in Line to the behind the scenes of working with the great Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis in making Bubba Ho-Tep, along with the horror stories of having to butt heads from time to time with the old guard of Hollywood.
But, what’s an autobiography from an acclaimed horror director without a few horror stories?
If there’s a common thread throughout True Indie it’s that not only should you have convictions, but you should always stick to your convictions every step of the way. From the time he was a teenager making Super 8 films with his friends in Southern California to later bringing the Tall Man, Reggie, Jody, Mike and those silver spheres into the horror pantheon and inspiring the likes of Rob Zombie and JJ Abrams to follow in his footsteps, Don Coscarelli has always lived by a philosophy that PopLurker holds dear, and that’s never be afraid to jump. While it may be terrifying to go out on a limb, take a chance and get knocked down a few pegs, the real horror is to never take the risk at all and always ask ourselves, “what if?”.
While Don Coscarelli may be one of the masters of horror, True Indie serves as a reminder that life is too short to live in fear.
I give True Indie 4 out of 5 silver spheres.
You can find Jonathan on Twitter.