Bubba Ho-Tep, which he found too slow and obvious, he has a great fondness for the filmmaker's earlier work like Phantasm and The Beastmaster -- both enjoyably old-fashioned in the extreme (though Phantasm probably seemed sort of new-ish at the time of its release). John Dies at the End (henceforth to be known as JDATE), however, is about as new-fangled as they come, and he can't tell you how much he admires the ability of Coscarelli, shown at right, to give us a film that keeps up with all this so very well. The effect is bracing indeed, so much so that you may feel, while watching, that if you stop to take a breath you'll miss something. You won't be alone.
Chase Williamson, above) and the titular, sexier and dumber John (Rob Mayes, below) -- who get involved with this drug; time travel; other worlds; and a fellow named Arnie Blondestone (played by the amazing and wonderful Mr. Giamatti (two photos below), in what may very well be his weirdest role in a career of them); and a lot more. Or maybe a lot less. Don't hold me to it. See the movie and figure it out yourself.
How involved with Wong with writing the screenplay? "I pretty much did that myself. I would have loved to work with him," Coscarelli (shown below) explained, "but Wong had gotten another job and didn't have that much free time." The director and adaptor had a plan of how the book might be shorn down from 350 to 100 pages. When he approached Wong with his ideas, the novel writer, it turned out, had quite similar ones.
Has Mr Wong seen the finished film? Yes and he liked it a lot, for, as Giamatti points out, "The movie skillfully condenses the book, while keeping its tone quite well."
At one point, the actor was asked about all his upcoming films, which he then took the time to describe to us in some detail. (You can peruse the list of them by clicking here, then scrolling down. This guy works a lot.)
What's its like to see yourself on film? one person asked of the actor. "It's all right. You get used to it. I can watch myself now pretty easily."
Regarding how unusually fast the movie moves, "It might help if you have seen tons of other horror movies already," TrustMovies offered. "What amazes me is how well it works. And even though it gets beyond complicated, you can still follow it somehow."
"This is a genre that invites so much weirdness," explained Coscarelli, "so that a lot of interesting and good stuff can pop out of it." The director remarked that Hollywood and movie funding seems to run in cycles. He recalled trying to pitch a zombie project in the mid-90s. "Nobody would even look at it. A Zombie movie? Forget it! But Hollywod is like that. Something new comes along, like J-horror, and then after a few years, it's imitated way too much. But some brilliant filmmaker is out there right now, doing something new and great. Horror fans are such optimists: Once they've experience a really great scare in a horror movie, it stays with them."
The question, What's your favorite horror movies? drew interesting responses: Giamatti goes for the old Val Lewton films, and mentions in particular The Seventh Victim. "I really love them cause they are so very weird and were made for practically nothing. Lewton made six or seven and they are all great." Coscarelli: loves the old Univeral horror films from the 30s and 40s, and then Invaders from Mars and Godzilla from the 50s. "The 70 brought us Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Suspiria. And now Cabin in the Woods -- which is so good it can't have a sequel!"
What is the soy sauce? one blogger wanted to know. "I always thought it was almost something sentient -- like a third character! Hmmmm. Now, that's interesting.
Has Giamatti ever done a horror movie before? "I can't remember any," TrustMovies told the actor. "Hmmm. Well, maybe something close to sci fi, but no, never a real horror movie. And that was one reason I was so intereted in doing this film. It gave me the chance to do some things I'd never done before."
I'll say. One of the treats of film is to seeing the actor do exactly that.