The photography in Phantasm is quite striking. You say that this is a necessity of the low budget. Your mother did costume design and make-up. It's part of the same necessity, I presume.
If you've ever seen the Mickey Rooney Andy Hardy movies - "Let's put on a show!" That's what it was. Looking back on Phantasm, we're really lucky that certain elements on it came together in terms of the effects and some of the production design. There's nothing like having someone who has a sense of style and design to paint and build the sets for you.
Bruce Campbell and Company in Bubba Ho-tep
It seems like in the Phantasm films, and in your most recent, Bubba Ho-Tep, you seem to be attracted to the reluctant hero. Is that inaccurate to say?
No, in my mind the core essence of a hero is someone forced into action by circumstances and loyalty. That, to me, is the nature of heroism. I tend to be more impressed by people that can rise exponentially to the occasion when things get tough. It's hard to take that philosophy and apply it to Elvis [laughs].
I think of the music in Phantasm as one spectacular component of the film. Was it Fred Myrow or Malcolm Seagrave that came up with the main theme?
Hard to know. Fred's no longer with us, so I don't know if I'll ever really know that. I do remember that the two of them were very excited when they had the theme. They had me over to Fred's house and Fred sat down and played it. Immediately, Malcolm jumped in next to him and they did the B-side part of the theme. I don't know where it came from, honestly. It was wonderful. One of the great turning points of any movie, if it's going to achieve any level of greatness, is the score. It's terrifying, because I know the impact and the value of having a theme that unites everything. You need the glue that holds it together. Usually, you've already paid the composer and you go into the session and he or she plays that theme and, if it's not right, "What happened?" It's kind of a terrifying moment for a filmmaker.
The fourth film opens almost in a "last week on Phantasm" vein. I've read somewhere about a fifth installment, presumably the last?
The fifth film that's in the IMDb isn't correct. After Roger Avary received the Oscar? for co-writing Pulp Fiction with Quentin, he had this crazy idea in his mind that he would write the epic be-all-end-all Phantasm sequel. It's a really wonderful script, but it's epic and ultra-violent and expensive. For years, we've been trying to get it funded and it just never came together. But, with the renewed interest in these remakes of movies, there's a lot of interest around Phantasm. I've been taking some meetings. Angus and Reggie are still in great shape a raring to go. I hope that we can pull one more movie out of the hat.
I noticed Roger is thanked in the end credits of Phantasm IV. Coincidentally enough, we both appear in the end credits of another movie - Porn Star.
How do you know Scott [Gill, the director of Porn Star]?
In my earlier life, I licensed some footage from a cartoon featuring Ron Jeremy to Scott. How was he to work with as editor on Oblivion and Bubba Ho-Tep?
He's a great, great guy.
He had plenty of swell things to say about you, too.
He was also an associate editor of Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead. He's a really talented filmmaker. I personally thought that Porn Star was one of the funniest movies that I saw that year.
Indeed, it's great.
When I did Bubba Ho-Tep, Scott wasn't available all of the time and the other editor [Donald Milne] wasn't available all of the time. I did some of the editing myself, although those guys get credit and certainly deserve it. A lot of directors these days like to edit their own films. I really like bringing it around to Scott. I think that it's really wonderful to have somebody like that that you can sit down with and sort of reassess everything. It gives you a sounding board and a collaborator at a time when you really need it. I would love to make more movies with Scott but he's pursuing the directing thing now so he's not available anymore.
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