Phantasm, made when Coscarelli was 25, was done on a small budget with a cast and crew of amateurs. That can be exciting -- everyone's young and feels like they can accomplish anything, and there's no stuffy executives telling them that it's a bad idea to, say, have the hero appear to get murdered by zombie dwarves in the final shot. But there's a downside.
"At that age, we were so enthusiastic and so totally ignorant about safety. And thank God nobody died. We had a massive wind machine, basically an airplane engine on a stand. And we needed a windstorm outside the mausoleum at the end of the movie. It was kind of a cold night, so somebody had run out and bought these cheap mufflers, and given everyone a muffler to wear ... "
We're going to pause the story right there so you can visualize the giant fan ...
Note the convenient head-sized hole in the cage!
... and imagine people standing near it wearing really long scarves around their necks. If you have ever seen a slapstick comedy or cartoon, you can guess where this is going. "I turned to David Brown, he was the art director. I signaled him to go turn the fan off, and he ran over to it, and the freaking wind machine grabbed his muffler and yanked him. Luckily it was a cheap muffler, and it snapped and threw him back. If it had been, like, a Burberry muffler, he would have just been killed. I probably shouldn't talk about it, but it's decades later and Dave's still alive, healthy, and thriving, so I can tell the story, but man, that was horrible."