Mon. Mar 4th, 2024

Manny Coto, whose credits include Dr. Giggles, American Horror Stories, and Star Trek: Enterprise, has passed away at age 62

We have some sad news to share today, as The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that writer/director Manny Coto – who is best known for directing the 1992 horror comedy slasher Dr. Giggles (watch it HERE) – has passed away at the age of 62, following a thirteen month battle with pancreatic cancer.

Manuel Hector Coto was born in Havana, Cuba on June 10, 1961, then his family emigrated to the U.S. just a few months later. Coto and his siblings were raised in Orlando, Florida, and he was still a child when a fascination with Star Trek inspired him to start shooting short films with his father’s 8mm camera. After attending college in New Orleans, he moved out to Los Angeles in 1983 and started working in commercials. He eventually crossed paths with Tippi Hedren, who worked with Alfred Hitchcock on The Birds and Marnie, and was able to get her to agree to star in a short film he made called Twist. Soon after, the quality of his horror short Jack in the Box earned him the chance to write an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents anthology series – and the episode he wrote was based on his short film Twist.

In 1990, Coto teamed up with future L.A. Confidential Oscar winner Brian Helgeland (who had previously contributed to A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master) to write a spec script called The Ticking Man, about “a bomb squad officer in pursuit of a cyborg equipped with a nuclear weapon”. That became the first screenplay to sell for at least $1 million, even though it never made it into production.

From there, Coto wrote episodes of the TV shows Tales from the Cryptkeeper and Dead at 21, wrote and directed an episode of Tales from the Crypt, directed an episode of Monsters, and got into directing features. After making the 1990 horror film Playroom and the 1991 Dolph Lundgren action movie Cover-Up, he was hired to direct Dr. Giggles, where he rewrote the original screenplay by Graeme Whifler so extensively that Whifler was able to take the original script and get another movie out of it. (The original Dr. Giggles script became the 2005 film Deadly End, a.k.a. Neighborhood Watch). He was a co-executive producer on the ’90s version of The Outer Limits, and created the shows Odyssey 5, 24: Legacy, and Next.

Coto was able to put his passion for Star Trek to great use when he got the chance to work on the last two seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise, becoming showrunner on the fourth and final season. He has also been an executive producer on 24, 24: Redemption, 24: Live Another Day, 24: Legacy, Dexter, American Horror Story, and American Horror Stories. He wrote episodes of all the TV shows mentioned there, and also wrote an episode of The Exorcist.

His other directing credits include the family friendly movies Star Kid, The Other Me, and Zenon: The Zequel, as well as an episode of American Horror Stories.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that his hobbies included putting together model trains, collecting full runs of Doc Savage and The Shadow, and cultivating a backyard vineyard that yields 200 bottles of a zinfandel/petite sirah a year. Coto wrote on the label that the wine was “Nurtured in the California sunshine, and with the laughter of our four children … this is a humble wine rich in fruit and character for you to enjoy at every occasion in need of a special surprise.”

Coto is survived by his mother Norma, his brother and his sister, eight nieces and nephews, his wife – visual effects supervisor Robin Trickett, whom he met on Odyssey 5 – and their children Manny, Riley, Charlotte, and Finley. Our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends, and fans.

By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.