EvilQueenB’s Interview with Lee Gambin

Here is EvilQueenB’s interview with horror writer, Lee Gambin. Enjoy!!

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You’ve written for several horror publications, including Fangoria. How did you originally get into horror?

That’s a really tricky question because to be frank, I don’t know. Horror films were always a comfort for me and ever since I was a child, I gravitated to them – all kinds of horror films. What I do want to stress – and I stress this endlessly in interviews/doing lectures/panels etc – is that horror is a vast genre. There is not ONE kind of horror film. Horror is the most diverse in filmic landscapes. Much like its escapist genre relatives such as the western or the musical, horror is an incredibly broad genre and boasts the most subgenres that I can spiel out rather quickly – such as slasher, splatter, eco, hag, vampires, werewolves, body horror, monster movies, home invasion, evil children….I mean the list goes on. So possibly, the fact that horror movies are so varied is a major contributing factor to me loving them all so much. PS that is not to say that I blindly love all horror films either.

horror author, Lee Gambin

You’re no stranger to writing about the world of horror films, having authored Massacred by Mother Nature. What drew you to write a book about the making of Cujo?

Cujo is such a perfect film and part of its perfection comes from the fact that the film is deceptively simplistic on the surface, however, what I want people to understand is that there is so much going on. It is so beautifully rich in metaphor and remarkably intelligent and I wanted to champion this. I also think the stories behind the production were not really thoroughly explored ever – I mean there was a terrific three part documentary called Dog Days: The Making of Cujo, but (like everything else) I wanted the research to go further! So, with this book, I went all out and got as many people possible from the production to talk about the film.

Having been released in 1983 and now with a time span of over 30 years. What was the process like getting all the source material and interviews for the book?

Most of that lies in your research, how you map out the process, sourcing information and then also realising that Hollywood (especially back then) is incredibly interconnected. What I mean by that is that so many people that you have talked to in the past generally have a connection to someone else…for example, Barry Pearl who I interviewed from a book I wrote on 70s movie musicals about Grease is very good friends with Gary Morgan who was in Pete’s Dragon (another film I covered in the musicals book) and he was the guy in the St. Bernard suit! So there was this cool connective tissue that I revel in (being a fan of the romanticised notion of a “Hollywood community”) and made things smooth when it came to delving into research.

Was there anything that you came across in your research for the book, that changed your perception of the film?

Everything that the originally assigned director Peter Medak told me was amazing. Tony Richmond – his DOP – also had some incredible stuff that just added to it. I also was super impressed that people like Daniel Hugh Kelly did extensive interviews, and hearing him voice his concerns all the way through the production – mostly concerning his frustration at the change of the screenplay from Barbara Turner to Don Carlos Dunaway.

There were some great lines throughout Cujo. What made you choose “Nope, Nothing Wrong Here” as your title?

It’s a perfect summary of what the film says about one of its major themes which is domestic unrest. The idea that “everything seems fine” is actually not the case – wives can have affairs, husbands can be distracted by careers, little boys can imagine monsters in their closet etc.

Cujo will always be one of my personal favorite Stephen King adaptations, as well as horror film. Why do you think this film has endured for so long and has still remained a fan favorite?

Lee Gambin at a Q&A

I think a lot of that has to do with how brilliant Lewis Teague’s direction is, how superb Dee Wallace’s performance is, how great Charles Bernstein’s music is, the animal action being superlative and every other element. I mean look at Jan de Bont’s cinematography and that editing! Also, the story itself is universal – the idea that fear can manifest into something monstrous and unstoppable. I also like to think that it succeeds as one of King’s non-supernatural horror stories (along with Misery) which instantly makes it different.

Now that you have taken on Mother Nature and a rabid 200 pound dog. What other film books would you like to tackle next?

I will be announcing something soon. Stay tuned!

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Thanks, EvilQueenB for the great interview!! Is everyone looking forward to the Cujo remake? Sign off in the comments section below.

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