Gregory Lamberson is an award-winning novelist (the Jake Helman series, Johnny Gruesome, Cheap Scares!) and an independent writer/director/producer (Slime City, Slime City Massacre, the forthcoming Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast) who lives in upstate New York.
When was the first time you watched a horror film, and how did it affect you?
In first grade, my mother woke me late at night – on a school night! – to watch King Kong. I was familiar with the character because I had the model kit. I came in when Kong was battling the pterodactyl outside his cave, and Bruce Cabot squirreled away Fay Wray. The shot of them running through the jungle, facing the camera, is etched on my brain. Kong remains one of my favourite films, and nothing matched its impact on me until Star Wars. Now, if that’s too fantastical for you, substitute The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Village of the Damned, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, or Trog. I watched them all late at night, and still think they’re all great. A good number of British films!
Monsters. On Saturday morning cartoons, many of the heroes battled monsters. And then I collected those Aurora monster model kits, then saw the movies that inspired them. I was a child of TV, and a huge fan of Dan Curtis’ TV movies; The Night Stalker and the Zuni fetish doll segment of Trilogy of Terror define 70s horror for me.
What achievement are you most proud of?
You want me to make Sophie’s Choice? Of my films, it’s Slime City Massacre, and for my novels it’s my occult detective series The Jake Helman Files. Do you see what I just did there?
What are you working on now?
I’m writing a crazy e-book involving cutting edge technology called The Julian Year, which Medallion Press will release sometime in 2013. Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast, which I co-produced, will be released on DVD in the winter. I’m producing another movie in July which I can’t discuss yet, and I’m developing a new film with some writer colleagues – they’ll co-write and I’ll direct. And I just signed the contract for Jake Helman #5.
George Romero and Jack Arnold were huge inspirations to me. I certainly learned a lot working with Frank Henenlotter. I have a lot of respect for Debbie Rochon, and Jeff Strand, Michael Calvillo, and Lisa Manetti are three of my favorite authors.
Do you prefer gore or psychological horror?
It depends on the story – anything goes. I like my films to be fun, so I employ a lot of over-the-top effects – not really gore – and in my novels I like a lot of action and surprises.
How important is it to unsettle a viewer?
It’s a great feeling – so is making them laugh. And uncomfortable laughter is the best. I’m really happy with the scene in SCM when Debbie has melted into a bathtub full of orange slime, and Lee Perkins drags his finger through her, and she moans sexually. The audience is totally unprepared for their reaction, which I love.
How do you evoke fear?
I’ve never made a scary movie; I’ve never really tried, I’ve had a different agenda for my films. But it’s on my bucket list – the film I’m developing with the two writers. I’ll get back to ya on that one.
What scares you?
Not entertainment, I had a pretty crazy period in NYC – I was robbed by a guy with an AK-47, a guy pulled a meat cleaver on me, I beat down a guy who fired a .32 at me – great times – and I think I was pretty fearless. Now I have a wife and a daughter, and I just turned 48, so I have plenty of fears.
To have a good time – especially Slime City and Slime City Massacre.
How far is too far in horror cinema?
I’m not a fan of rape or child abuse used in entertainment, but again, anything goes. The film I’m producing in July features an act so over-the-top… I would never have written that, and would probably never direct it. But I’m looking forward to shooting it, and can’t wait to see the audience reaction.
How do you think horror cinema will evolve in the next ten years?
I don’t know how it’s evolved in the last ten years! I’ve never seen a Saw film, or Hostel, or Paranormal Activity. None of them interest me. I’m a home body, and my daughter’s only six.
Recommend a film.
The Best Horror Feature winner at Buffalo Scream last year was Absentia, which is amazing. It’s available on DVD now. And the Best Grindhouse Award went to The Super, which isn’t available yet. You see what I did there?
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