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The summer’s two best genre film books both come from the
prolific pen of genre historian and veteran FANGORIA contributor Tom Weaver. In
the following interview, the good-natured author of 22 (!) books discusses his
latest photo-filled tomes, SCRIPTS FROM THE CRYPT: THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON and
THE HORROR HITS OF RICHARD GORDON, both available from BearManor Media.
FANGORIA: How did your latest two books come together?
TOM WEAVER: The HIDEOUS SUN DEMON book came about very simply: I
used to really enjoy the MagicImage Filmscripts series of the 1980s and 1990s,
each of which contained a script from a Golden Age Universal horror movie and a
long “Making of” chapter by Greg Mank and rare stills and the press book, etc.,
etc. In fact, I liked ’em so much, I eventually did one, a MagicImage book on
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, in the mid-1990s. I missed those books, and one
day when I realized how many scripts for 1950s horror/sci-fi movies I had in my
files, I thought that it would be a lot of fun, and not all that much work, to
start a similar series of my own. I came up with the series title SCRIPTS FROM
THE CRYPT, which I thought was quite clever until a few months later when I
Googled it and found that dozens of people had beaten me to it. Anyway, I
decided to make SUN DEMON the first book in that series because I had two very
different scripts for that movie, both rare, and a lot of behind-the-scenes
photos. But the fun really came into it when I decided to interview maybe one
or two more SUN DEMON veterans—but everyone I talked to not only had a lot to
say, but also gave me the phone number of yet another SUN DEMON veteran and
urged me to call that person. So this project that I thought wouldn’t be much
work turned out to be a lot of work! The next book in the series will be a
“double-feature,” scripts and “Making of” chapters for BRIDE OF THE GORILLA
 and INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN , both with Lon Chaney Jr. If BearManor
will let me get away with it, I want it advertised as a Lon Chaney Jr. “Make
Mine a Double!” Two-Pack.
And the Richard Gordon book came about because I’ve sat at
his table at a number of conventions, and I’ve heard him asked 50 times, “When
are you writing a book about your career?” And the answer always comes back,
“Never!” I thought that was too bad, because he is the only living producer to
have worked with Karloff and Lugosi and a lot of other interesting people in
the horror genre; once he made his first horror movie in 1957, he never made
anything but horror/sci-fi movies for the entire rest of his producing career,
which went right up into the 1980s. So one day over lunch at a little diner in
Manhattan near his office, I said to him, “Don’t say ‘no’ before I finish
talking: You’ve been asked over and over to write a book about your career, and
you’ll never do it. But would you have any objection to me pulling out all the
interviews I’ve done with you over the years, and doing several new ones with
you and putting it all together into a book called THE HORROR HITS OF RICHARD
GORDON?” There was a pause, and then to my shock and awe, he said, almost in a
little kid’s delighted voice, “…That’d be great…!” And away we went on that.
FANG: Is longtime publisher McFarland jealous that you are
taking another girl to the dance?
WEAVER: I’m completely dedicated to McFarland, who gave me
my first opportunities book-wise and are all super-nice people, and who
couldn’t treat me better if I was William Shakespeare come back to life to
write just for them. You’ll take my McFarland Rolodex card out of my cold dead
hand. But for both SUN DEMON and RICHARD GORDON, I really felt that both had to
be very affordably priced in order to “work.” The SUN DEMON book is almost 400
pages, and it’s like 8 by 11 inches—and I didn’t know if fans would want to
spend much more than about 20 bucks for a book like that, since that’s what
softcover script books from other publishers usually cost. And as for the
RICHARD GORDON, half the reason he said yes was because he was looking forward
to going to cons where the book would be on sale and doing signings, etc. The
economy being what it is, I didn’t think he’d be doing much signing if it was a
$50 or $60 book, the economy being what it is, and average Monster Kids not
being the wealthiest folks on Earth. In order for him to have his signing fun
at conventions, that had to be a $20 book also.
FANG: What was it about HIDEOUS SUN DEMON that struck your
fancy? Guilty pleasure or underappreciated gem?
WEAVER: Mostly the former but maybe also just a wee bit of the latter. And
also, doing the best job I could on a SUN DEMON book is my belated “thank you”
to the late Robert Clarke [pictured above], the star of the picture—who also co-wrote and
co-produced and co-directed it. No old-timer that I ever interviewed was ever
nicer to me, over a longer period of time, than he was. And he was pretty proud
of the movie, so I thought it’d bring a smile to his face, up on one of those
Soundstages in the Sky where he’s now working, to know that a book like that
had been published.
FANG: In his later years, did Clarke accept HIDEOUS SUN
DEMON being the movie he’d be best remembered for?
WEAVER: He never quite figured out why he didn’t go a bit
farther than he did in Hollywood. He got off to a good start, and he could act
and he was a good-looking guy; but after a while, all he got movie-wise were small parts in big pictures—sometimes he’s not much more than an extra—and
starring parts in B-movies, many of ’em…kinda lousy. But SUN DEMON, and also
THE MAN FROM PLANET X , made him a hit when he went to autograph shows,
and he knew it, and he loved it, and was endlessly happy that he’d been in
FANG: Does Richard Gordon get the credit he deserves from
the fan community for his works?
WEAVER: In recent years, yes, there have been interviews with him in all the
various monster mags, and he’s been a hit at a lot of the monster movie
conventions, starting I guess with FANEX in Baltimore, and also the Manchester
Festival of Fantastic Films in England and Monster Bash in Pennsylvania. At
those two, he became a regular, almost a mascot. The fans really enjoy talking
to him at those shows, and he really appreciates that. Just so you know exactly
what he thinks of the fans: He and I were walking down the street in New York
once, and he mentioned that the Cannes Film Festival was coming up—he went to skeighty-eight
Cannes festivals over the years. Anyway, he mentioned that the latest one was
about to start, but that he hadn’t been to one in a while and in fact was
probably never going to go again. I asked, “Do you miss it?,” and he paused,
and he thought, and he said, “You know…at this point in my life, I think I’d
rather go to Monster Bash!” So, yeah, the fans really like him, and he really
TO BE CONTINUED
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