Greg Lamberson

Greetings my Children… welcome to the world of Author/ Director Greg Lamberson. It was at 2010’s Festival of Fear that I first took notice of Lamberson when He was included on a panel with our very own slightly intoxicated magGot. I certainly took notice of Greg at that point, but it wasn’t until the 2011 FOF that I really got into his novels. His detective Jake Helman instantly won me over and at this point is leaving me eagerly wanting more. Thus I was able to make my way to Slime City (Via my Jesus patented teleportation devise) and tracked down the artist responsible for said stories. My Children may I introduce… Greg Lamberson…

You took quite a break from making films and focused more on your books. What was the reason for this switch?

It costs money to make movies and it doesn’t cost money to write books.  Also, I could never make a living making low budget horror films, and I’m finding I can survive writing novels. I don’t want to tell stories set in one apartment just because that’s all I can afford; I want to tell big, action packed stories with a lot of characters, violence, gore, and nudity. And monsters.  I want the freedom to create the wildest monsters I can imagine, not just those I can afford. I’ve written eight books since 2004, versus four features since 1986.

What got you back into films?

Once the filmmaking bug infects you, it never really goes away.  For me, my three early features – SLIME CITY, UNDYING LOVE, and NAKED FEAR – were the equivalent of film school.  I knew I could use everything I’ve learned to make something decent, maybe even good.  The result was SLIME CITY MASSACRE, which is the first film I’ve made that I’m happy with.

What are some of the challenges/ differences of writing a screenplay as opposed to writing a novel?

For me, there are very few challenges in writing a screenplay, unless I’m writing one for someone else and I have to convince them that my way is the right way.  I’ve written four scripts for other people, quick jobs when I needed cash to pay my mortgage.  Each one took me about three weeks, and that was while being a full time, stay at home parent.  Movie pacing comes naturally to me, so I can whip them out pretty quickly, and I have yet to say, “Boy, does this suck!”  I also have a very improvisational style which allows me to create story points as I go along.  If I had a hook up in the TV industry I could probably make a fortune.  But at what cost, Jesus?  At what cost?

Slime City is now considered by many to be a cult classic. What brought about doing a sequel with Slime City Massacre?

I had 20 years to read and re-read the reviews for the first film, and I thought, “I’ll show them!”  WI started thinking about a sequel when I did 20th anniversary screenings of SLIME CITY at film festivals and horror cons in 2008.  The ideas came fast, even though I didn’t want them to, and I knew that if I wrote the script I would have to make the movie.  And I wrote the script…

Is there a chance of making it a trilogy?

It’s inevitable, isn’t it?  I have to make a third one so I can bullshit like every other franchise filmmaker: “I always intended it to be a trilogy!” and then I can come up with some lame excuse if I do a fourth one.  I’m pretty confident there will be a third one, I know what the story is and I’ve started the script, and it will be even more outlandish than the second one.  I have no idea when I’m going to make it; I have several books to write before then, and eve another movie I want to make, and the economy is in the toilet.  It’s not like this is a big franchise like FRIDAY THE 13TH or A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, where fans said, “We need our Jason and Freddy fix every year!”  SCM needs time to find an audience, just like SLIME CITY did.  I won’t wait 20 years this time, though.

Jake Helman (‘Personal Demons’, ‘Desperate Souls’, and ‘Cosmic Forces’) has become one of my new favorite characters. What was the inspiration behind him?

My first three novels – Personal Demons, Johnny Gruesome, and The Frenzy Way – were all based on unproduced screenplays of mine.  I wrote the Johnny Gruesome script around the same time I wrote Slime City, so it has similar sensibilities.  Personal Demons was my attempt to write a much bigger budgeted story, for the adult horror fans in the room.  I love crime dramas and harboiled noir as much as I do horror, and I wanted to mix all of those elements together. I also wanted to create a hero who would piss his pants in terror from time to time and really get his ass kicked.  I really punish Jake, which forces the reader to sympathize with him.  After three books, people say, “Oh, my God, what are you going to do to him this time?”

What made you decide to treat him as more than a one off character?

When I wrote the script, I plotted out a trilogy.  If the films had been made, I really could have said, “I always envisioned it as a trilogy!”  When I started writing the novels, I figured I would write 6 – 10 books.  Right now, I think it will be two different series of 6 novels, so 12 in total.  Jake Helman is my favorite character to write, I think he’s a real badass, so I’ll keep putting him through hell for as long as Medallion Press wants to publish his adventures.

Where did your fascination with fantasy/ horror elements come in to play?

Dunkirk, New York, where I lived alone with my mother, who bought me comic books when we walked home from our single screen theater.  In those comics were ads for the Aurora monster model kits, which led to me collecting the models and then seeing the movies that inspired them.  I’ve loved monsters as long as I can remember, and I’m excited in that Cosmic Forces, I’ve created one that I know is really cool, my take on Cthulhu, although with a completely different and surprising origin.

When did you begin writing?

Like all kids, I told stories at a very early age.  I cut out those Aurora monster model ads and moved them around our black and white TV screen.  My mother was an English teacher and an artists, so she encouraged all of my interests, even when I had teachers who tried to beat them down.

What came first, wanting to write novels or to make films?

I don’t really vie them as separate interests.  I always knew I wanted to be a story teller, and the method of storytelling went through different permutations: “I want to be a comic book artist, I want to be a stop motion animator…”  I knew I wanted to make films when STAR WARS came out, but I wanted to write books, too.

The internet seems like a double edged sword for independent film makers. Your thoughts?

The internet is a great place for people to give their films away for free, or for people to pirate films and download them illegally.  It’s also a great place for people to act like assholes, especially indie horror filmmakers who are more concerned with stirring up trouble than making good films.  It’s ugly out there, with a lot of white trash egomaniacs thumping their chests and stomping their feet because the internet provides them with a forum to act like bullies.  Slime City Massacre is available on the PlayStation Network, and it will also be available on iTunes, and I think that’s really cool.  But those downloads don’t have all the extras the 2-disc DVD has, and they cost just as much.

On your live journal you mention that you have 5 different projects on the go (hmm… sounds like magGot Films) how do you cope with balancing so many projects at once?

I really only work on one at a time, but it feels like I’m juggling because I’m also promoting them.  This month I’m writing a zombie novella for a small press, and then I’m starting a big book project for Medallion that could take me a year.  In October, Cosmic Forces is being published (it’s actually in a lot of bookstores now), and Slime City Massacre is getting a theatrical release from IFN, “indieFilmNet.”  I also help run the Buffalo Screams Horror Film Festival at the end of October, so I’m watching a lot of great indie films now.  I’ve honestly got more going on right now than I’ve ever had happening in my life before, and I actually have had to look at some of the distractions and say, “You’ve got to go.”

Describe yourself or your work with a Haiku

Do I look like I read or write poetry?  “There once was a girl from Nantucket…”