THE LEE GAMBIN INTERVIEW
by Dave Hinchberger
We took the opportunity to check in with film historian Lee Gambin on his new title, HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE HER: The Making of Christine. As this title has a special interest for us here at Stephen King Catalog I had a few questions for Lee and he has graciously agreed to answer them.
DH: What inspired you to delve into the film version of CHRISTINE?
LG: I have always loved it and think it's a terrific film. I guess that's your answer in a nutshell! I truly believe it's a beautifully realized adaptation of King's novel (which I also really enjoy), and a perfect scrutiny of wish fulfillment horror. John Carpenter is most certainly an auteur (he may not think that he is as he is so wonderfully humble and modest when discussing his works) and I think CHRISTINE is a perfect example of this - it is moody, stylish, a magnetic character study, a great play on the Faustian story, an excellent case study on the role of "possession" and teenage obsession and a sturdy and powerful cinematic interpretation of what King examines in this book propped up by America's romance with the automobile.
DH: I'm amazed that you were able to feature prominent contributors in your book from the film, such as director John Carpenter, the key actors, and some of the production team. Did you get the impression they were still glad to be associated with this film after all these years?
LG: Absolutely. Much like my other monographs (one on CUJO and one on THE HOWLING) I wanted to make sure I got in touch with as many people as possible to get all of their excellent stories detailing the production. I am a massive champion of providing a platform for artists who worked on these films to voice their opinions and tell their story. I think there are too many film writers and critics and academics who just ignore the production element when discussing movies, and I think that is completely egotistical and wrong especially when you're writing about films made in the 70s or 80s (which - for some reason - seems to be the core of film critical assessment and making-of tomes) where many of the people who worked on them would be around, happy to talk! So why not reach out to them? And not to stop at just the director or the leading player, but to get in there and get as many as possible which always makes for a rich document to the creation of a work. And yes, most of the people interviewed for CHRSTINE are super proud of it - as they should be.
DH: John Carpenter seems to especially have supported your efforts with this book. Did Carpenter have a lot to offer you in your research?
LG: Once again, he is completely modest and super humble. He offered what he did, and I am truly grateful. He is an incredible man. The way I got in touch with him initially was when I was working on my massive overview of 70s movie musicals entitled "We Can Be Who We Are: Movie Musicals of the 1970s" and in that I cover his excellent made for TV epic ELVIS which launched his working relationship with Kurt Russell. John was super happy to talk about that miniseries (as it wasn't the usual HALLOWEEN or THE THING I guess) and he was amazing. So much great insight and just loved to talk about it. That book is similar to the CHRISTINE book in that it is academic analysis as well as production history mostly via over fifty interviews (only difference, it's an overview covering near 200 titles, rather than being a monograph). So from there, John was just amazingly helpful. I also absolutely love that he just loves movies. Westerns being an absolute favorite genre of his - so talking about classic cinema is something that I just eat up, as I am addicted to movies from the 30s-60s also. John has a pure love for film history, and for instance, during the CHRISTINE book, hearing him talk about screenwriter Ernest Lehman and his work with Hitchcock, for example, was a delight – just pure bliss.
DH: Your previous book on a Stephen King film, NOPE, NOTHING WRONG HERE: THE MAKING OF CUJO, was quite extensive with interviews and research. How would you compare your experience between both books?
LG: With the CUJO book I was able to get a lot more people from the production, and therefore it is a meatier book. The CHRISTINE book was a smooth ride. Interestingly enough, the general vibe from hearing about the making of that film seemed similar - a smooth ride. But so was the CUJO book. I can say that both those books were just a delight to work on. I'm pretty proud of them.
DH: I've known you to be a fan of Stephen King's work for some time now. What was the moment, the book, or film, that made you a fan of this author's work?
LG: That is a tricky one! I think it would be a combo of seeing the films of CARRIE, SALEM'S LOT and CUJO, and reading SALEM'S LOT (the first novel of his I read). I recently did a lecture on SALEM'S LOT and just think that is such a perfect novel - just a brilliant response to small town's eating themselves up and slowly succumbing to very ancient and oppressive darkness.
DH: What can we expect from Lee Gambin in the future? Are there other King film book projects in the works?
LG:At the moment I am working on a book all about Very Special Episodes from TV sitcoms. Another big overview, but this time with contributions from other writers, so I am enjoying being an editor as well as writer there. As far as King related works, yes...that troubled telekinetic teen is getting some love soon...
Whoa boy.. er.. girl... telekinetic teen, sounds like we have a lot to look foward too. Thanks for visiting with us, Lee, and we look forward to more from your filmwork titles in the future, especialy on the Stephen King titles!
HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE HERE is now in stock, and Lee Gambin's previous work on CUJO, NOPE, NOTHING WRONG HERE, is also in stock here at Stephen King Catalog.
January 31st, 2019
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Gambin has written the books Massacred by Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film, Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo, Hell Hath No Fury Like Her: The Making of Christine, The Howling: Studies in the Horror Film, We Can Be Who We Are: Movie Musicals of the 1970s and is currently working on a book entitled Tonight, On A Very Special Episode: A History of when Sitcoms Sometimes Got Serious. He has provided audio commentaries for various blurays and DVDs and writes for various maazines and sites such as Diabolique and Fangoria.