Reviving Dracula with Filmmaker Craig Scott Lamb

Reviving Dracula with Filmmaker Craig Scott Lamb

The Haunted Cinema (THC) – Thanks for stopping by The Haunted Cinema to talk to let us get to know you a little better, and to give you the opportunity to talk about some of the projects you are involved in. Tell us a bit about you. What are your Monster kid roots?

Craig Scott Lamb (CSL) – Well, I’ve been a fan of monster movies all my life.  The first films I ever saw were all monster movies, at the Drive-In Theater and on the local late-night horror shows on TV.  My childhood dream was to be a filmmaker or more accurately a “Monster Movie Maker”.  I absolutely adored monster movies even before I decided to make films, especially the Universal classics of the 1930’s and 40’s.

I read Famous Monsters of Filmland and all the other monster magazines of the era.  I read Boris Karloff comics, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not comics and of course collected monster toys, posters and any other monster related stuff I could get my hands on.  Anything with monsters was cool with me. 

I didn’t get an allowance as a kid, so I had to collect pop bottles to buy that stuff.  Some reading this may not remember those days but when I was a kid pop bottles were our currency!  The crowning jewel of my monster collection was a Don Post Wolf Man mask that I had to beg my mom incessantly for.  Not enough pop bottles around for that one.  Let me tell you I was more surprised than anyone when she actually bought it for me!

  Those things cost a pretty penny back then!  And my mom was famous for her, shall we say “thriftiness”.  But I was monster crazy.   I even built a full-size Frankenstein laboratory, in an old barn on my parent’s property, complete with cardboard lab devices and a life-sized papier mache Frankenstein monster, much to my parent’s chagrin I might add.

As I said, the Universal’s were my favorites but the film that really pushed me over the edge and made me decide to be a filmmaker was Bert I. Gordon’s THE BEGINNING OF THE END.  I was maybe 11 or 12 when I saw it.  I remember thinking something like “All I need is a camera and some grasshoppers and I’m in the movie business!” – LOL – Yeah, I was a Monster Kid through and through.

THC – As a film writer and producer, what films inspired you?

CSL – Well, as I said THE BEGINNING OF THE END and the Universal Classics. Classic films from all genres inspire me.  Not as much as monster movies do but they made lots of wonderful films back then.  The inspiration goes back literally to when I was a baby.  I am blessed with an incredibly long memory so I remember lots of things that most people can’t.  Anyway, I was like two years old at the time maybe even younger.  I was sitting alone in front of our TV, playing with toys, when I heard this deep thundering voice, so I looked up and all of a sudden, a Monster appeared on the screen!  Well at that time I didn’t even know about Monsters. I literally shook when I saw it!  That was Polyphemus the Cyclops, my first ever movie monster, from the 1954 version of ULYSSES starring Kirk Douglas.  Well, I was hooked from that moment on.  But the first movie I ever saw at a theater, a Drive-In theater specifically was JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS!  Seeing Talso towering above me on that huge Drive-In screen was beyond impressive and I haven’t been the same since!  Now later on I was not only inspired and influenced by the Universal Classics but also by the poverty row Horror and Monster flicks from B-studios like Monogram, PRC and others.  Films like THE DEVIL BAT, THE APE MAN, THE MAD MONSTER and UNKNOWN ISLAND still inspire me to this day.  

THC – In 2010 you became the proprietor of AIP, American International Pictures. Talk about how that came to be. What’s the status of it today?

CSL – It was actually sometime back in the 1990’s but I no longer have anything to do with AIP.  Over the years I acquired numerous once famous or historically significant trade names and other intellectual properties that Hollywood and/or the entertainment industry had abandon and forgotten, including PRC, Realart, Castle Films, Astor, AAP and many others.

Reviving the lost history of Hollywood that’s what I did.  Or what I tried to do anyway.  I love old Hollywood and Hollywood history and I didn’t want these historic companies and other properties to remain forgotten and just fade away.  Problem is whenever I did manage to acquire a good property the corporate behemoths that ran Hollywood would often swoop in and take it from me.  It didn’t matter if their claims were false.  They knew full well that I didn’t have the resources to fight them.  They won because they were richer and more powerful than me.  When the deck is stacked against you like that, it doesn’t matter if you’re right, you still lose.  Anyway, I finally got tired of battling the big boys and listening to ill-informed people saying, “You can’t own this!” and “You can’t own that!” so I walked away from the intellectual property game and haven’t looked back.  Oh, I still own a lot of cool properties, but I’ve spent all the time I’m willing to spend on that stuff.  All I’m interested in now is making monster movies, which is what I set out to do in the first place and I’m very happy to be on that path without all the distractions that I had before.

THC – AIP was not the only institution that you resurrected; you also became the owner of Castle Films. For those not familiar with Castle Films, tell us a bit about the original company. What films do you have or are working on for Castle Films?

CSL – Castle Films is best known for selling digest versions of famous films to the home market on 8mm and 16mm film, including most of the classic Universal monster movies. This of course was years before the video revolution, VHS tapes and of course DVDs.  I’ve owned the Castle Films trade name for a long time and have at different times sold public domain movies to the home market under the Castle Films banner, on DVD of course.  I’ve also used the Castle name for new films that I’ve produced and released such as KING KONGED starring the late great comedian Mantan Moreland, special effects master Chris Walas and Disney artist Chris Casteel, both of whom are also gorilla suit performers and my fellow administrators of the APE SUIT CINEMA Facebook group.  

Another recent Castle release is DAVID ROCK NELSON MEETS KING KONG starring famed low budget filmmaker David Rock Nelson and featuring Chris Casteel as Kong.  I also released a digest version of the highly influential 1930 mockumentary INGAGI starring legendary gorilla man and makeup artist Charlie Gemora.  My current Castle Films project (now in editing) is a Horror Show hosted by my very good friend David Rock Nelson entitled DAVID ROCK NELSON’S DUNGEON OF MONSTERS

I also have several more all new feature film projects that I am currently working on for release through Castle, Realart, PRC and other banners that I own, including THE TOMB OF FRANKENSTEIN, CURSE OF DRACULA, THE MUMMY’S REVENGE, CURSE OF THE WOLF MAN, THE REVENGE OF KONG, REVENGE OF THE APE MAN, CURSE OF THE DEVIL BAT and others.  All of these films are in various stages of production as we speak.  I won’t give release dates, but I will say they are all coming soon.  The reason I can say this with confidence is because I have recently developed a new production method that enables me to produce a number of films, quickly and inexpensively without sacrificing quality.  Contrary to popular belief B-movies do not have to be cheap, cheesy, and unprofessional looking.  Remember all the Universal monster movies of the 1940’s were B-movies.  I’ve spent a lifetime studying the production methods of both major and minor studios and working in film myself.  Combining this knowledge and experience with modern technology opens up a world of possibilities and provides me with the opportunity to make good quality, professional looking, period accurate B-monster movies rather than the all too common amateurish pseudo-period tongue-in-cheek tribute flicks. 

THC – Let’s talk about Craig Scott Lamb the film writer. According to your IMDB page, you wrote a modern exploitation film, Dead Girls Don’t Cry, which seems to be a departure from your classic horror roots. How did you come to be involved with that film? What was the experience like in writing an exploitation film? How can we see the film?

CSL – I was Executive Producer on that one.  It was designed to help reestablish AIP’s reputation.  I came up with the title, the original concept and wrote the original story outline.  Travis Miller was brought in to direct and Jason Hughes to write the screenplay.  The project has floundered, but it may get going again.  Who knows?  Not my bag anyway.  All I know is I gotta figure out how to update my IMDB. – LOL           

THC – Tell us about some of your other writing projects? Is there anything currently in the works?

CSL – Well, I’m really a Producer and Director first but I write the scripts for most of my projects as well.  Writing is where it all began for me, screenwriting that is.  I’ve always written with a movie in mind.  The very first story I wrote as a kid was a screenplay for a Wolf Man movie.  I always have several scripts in the works.  My most ambitious project to date (my pet project really) is a film called CRASH!  It’s not really a monster movie though it has lots of monsters in it.  CRASH! is a Hollywood story, a biographical feature film about cowboy star, serial hero, stuntman, western movie ranch owner, creature suit performer and gorilla impersonator Ray “Crash” Corrigan.  Monster Kids will probably remember Crash best as the star of UNDERSEA KINGDOM, the ape in CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN and as the title character of IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE.  But that was just the tip of the iceberg.  I have been working on the CRASH! project for the last several years now and have revised the script several times.  But now I think I’m finally down to the finishing touches. Chris Walas, Chris Casteel, C. Andrew Nelson and other notables are all members of the CRASH! production team.  Crash Corrigan lived a truly amazing life and the film is going to be absolutely fantastic when it’s finished, even if I do say so myself.

THC – As a producer, you have been very busy. Your latest production is, oddly enough, a sequel to Dracula, Dracula’s Ghost and more amazing stars Bela Lugosi. Now, seeing the ghosts of old Hollywood monsters is nothing new here at The Haunted Cinema (we put the Haunt in Haunted after all), but people may be confused how you were able to get him for your film. Talk about this project. How did it come to be? What can Monster Kids expect? How can we see it?

CSL – Well, the idea of making a Bela Lugosi DRACULA sequel actually came to me about 30 years ago when I was watching an old VHS copy of 1933 Horror Mystery THE VAMPIRE BAT.  I thought if I edited the film properly, adjusting the story here and there and added footage from other films where needed, including footage of Bela Lugosi in Dracula garb, then I could make a truly believable and authentic 1930’s sequel to DRACULA.  Now, how did I put Lugosi into the film?  Well in some cases it was just a matter of editing.  In others I had to employ some old-fashioned Hollywood movie magic to trick Lugosi into the scenes.  I did it all one frame at a time using techniques similar to those used by Willis O’Brien, John P. Fulton and the Fleischer Brothers.  DRACULA’S GHOST was created as a 100% authentic 1930’s style sequel to DRACULA.  It stars Bela Lugosi along with Universal regulars Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Dwight Frye, Melvyn Douglas and Lionel Belmore.  The film was created in the authentic style of an early 1930’s talkie by using footage and techniques from that period.  The majority of the footage used in DRACULA’S GHOST was shot at Universal Studios on some of the same sets used in FRANKENSTEIN, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE WOLF MAN and many other classic Universal monster movies.  All this helps give DRACULA’S GHOST the authentic look and feel of an early 1930’s Universal picture.  The only way you can get a more authentic 1930’s Bela Lugosi DRACULA sequel is with a time machine.  Bob Burns is the only guy I know who can help you with that.  By the way BIG THANKS Bob!  I sincerely thank all of you for your support and I assure you that every purchase is very much appreciated.

(Editor’s note) You can watch the trailer here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zz4afQv5YU

THC – Are there plans for more releases of this type? If so, what should we expect?

CSL – Yes, I do plan to make more authentic period monster movies like DRACULA’S GHOST featuring various classic monsters.  Some of these films will be created using vintage footage while others will be created using ALL NEW footage.  Old or new both will be 100% professional and 100% authentic to the period.   

THC – If you could work with any actor from the classic horror period, say 1930-1968, who would it be and why?

CSL – Lon Chaney Jr. hands down.  I just love the guy.  And I love his acting.  MAN MADE MONSTER is my all-time favorite monster movie, THE WOLF MAN a close second.  I don’t care what anyone says, fact is Lon Jr. was a great actor.  In my opinion he conveyed more deep genuine human emotion than any of the other “Masters of Horror”.  And that includes his father!   Lon Jr. is horribly underrated as an actor and has been maliciously maligned both personally and professionally, mostly by people who didn’t actually know him.  Funny thing to me is most of the people who did know Lon, said he was a great guy.  I’ve talked to several people who knew him, and they all had nothing but good things to say about him.  And just for the record I don’t care if he drank!  Big deal!  So did John Wayne and lots of other stars!  That doesn’t diminish the greatness of their performances or the gifts that they gave to us.  I just think it’s a damn shame that Lon has been smeared the way he has over the years.  All the man ever did was try to do a good job, entertain people and bring some joy into their lives.  And he did that!  In spades!  But all he got in return was ridicule.  I love all the great horror and monster actors, but Lon Chaney Jr. is my favorite.  Why?  Because he had heart!   

THC – Dracula did have proper sequels released by Universal Pictures, although Lugosi was only in the last one, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, what classic film that did not have a sequel, do you think should have?

CSL – Oh, well, I can’t tell you that, I’d be giving away my next picture! – LOL – Oh, I don’t know, most of them either had sequels or didn’t need them.  Maybe a sequel to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA would be fun. – LOL – But seriously I never thought Universal did do what you call a “proper” sequel to DRACULA starring Lugosi, not in my opinion anyway.  That’s why I made DRACULA’S GHOST.      

THC – How can people find you to keep track of your projects?

CSL – You can find me on Facebook.  That’s where I do everything online.  I used to have several websites, but I shut them all down years ago.  I prefer the real-time one on one interaction that Facebook provides.  If you want to see what I’m doing, or you want to contact me look up Craig Scott Lamb on Facebook.  You can follow me, message me or send me a friend request.  Otherwise, you can find me at my creepy old mansion, down in the lab, creating more monsters.    

A cartoon drawing of a zombie in cinema staff attire