I first spoke to Gary Sherman while I was writing my monograph on DEATH LINE initially over Skype, when he graciously granted me a three hour interview for inclusion in the book (because of connectivity issues, he ended up having to sit in the lobby of his building while he spoke to me), and then later in the flesh, when we both coincidentally ended up attending Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival. On both occasions I found him to be kind, funny, candid, and remarkably humbled that I had chosen to write about his movie (a film I consider to be a landmark in British horror). Still, I was worried. What would happen when he eventually read the monograph (an admittedly odd mixture of fiction and non-fiction)? Would he literally throw the book at me?
When the time came to say our goodbyes in Montreal, he told me how much he was looking forward to reading it.
I needn’t have worried. Upon receiving his copy, Gary professed to be delighted with the book and asked to purchase extra copies to give away to his friends and family. He only hoped that we would meet again before long so as to be able to sign each other’s books. But who knew when that would be?
Cut to two years later: Gary was due to be visiting the UK, and Josh Saco from London’s Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies approached him about doing an onstage career interview, to be moderated by yours truly.
‘It might not be quite what you’re expecting,’ I warned him, and quickly fled before he could ask me why.
Everything fell into place
And so it was that earlier this week, I found myself waiting for Gary in a Russell Square pub (just around the corner from the tube station that serves as the primary setting for DEATH LINE).
When he arrived, he was as energised and enthusiastic as ever, even more so when we left for the evening’s venue and discovered the attendees queueing around the block to get in.
Onstage he was a delight, entertaining everyone with insights into his films and (occasionally scurrilous) anecdotes about the making of them, involving the likes of Donald Pleasence, Christopher Lee, Samuel Z. Arkoff and Wings Hauser. The audience responded in kind, breaking into spontaneous applause when I screened a clip of the seven-minute tracking shot from DEATH LINE.
At the break, Gary was swamped with fans wanting pieces of memorabilia signed, and we sold nearly all of the copies of the monograph that had been provided for the event. My only regret is that the signing time ate into our interview, and therefore I didn’t get the chance to cover everything I would have liked. By the time the evening ended, we all agreed we wished it could have gone on for longer.
(Still, although I remembered to bring my own personal copy of the book for Gary to inscribe, he neglected to do the same. So maybe there’ll be a next time . . . )