Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thirty Years Ago Today, and Also Today

Thirty years ago today -- on July 13, 1975 -- my friend Brian Gordon and I drove north to Dayton, Ohio, where we got to meet and interview Vincent Price. We corresponded in later years, but it was the only time I ever met the great man, and that epithet truly applied.

We got to see him interact with his (much younger) fellow cast members in a Kenley Players production of DAMN YANKEES, rehearse a song-and-dance number, and spend half-an-hour with him all to ourselves in his dressing room. He held my cheap little tape recorder as he spoke into it. I had him sign his chapter page in my copy of Calvin Beck's HEROES OF THE HORRORS, which he perused with some interest while asking if it was the best book of its kind. Being young and insensitive and all the other things you are when you're only 20, I told him it was certainly one of the best, but that I mostly wanted him to sign it because, of all the greats discussed in it, he was the only one who was "still around." He teased me back, saying that he would be happy to sign it, "even though that isn't the best reason you could have given me!" When he handed the book back, I saw that he inscribed it "To Tim, from someone who is 'still around' and hopes to be for some time -- Vincent Price."

I just now pulled the book down from its shelf and looked at that page again, with his inscription under the printed legend "Vincent Price, 1911 - ." It touches my heart.

What makes this three-decade-old meeting relevant to this blog is that my Q&A with Vincent Price was the very first interview I conducted for MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK. It was not yet a book in my thoughts, just a career article for CINEFANTASTIQUE. We spoke of his work on DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS, obviously -- "Terrible!" he exclaimed. "I absolutely eliminate the entire memory of that picture!" -- not a promising way to start what I hoped would be a revealing interview, but what he gave me was certainly good enough. We also talked a bit about another pet interest of mine, Michael Reeves and WITCHFINDER GENERAL, about which he was far more enthusiastic (as was I). I wish that Vincent and his fellow interviewee Deke Heyward were "still around" so that they could see what I've done with the DR. GOLDFOOT chapter; I think they'd be a little prouder of the picture after reading it and, I would hope, proud of me.

I have a picture that Brian took of Vincent and me that day, and if I can manage to get it scanned in the next day or two, I'll add it to this post. Check back -- but I have to post this now, or the anniversary will be over!

We've had a couple of e-mails reminding us that it's been a month already since the last update. Nothing particularly new to report except that we're still on schedule. Donna's halfway through the task of dropping the digitally restored images into the layout, and I'm giving the chapters one last read-through -- for the first time on actual size pages. They're in black-and-white, but to read the book for the first time at this size, with the text married to a finished layout, has been an unexpectedly moving experience. I said this over on Video WatchBlog already, but reading the book gives me the feeling of watching an epic film on a big, enveloping screen.

Donna moaned and groaned throughout the months she spent proofing and standardizing the text, but now that she's immersed in work that's more akin to her usual VW duties (but on a more ambitious scale), she's in her element and excited about what she's turning out.

Needless to say, I am too.


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