If someone were to tell you that on one particular day in 1973 they were the guest of Christopher Lee on the set of James Bond: The Man with The Golden Gun and spent that very same night with Diana Rigg, Vincent Price, and Coral Browne, your suspicions might be justifiably raised.
Director and writer Sam Irvin understands the unbelievable aspects of that day in England and says, “If I didn’t have witnesses, no one would believe me!”
Irvin (whose brand new memoir/interview collection I Was a Teenage Monster Hunter details encounters like these with some of Hollywood’s biggest horror stars) has, by his own admission, “lived a charmed life.”
Starting out as the creator of legendary fanzine Bizarre, Irvin found his way into the lives of many of the stars of yesteryear, living an Almost Famous-style existence through a series of interviews that are collected for the first time in Monster Hunter.
Irvin said the genesis of the book came about due to a number of requests from his social media followers (affectionately known as “SamWitches”) who wanted to read his original interviews with horror royalty.
”I Was a Teenage Monster Hunter is a hybrid; it is part time capsule with all of the reprinted interviews, but I also explain the backstory behind the interviews and how I was able to land them and the memorable moments with the stars. It’s also a coming of age memoir about a closeted “Monster Kid” and it goes back to the early chapters of my childhood, all the way up to the Famous Monsters Convention in 1975,” Irvin said.
The access that Irvin was able to secure with the Hollywood stars is mind boggling, especially when looked at through a 21st century lens.
“When you read the interviews, they were happening at the height of their careers, and the stories are in many cases unfiltered. Back then, they just dished about their co-workers. You don’t get celebrity interviews like that anymore,” Irvin said.
The early 70s era also contributes to the mystique and rarity of the interviews.
“The interview with Peter Cushing was before he was cast in Star Wars. I mailed a series of questions to him through Hammer Films and he answered them and sent me his home address to make future communication easier, and even some press pictures for upcoming films,” Irvin said.
Irvin was also able to secure early interviews with William Friedkin the year The Exorcist was released and with Donald Pleasance, who told Irvin that he was worried about being typecast in horror roles, years before Pleasance would appear on screen as Dr. Loomis in the original Halloween film.
And out of all of the celebrity encounters, Irvin prizes his long friendship with Vincent Price most of all.
“The chapters about Vincent are really going to surprise people. They are easily the most meaningful and emotional chapters in the book, and they take an unexpected turn,” Irvin said.
All proceeds from the sale of Irvin’s book will be donated to The Trevor Project, an organization that supports LBGTQ+ youth, an idea that came from one of his other friends, Cassandra Peterson, otherwise known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
Peterson, who was directed by Irvin in Elvira’s Haunted Hills, also wrote the foreword for Monster Hunter and suggested the charity to him.
Irvin calls the book “a true labor of love” and hopes to examine his time working with Brian DePalma (yes, that happened too) in the continuation of his life story right after he finishes a new coffee table book about the film Frankenstein: the True Story.
I Was a Teenage Monster Hunter is currently available in finer book stores everywhere, as well as an audio version starring Cassandra Peterson, Jane Seymour, Stephanie Beacham, Olivia d’Abo, Juliet Mills, Maxwell Caulfield, Linda Hayden, Madeline Smith, Chloe Franks, Alex Hyde-White and Julie Brown.