Much of the original Lugosi: The Forgotten King footage was filmed at the home of legendary horror/sci-fi fan Forrest J Ackerman. In fact Ackerman’s narration, along with the John Carradine and Carroll Borland interviews, were all shot in one grueling 14-hour day. Producers Mark Gilman and Dave Stuckey share their memories of the shoot below.
Mark: Forry was easy to contact because he had an open house at his home, the “Ackermansion,” every weekend. I think it was on Saturday. You could just show up at his place, look at all his cool movie and literary memorabilia, get him to sign autographs, take pictures and just chat. He was basically holding court. Dave and I went over there several times and just figured he’d be the guy to host the film. The location was perfect AND he owned one of the capes Lugosi used in the movies.
Dave: Foremost, for us at least, is that we got the great Forry Ackerman to host the thing. I’m not sure there is a person in the United States who was interested in Horror and Sci-Fi movies as a kid who *wasn’t* a fan of Forry’s magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland. As you toured through Forry’s “Ackermansion” in the hills above Hollywood, you couldn’t help but notice all the signed tributes from other fans – like Stephen King, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and others. This, for us, was the icing on the cake. Forry had known Lugosi towards the end of his life and attended the funeral. We shot the bulk of the documentary at the Ackermansion. We took up so much of Forry’s time, he said we were even longer than the Italian TV crew there a week before!
Mark: Forry wasn’t an actor, but he had a big personality.
We used a primitive teleprompter that attached to the Arriflex SR-16 film camera we had. It was really cumbersome and hard to read. Everything had to be hand-written in wax pencil and there were times when Forry struggled to read it. But in the end it all worked out well.
Dave: All the stories are true – he was a prince of a guy who really relished the opportunity to tell Lugosi’s story, interjecting his personal remembrances along the way.
Mark: We had him changing into a bat at the very end, but when we saw the footage, it was just too cheesy so we cut it. We had a real bat that had been stuffed, but you could see the wires so it had to go.