Clu Gulager

Interview by David Del Valle

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IN DRACULA'S CASTLE, a two part World Of Disney special. In '73 he co-starred in the CBS pilot feature CALL TO DANGER, starring Peter Graves as a federal agent, and went to Sweden where he was the only non Swede in GANGSTERFILMEN.

MCQ (74) starred John Wayne as a detective and SMILE JENNY, YOU'RE DEAD the same year, was an ABC pilot feature with David Janssen as Harry O. ABC TV movies in '74 were HIT LADY, an Aaron Spelling production starring Yvette Mimieux, and HOUSTON, WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM, the Apollo 13 story, starring Robert Culp. ONCE AN EAGLE was an NBC military mini series (76) starring Sam Elliott and Cliff Potts, and THE KILLER WHO WOULDN'T DIE (ABC 76) was a pilot feature starring Mike Connors as an agent in Hawaii. THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT (77) was based on a Sidney Sheldon best seller. More interesting was THIS MAN STANDS ALONE, an NBC movie based on real characters. Lou Gossett Jr. stars as a civil rights activist who runs for sheriff and Clu is second billed. It was filmed in Kentucky. In the NBC pilot feature CHARLIE COBB: NICE NIGHT FOR A HANGING (NBC) Clu stars as an 1870s private eye. Meanwhile Miriam was busy with small roles in BOUND FOR GLORY, THE BIG BUS, and NICKLEODEON (all 76).

In '77, nearly ten years after starting his first short, Clu filmed a 35mm demo for Rock Opera, a controversial family project starring Clu's sons John and Tom and Miriam. It concerned robbery, murder, voyeurism, and characters in drag. The Gulagers lost their house in West Valley (where Clu had been honorary mayor) because it had been used to finance the filming. They moved to downtown L.A.

More TV movies, mini series (notably KING starring Paul Winfield), and pilot features followed and Clu had another shot at starring in a series. In ABC's THE MACKENZIES OF PARADISE COVE he was top billed as Cuda, a fishing boat operator in Hawaii who cares for five orphans. A FORCE OF ONE (79) starred Chuck Norris. THE INITIATION (83) was his first horror movie. Clu and Vera Miles play the parents of Daphne Zuniga. It was filmed around Fort Worth and released by New World. In LIES, directed by Ken and Jim Wheat, he's behind a plot to hire Ann Dusenberry to play the lead in a movie to be shot in a mental hospital. Wife Miriam was also in the cast. "LIES is a very good picture and has very good directors."

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (85) was the movie that brought Clu Gulager to the attention of a whole new audience. Burt (Clu) and Frank (James Karen - PV#24) own the Uneeda Medical Supply Company. "Burt owns a warehouse in which he furnished medical institutions with various items, he dresses

gauche, wears Gucci shoes and a lot of jewelry, he has a slick coiffeur, a deep tan - and is destroyed by a Hydrogen bomb at the end of the film. I think this is off the record. If Dan heard me say it I think he'd slit my throat. The script is brilliant. Dan is one of the most gifted writers in the United States. He wrote the ALIEN script. It was a fantastic script, the literature of it, from a dramatic point. I read it and told my family, this is the best script I've read in many many years. He has the opportunity to direct his own work but the money is tight. It is very difficult to make a picture with the technical aspects involved for the amount of money they're using and I think they're doing splendidly and I'm tickled to death. But it's a tough job and we are going very fast."

"This if my first horror film, unless you count THE VIRGINIAN. As far as horror, genuine horror, this is the first one I've done. This is quite an experience. It's unique. I have never actually been required to saw off a corpse's head, never, in thirty years of acting and I'm enjoying it because I'm really substituting an old school master of mine into this corpse and I take a great delight in severing his head from his body. I'm doing a three hour production now in a theater that I'm building, in which eight principals die, and many of them die right on stage. It's an old play called Hamlet, so we actors are used to violence. We are used to using tools that laymen refer to as violence. That is one of our prime considerations when we try to entertain you. We use violence in all forms in all kinds, murder, in sickness, in all kinds of ways in which journalists object and that's one of the reasons we use it. It's in my heritage. I'm a Dane. I guess I get my violence naturally. I fervently believe in using sustained violence in entertainment. Its always been done. The religious mythology of any religion you can select, any philosophy as a matter of fact, is based on violence. And cruelty and things that are not nice to the human animal. That's how entertainment has always been done. It (RETURN) has to do very simply with much, much comedy and camp violence and a great deal of really slick ingenious horror. It's all done in fun. I'd let my children see it at any time. I'm very proud of this film. It's a valiant and noble attempt at grand guignol."

"If you have no rehearsal in a play or a film, you have to direct yourself. There has been no rehearsal for me in this particular production. There was some rehearsal, which is good, but I wasn't part of it. So you rely on your own directorial instincts. You rely as much as possible on the skills of the director, and about all he can tell you to do in one day's time, which is what you have for each scene, is to hit your marks, know your lines and be as realistic as you can under these farcical