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Gale Anne Hurd, Producer Of THE WALKING DEAD, Shares Insights On The Horror Anthology Series LORE

Lore is a popular podcast soon to be streaming as a horror anthology series on Amazon (on Friday, October 13, 2017, to be exact). Created by Aaron Mahnke, it explores the origin stories of some of the world's most frightening myths and legends. The streaming series also previewed at New York Comic Con over the weekend. Not to worry if you missed that, though. Gale Anne Hurd, producer of The Walking Dead and a host of other well-known and beloved horror and science fiction franchises, took some time to talk about the series and horror fandom. Being a longtime fan of horror and science fiction, I found the previews for the series and the podcast to be fascinating. Fans of the genre and those curious about the mysteries behind frightening legends are sure to relish these insights. (What would you want Lore to explore?)

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1. Can you explain a little bit about how Lore unfolds?

Gale Anne Hurd: Sure. Our first season is six individual episodes of the most popular of Aaron Mahnke’s podcast. And it really is a brand new approach to material in that we combine animation, archival footage, and very high level reenactments. Because these are these are based on true stories, not fiction. These are some of the origin stories of real-world mythology. Vampires. Changelings.

We also deal with the doll that inspired the Chucky film series, as well as how mental health was treated over the ages. The ice pick lobotomy was very popular in the fifties and early sixties.

2. I did see some of the previews and clips, and I thought it was really interesting because it combines a lot of animation and real-life mysteries, but also I got a little bit of a Night Gallery and Are You Afraid of the Dark? vibe.

GAH: Yes, quite! Which is almost all very much consistent with Aaron Mahnke’s podcast. The other thing that was really important to us is that we didn't want to have talking heads, we didn't want to interview people to talk about mythologies. Instead we have Aaron, who’s the voice of the Lore podcast. And he essentially ties all these different media together.

And I also want to point out something that I think is really interesting. In addition to Glen Morgan [The X-Files, Final Destination] who was our showrunner on all of the scripted elements, we partnered with two documentarians from New York - who in fact just won an Emmy last week - Mark Mannucci [National Geographic Explorer, The Day the '60s Died] and Jonathan Halperin [The Day the '60s Died, Titanic: The Final Word with James Cameron]. And our animators come from all over the world. Austria, Spain, Germany, France. Here in the United States, and I think that's another thing that that's truly remarkable about about the show, is that it really is international. Not only are some of our episodes International - we have one that takes place in the fifteen hundreds in Germany and one that takes place in the late eighteen hundreds in Ireland - but the people who collaborated to bring it to life are also international in origin.

3. So it pulls on a number of different cultures and groups and different places. / Via

GAH: Yes, absolutely. When we talk about the dolls and our fear of dolls, some of the archival footage is from Mexico and someone who collected dolls from a river. To this day it's called The Island of the Dolls [Isla de las Muñecas].

It really is incredibly creepy because all of these events actually happen to people. And in some cases they're mysteries to this day. Including one in which there was sort of a contact with the other side and seemingly poltergeist in the house. As as well as another doll that is in a museum in Florida. People write letters saying they feel they've been cursed by the doll. That’s going on even now, with Robert the doll.

4. That's kind of like Annabelle, right? But with a little boy who thinks that Robert the doll is alive.

LORE, Amazon

GAH: Yes, yes, exactly. I think you'll see the images of it in a sailor's suit [on the show].

5. So many cultures have mythology and stories around dolls. Dolls being possessed or protecting or cursing, and so that that's an interesting topic because no one ever seems to believes children when they say something like, "My doll is talking to me," or this is happening, until something really strange occurs. Then adults kind of start to question as well.

GAH: Yes, exactly!

6. What do you hope fans will get out of the show overall?

GAH: The podcast has about six million downloads a month, so there are a lot of people who are already familiar with with the podcast. So there are two different groups, just like there were with The Walking Dead. We had the people with The Walking Dead who were familiar with the comic book and those who weren’t. The people who are familiar with the podcast already, I think they'll be very excited to seeing how we're able to bring Aaron’s podcast to life.

And the people that I've spoken to who've seen a couple of the episodes and who are fans of the podcast were surprised and delighted that it translates so well. And I think that people who are fans of both the horror genre as well as true stories… You know, when we did our panel in New York, Kevin Smith was the moderator. And he said that his wife loves those investigative shows on television, those documentaries, examining true crimes. Those people will also gravitate to the show because essentially we're examining a mystery in an origin story.

And then people who are fans of horror, it's the whole idea of, where do these myths come from? Where did the vampire myth come from? What contributed to it? How did all of us become part of the popular lore?

And I mean, it's very frightening because many incidents happen to real people and they suffered real consequences, and in some cases they died.

7. And there are a lot of stories that you hear about things, like people going up into the mountains and disappearing. I wasn't very familiar with the podcast before, but I went and I listened to some of the episodes and really like the one about the guy hiding out in the woods. It’s amazing and frightening how someone can get away with that and how legends are built around it. So when it comes to bringing that sort of thing to life, the show has reenactments and combines different historical elements?

GAH: Exactly, as does his podcast, as you know. There's one called "Black Stockings," which is about changelings. That’s the one that takes place in the eighteen nineties in Ireland, and it turns out that someone who allegedly killed his girlfriend - and this is contemporary - swore that she had been taken over by another entity. These are things that you think, “Oh, well, they haven't happened since the eighteen nineties,” but the truth is that people are still claiming that as a defense when they likely killed somebody. So that's why I think it all continues to be relevant, [like] this doll going back to the early part of the century and now you have the Chucky franchise and the Annabelle franchise. These are seminal stories.

8. They are, and speaking of contemporary and also with zombies, there are a couple of Lore podcasts that deal with zombies. There's one about Caribbean zombies and I was wondering if there's anything in the streaming series that deals with that and more contemporary stories of zombies?

GAH: We haven't decided since we haven't picked it up for additional episodes yet, but we haven't ruled anything out. I think we were hoping in this first season to sort of avoid something that was too close to The Walking Dead. But it's certainly a natural for consideration going forward. And the great thing is a lot of times when you're adapting something like a novel, there's a limited amount of material, but considering how many podcasts Aaron does - one every other week - we have so many stories that he's already researched that are ripe for adaptation.

9. And you mentioned it hasn't been picked up for the second season yet?

GAH: We haven't started streaming yet, we don't start streaming until Friday the 13th [October 13th].

10. Do you have any ideas about how you want things to go potentially for a second season? Will it combine stories from the first?

GAH: That hasn’t started yet, but obviously, you know, I think that if viewers continue to be happy with how we chose to tell these stories and the different media we used, then we would continue to use that as our as our recipe for bringing the podcast to life.

11. From what I've seen so far, it looks excellent! It's engaging and very interesting, so I'm really looking forward to it. I’m already an Amazon Prime subscriber.

GAH: Thank you! Fantastic! The other thing, really, I think I can't stress enough is how much of a partnership it was. With Glen, with Propagate, the documentary producers, Phil Kobylanski from my team here at Valhalla. I mean, it's really something, when you're trying to break the mold and do something new. Everyone contributed to this and I want to make sure that they all get credited for breaking the mold.

12. It’s an interesting collaboration and I think the streaming series will grab people's attention too.

Aaron Mahnke/Lore Podcast / Via

GAH: And I think since it's streaming, word of mouth can get people to check it out. Which is something you don't have an opportunity for, you know, if people don't watch your T.V. series when premieres. It's very hard to get them engaged later on. Where if it’s a streaming show, there's plenty of opportunity for word of mouth, if it’s positive, to spread and get more people to check it out. And since there's six episodes, it's less than a six hour commitment.

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