I Love You, Ted V. Mikels!

I’m not in the Directors’ Guild, not in any guild. I just don’t want anyone telling me what to do, or what I can not do. – Ted V. Mikels

I’ve expressed my admiration for B-movie maestro Ted. V. Mikels before when discussing the life of Mikels’ starlet Tura Satana as well as Mikels’ ode to go-go dancing, Girl in Gold Boots (1968). He’s my favorite purveyor of American no-budget movies and if you haven’t experienced a Mikels’ film yet you should stop reading this and go visit his official website the Wild World of Ted V. Mikels. At age 80 Mr. Mikels is still going strong and you can find autographed DVDs of many of his films for sale there.

So why this sudden outburst of love for Ted. V. Mikels? Today is the final day of The Spirit of Ed Wood Blogathon and Mikels career as a director, cinematographer, writer, producer and actor is comparable to Ed Wood’s. Mikels even worked with Wood on the film Orgy of the Dead (1965). So I thought I’d share a trailer from Mikels’ film The Astro Zombies (1965) as a reminder that The Spirit of Ed Wood Blogathon ends today. If you haven’t contributed yet you still have time (at least according to the West Coast clock I’m on) or if you just want to check out the final results you can find them at Cinema Styles.

Trailer for The Astro-Zombies (1968)

More words of wisdom from Mr. Mikels:

The easiest thing is making the film. The toughest thing is getting the money, the second toughest is getting it back. – Ted V. Mikels

It takes your guts and your entrails and your soul to make a film. It takes everything you possess within you! – Ted V. Mikels

And a few highlights from an interview with Ted V. Mikels conducted by Crazed Fan Boy aka Ed Tucker.

ET: In your career, you appear to have worked with more of your fellow cult filmmakers than any other person.

TM: I think that comes about because writing, directing, producing, shooting, and editing leaves you open for involvement in other people’s movies. No one had heard of Ed Wood at the time I worked with him but I was asked to come in and light one of his movies. I was teaching the cameraman how to shoot so he could get his union card. Other people who did not have the money go full bore on a picture with a big crew would ask me to come in and shoot because I had the equipment and, above all, the knowledge. I was contacted by a lot of directors who had not directed before. They needed a cameraman who could come in and help them direct. I don’t mean telling the actors how to perform, I mean helping them with camera set-ups and compatible camera angles. That is where a lot of first-time directors fall down.

ET: The Ed Wood film you mentioned was “Orgy of the Dead”?

TM: I don’t think it was called that when I was involved. I do know that, when I was there, Criswell was in it.

ET: I believe the film was known by multiple titles in production including “Ghouls and Dolls”, “Nudie Ghoulies”, and “Orgy of the Damned”.

TM: They also went in and added a lot of footage of topless girls dancing in the woods. I didn’t shoot that.

ET: Did you actually work with Ed Wood or just with Stephen Apostolof?

TM: Ed Wood was there in the rooms and hanging around but nobody knew who he was back then. The first time I even heard of Ed Wood was when somebody sent me a picture around 1991 or 1992 and said here you are on a crew with Ed Wood, what was he like to work with? I said I don’t even know which one is Ed Wood, how do I know what he was like to work with? Steve was a friend of mine and I was just helping him out by teaching the cameraman. He was fast and efficient and became a big shot as a cameraman. He did “Dallas” and other big shows but I gave him his first job as a cameraman.

You can find the entire unedited interview with Ted V. Mikels at the Crazed Fanboy website.

7 thoughts on “I Love You, Ted V. Mikels!

  1. Kimberly, thanks a million for contributing, I really appreciate it. And Ted Mikels is something else. I can’t believe he didn’t even know who Wood was until 92. Even after working on Orgy of the Dead. I also love that he made clear he didn’t shoot the topless scenes.

  2. Didn’t even know who Wood was! It’s strange how history has made Wood such a big name in cult films. Thanks for this Kimberly.

  3. Fame’s a funny thing.

    There are a lot of no-budget indy directors like Mikels, Doris Wishman, H.G. Lewis, Al Adamson and Andy Milligan who are just as talented and possibly even more interesting than Wood who all worked in and around Hollywood at the same time. But thanks to critics like Micheal Medved who decided to declare Ed Wood “the worst director ever” and Burton’s popular Oscar winning biopic the world now knows who he is. Without Burton’s film, there’s an extremely high probability that this blogathon would have never taken place.

    On a side note, I’m not sure I totally believe that Ted is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth regrading his memory of Ed. Guys like Mikels and Ed Wood were sideshow barkers and salesmen who also made movies. Take everything they say with a LARGE grain of salt!

  4. I am certainly a fan of Wood’s films and it is a not really true that he is the worst director of all time and I am not sure what a title like that really means. Lots of people of course are familiar now with his films because of the dubious title bestowed upon him by a handful of critics and Tim Burton’s loose biopic. But sadly other interesting film makers,a s you mentioned, like Milligan, Mikels, Adamson, Ron Ormond, Jack Hill are still all but forgotten or objects of scorn and derision. They were true film mavericks working out even outside systems on near to non-existent budgets and under tight production schedules the big name directors had the clout to avoid.

    Astro Zombies is one of the funnest films of all time to watch and I am amazed at online movie bloggers who seem to miss the whole point of a true classic like this.

    Thanks for this little nod to Ted V. Mikels and his clan.


  5. Girl in Gold Boots is a classic. Not just a movie featuring go-go dancing, but a movie in which go-go dancing is the heart and soul of the movie! That’s what’s missing from Hollywood today. Too much violence, not enough go-go dancing.

  6. I just wrapped up a three post tribute of my own on Ted V. Mikels over at the Cafe. Hope we have enlightened at least one soul.

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