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.