This is the 600th post in Let's Get Out of Here!
And we're hitting double digits with this 10th post in the April 2013 A-Z Blogging Challenge - and it's time to direct our efforts to the life and career of a favorite filmmaker around these parts - hey!
J is for Jim Wynorski!
I first encountered Jim Wynorski in the pages of Fangoria magazine in the late 70’s as he wrote feature articles and conducted interviews for them. After a year or two of seeing his name in nearly every issue – he seemed to disappear from the magazine. I found out later he’d gotten a job with Roger Corman’s New World Pictures in the publicity department – a move Wynorski saw as a stepping stone to other film work. As it turned out, his work at Fangoria had come under some question as it seemed he had beefed up his interviews with quotes the subject denied saying – and his feature articles featured hyperbolic statements that made the articles exciting to read; but which deviated from the truth enough that Uncle Bob Martin – Fango’s legendary editor in those days – was ready to cut Wynorski loose anyway.
|And never let it be said I didn't give you the whole article to read!|
Over at New World, Wynorski wasted no time adding to his legend when he worked on the ad campaign for an Italian film New World was bringing over for American distribution. In Italy the title was L'isola degli uomini pesce, which translates to Island of the Fish Men. This wasn’t nearly exciting enough for Wynorski or New World, so the title was changed to Screamers, and a trailer and poster campaign were set up with the awesome tagline “You will see a man turned inside out!” which was a great pull to audiences starting to revel in the gory effects of artists like Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead) and Dick Smith (The Sentinel). The problem was – no such scene existed in the film, which was a rather gentle fantasy film that would have garnered a PG rating in its original form. The film opened in Atlanta Georgia in 1979 – and the crowds there actually got rather upset when no man or woman or child or fishman or anything else – got turned inside out in the movie. Apparently the theater suffered some damage when the crowd expressed their displeasure – which prompted an angry call from the theater owner to New World. Roger Corman made a snap decision – and early the next week a small crew of effects guys were tasked with producing a brief and cheaply shot sequence of a man turning inside out – and this was bodily manhandled into each print of the film! The ad campaign was then reworked to feature snippets of this sequence as well as some stock shots of other New World movies – and voila! You have a movie that technically does feature nearly everything it promises – sort of.
That would have been enough to garner Jim Wynorski this spot in the 2013 A-Z Challenge – but he’s gone on since those days to become a very reliable director of entertainingly trashy B movies – more of them than you might believe possible. In addition to his horror and action films, he’s also helmed erotic thrillers and scads of T+A flicks with jokey titles like The Witches of Breastwick, Paraknockers Activity, The Bare Wench Project (and its myriad sequels), and Cleavagefield.
And because there's no such thing as too prolific in the Wynorski Universe, he's also directed under pseudonyms - keeping his work output going without dousing the market with one name continually. Some of this pseudonyms over the years: J. Andrews | Jay Andrews | H.R. Blueberry | Harold Blueberry | Bob E. Brown | Daniel Fast | David Gibbs | Heny Henri | Noble Henri | Nobel Henry | Noble Henry | J.R. Mandish | Sam Pepperman | Tom Popatopolous | Bob Robertson | Rob Robertson | Salvadore Ross | Arch Stanton | Jamie Wagner | Thaddeus Wickwire.
Wynorksi brings a fan’s heart to his movies – and they all come off with a certain charm, no matter how low budget or silly or trashy. He also is a master at using sequences and footage from other movies to pump up the action and/or the running time of his films. For example, his 1988 remake of Not of this Earth – originally a 1957 Roger Corman late night perennial – featured Traci Lords in her first mainstream film role – and used whole sequences from Hollywood Blvd (1976) and Humanoids from the Deep (1980) to beef up the B movie thrills. More recently, his Treat Williams flick Crash Point Zero (aka Extreme Limits) utilized action sequence footage purchased from Universal Studios from the movies Narrow Margin, Cliffhanger, and The Long Kiss Goodnight to provide big action and stunts on a vastly smaller budget. That is the very definition of clever filmmaking to me.
|Jim Wynorski - doing what he does best.|
I would recommend these four favorites as essential Wynorski: Not of This Earth '88; Dinosaur Island; Big Bad Mama II; and Transylvania Twist - which features a Boris Karloff cameo 21 years after his passing!
|Co-directors Jim Wynorski and Fred Olen Ray with some of the cast and an important prop |
originally built for the Jurassic Park cash-in Carnosaur, here being utilized for Dinosaur Island.
Jim Wynorski has to some extent stepped up to succeed the late great Russ Meyer in a neverending celebration of the human female mammary, especially when copiously sized - hence all the boob pun movie titles on his T+A movies. He and director Fred Olen Ray argue over who came up with the line "The cheapest special effect is a naked breast." But whoever thought it up - they both adhere to it as a filmmaking principle. Bless their hearts. There’s also a documentary about Wynorski centering around the production of one of his movies – it’s cleverly called Popatopolis.
Check out some Jim Wynorski movies - you know you want to...
K, that finishes this post – and leaves us not more than 24 hours away from the next – please do come back for it – and until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!