Owen: Tell me about your newest project
'Heart of a Boy'.
"HEART OF A BOY"
brings me back to my roots of drama, performing,
and presenting a family movie, unlike most of
what is going on now. We don't need more
killing, sex, etc., and who can compete with the
Hundred Million Dollar movies anyway? You
can see all about HEART on my
Owen: You have recently come
back to prolific filmmaking with 5 films back to
back. Your recent films include 'The
Cauldron: Baptism of Blood' which was a
sequel to your 1973 drive-in favorite 'Blood
Orgy of the She Devils', 'The
Corpse Grinders 2' which is a sequel to
'The Corpse Grinders' (1972),
and 'Mark of the Astro-Zombies'
a sequel to 'The Astro-Zombies'
(1969). Did you want to find a new audience
by making them aware of your previous works or
were you merely nostalgic to revive the old
Ted: I had thought
that since SO MUCH MONEY was
spent promoting CORPSE GRINDERS,
BLOOD ORGY, etc., that sequels
might be a bit easier to promote, as so many
people were "aware" of the
originals. Also writing sequels when I had
written all of the originals, I thought would be
easier as I was already totally aware and
familiar with the subject matter.
Did the modern technology make the newer
films much easier or more difficult than their
technology makes filmmakers very lazy, as they
then tend to overlook lighting, camera moves, and
the things that make good movie making happen.
Technology has all but ruined the true art of
Owen: Is there any
temptation or plan to turn those three projects
Ted: I have
friends and fans that ask me about trilogies, and
some have offered ideas for more sequels, however
I am not anxious at this time to even think of
what to make next.
So many of your films were featured and sold to
the drive-in market - 'The Corpse
Grinders', 'The Astro Zombies',
'The Worm Eaters', 'The
Doll Squad', etc. Did the demise
of the drive-in market change the entire
complexion of the movie business for you?
Ted: Most all of
my movies played "hard-top" theaters in
addition to drive-ins. Most of the time, my
movies opened in a city with a combination of
"hard-top" theaters AND drive-ins,
depending upon the size of the town or city. It
was less expensive to promote several theaters
simultaneously with newspaper, TV and radio ads,
as the cost was split between them. The
demise of the drive-in market did signal the
TOTAL CHANGE for independent moviemakers, making
it extremely difficult if not impossible to get
Owen: Is the
direct-to-video market in any way comparable?
"direct-to-video" market of selling
DVD's and/or VHS to me represents an admission of
TOTAL FAILURE. Unless you have a blockbuster
movie with all forms of advertising, NOTHING EVER
COMES from a " home video " release,
and other forms of video release are very
difficult to achieve. AND, with everyone in
the world making a movie, there is such a GLUT of
movies, that distributors not only do not have
time to look at them all, and offer no cash
advances, and almost want MONEY FROM YOU to sell
them, it seems like making more thousands of
movies should be looked at as a part-time
Not to change the subject, but I have to ask, --
what exactly was that corpse-grinding machine
from the original 'The Corpse Grinders'
Ted: The original
CORPSE GRINDING MACHINE, contrary to
what has been said, was made of heavy wood
paneling, lawn-mower parts, some electronic
wiring, a heavy beltway for " bodies "
to be put into the mouth of the grinder, and
other things. Since I had no money except for
pennies, we had to make it look like the best we
could. It was the hamburger meat that was costly,
and of course, it wouldn't keep and had to be
replaced all the time.
Owen: You also worked with Ed
Wood in helping to shoot 'Orgy of the
Dead'. What were your primary
memories from that film and the man himself?
Ted: In "ORGY
OF THE DEAD", I was asked to
help a young up-coming cameraman, who I was
helping to train for his Union qualifications, to
serve as a Director of Photography and to LIGHT
the sets at OCCIDENTAL STUDIOS in Hollywood. As a
friend of Steve Apostolof and the cameraman, Bob
Caramico, I agreed to do it. Ed Wood was an
unknown entity at that time, and I have no
memories of any kind of him, although there are
photos of he, others in the crew and myself, I
just did what I was hired to do, then went back
to my own work, and in those years, I was very
busy. I had fun lighting the sets, working with
fog, filters and lighting effects, etc., and with
only that job, instead of being the writer,
producer, director, editor, it was a lark.
It was only after the "ED WOOD" movie
was made many years later, that the name Ed Wood
Owen: You are also somewhat
known for your reluctance to use known stars in
your films. Was that stance at all changed
by having some "names" (John
Carradine, Tura Satana, and Wendell Corey) in 'The
Ted: I have only
regrets about not having names in my movies.
Names are what sell the movies, and
unfortunately, without financing, and having to
deal with the demands of the unions, you
cannot get them. I was never reluctant, just
never had financing. If I had it to do over, I
don't think I would ever take on making a movie
without sufficient financing to hire names and
familiar faces to make my movies, which would
then be MUCH easier to market.
I am amazed at how often you act as
director, producer, editor, writer, and
cinematographer on your films. Is it a
matter of wanting to be in ultimate control of
the finished product?
Ted: No, it's not
a matter of being in total control to be the
writer, producer, director, cinematographer,
editor, etc. it's a matter of "there is no
other way" except to NOT make the movie. I
would never rely on finding folks competent to do
these jobs when there is no budget whatever to
pay them. Deferrals are a thing of the past, as
almost never is there later income.
Tell me about 'Dimensions in Fear'.
in Fear has to be watched to be
explained. It was my attempt to create a movie
out of what was available to me. Fortunately, I
own all of the equipment, and found whatever help
I could to put the movie together. They are ALL a
labor of love.
Do you have a favorite of your films?
Ted: I don't know
which is my favorite film. I have loved making
all of them, but my best and favorite is yet to
What projects do you have lined up in the
Ted: I am not
going to think about another movie until I find
some sort of financing. Working without money is
far too demanding.
What scares you in real life?
scares me in real life?" The hell I go
through every day trying to find enough credit
cards to draw from to pay other due credit card
payments all used to make my movies without
money. That's SCARRY!!! I don't want to sound
disillusioned about our industry, I just know
that significant changes must be made in order
for us all to continue making what we love most,