The year 2016 has been ruthless to some of the horror genre’s most beloved names, and even the hardest-working, most prolific writers, filmmakers and performers in the industry have been taken from us seemingly without a second’s warning.
It saddens me to add yet another name to this year’s long In Memoriam list — a name perhaps less known or praised outside the niche of grindhouse and b-movie fandom, but nevertheless part of the larger-than-life reputation of a man who loved nothing more than making movies: writer-producer-director-actor Ted V. Mikels, who died yesterday morning in his own home at the age of 87.
Mikels is best known for bargain-basement productions like THE ASTRO-ZOMBIES, THE CORPSE GRINDERS and BLOOD ORGY OF THE SHE-DEVILS, and his filmography (and fascinating life) has become the subject of several books, an episode of THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE FILM SHOW, and the feature-length documentary THE WILD WORLD OF TED V. MIKELS. Even those previously unfamiliar with his work might have had a few giggles at his expense when MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 lampooned his 1968 go-go musical THE GIRL IN GOLD BOOTS.
While Ted’s micro-budget flicks weren’t exactly mainstream fare, they nevertheless scored big box office in the drive-in and grindhouse circuits of the early ‘70s. Mikels later transitioned to shot-on-video projects, but never stopped making movies to the very end, producing multiple sequels to nearly all his original hits.
Friend and colleague Art Lynch posted news of Mikels’ passing Sunday on his own blog, remembering the filmmaker fondly as a mentor and teacher (from the early days when Mikels was still shooting on 35mm film), and praising his professionalism and memorable personality — including his ever-present tooth pendant.
“The world has lost a filmmaker who broke all the rules and had fun doing it,” Lynch said.