American filmmaker Ted V. Mikels holds a unique position as one of the most unconventional directors of exploitation cinema. Famous for his eccentric home life (he once lived with a harem in a castle with secret passageways) and promotional gimmicks (he was known for having nurses and ambulances on hand to assist “scared-to-death” moviegoers), Mikels is now considered a pioneering master of low-budget movie making.
Examples of Mikels’ influence can be seen everywhere: from music (punk band The Misfits wrote a tribute song called “The Astro-Zombies”), to Mikels’ film The Doll Squad being the template for the television series Charlie’s Angels, to inspiring the look of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.
During his grade school years, he was an amateur photographer who developed his own film in his bathtub. While in eighth grade, he was awarded his first acting role in a film that was to star William Powell, but World War II forced the cancellation of the production. By the age of fifteen, he was a regular stage performer, and developed an interest in filmmaking when he attempted to film his performances. “I figured out that you have to move the camera around to get different angles, and then you have to edit the film when you’re done.”
In the 1950s, Mikels moved to Bend, Oregon, joined the Bend Community Players little theater group, and founded his own film production company.Soon, he began producing both educational documentaries,and short dramatic features.Additionally, as horseman, archery expert, Indian, and stuntman he contributed to the production of several Hollywood films made in Central Oregon. Notably, during on location filming of The Indian Fighter, he taught studio special effects crews a technique for making flaming arrows appear authentic. Before leaving Bend in the early 1960s, Mikels wrote and directed his first feature length film, “Strike Me Deadly”.
Since 1993, Mikels has run TVM Studios, a film and video production studio based in Las Vegas, Nevada. On August 28, 2005, he was presented with a Certificate of Recognition by Nevada Lieutenant Governor Lorraine T. Hunt on the day of screening of his then-latest film, Heart of a Boy, which was the only G-rated film of his career. The certificate was awarded to Mikels for his contributions to the filmmaking industry.
In 2009, a book called Film Alchemy: The Independent Cinema of Ted V. Mikels, written by Christopher Wayne Curry, was published by McFarland & Company.
In 2010, Alpha Video released The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels which is a documentary about the film-making career of Mikels directed by Kevin Sean Michaels and narrated by John Waters. Also in 2010, Mikels released the third installment in his Astro-Zombies franchise — Astro-Zombies M3: Cloned. The film was produced by TVM Global Entertainment, in association with Blue Heron International Pictures.
In 2012, Mikels unleashed the fourth installment in the franchise — Astro-Zombies M4: Invaders from Cyberspace, again produced by TVM Global Entertainment in association with Blue Heron International Pictures. Both movies are distributed by Alpha New Cinema.
In 2007, Alpha Video released ten of Mikels’ films on DVD under the Alpha New Cinema imprint. Six of these titles included 10 Violent Women, The Doll Squad, The Corpse Grinders, The Corpse Grinders II, Girl in Gold Boots and Blood Orgy of the She-Devils, all of which Alpha later released as a six-DVD set titled Ted V. Mikels Signature Collection, which was autographed by Mikels.
Astro-Zombies M4: Invaders From Cyberspace (2012)
Astro-Zombies M3: Cloned (2010)
The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels – documentary (2008)
Demon Haunt (2008)
Heart of a Boy (2005)
Mark of the Astro-Zombies (2002)
10 Violent Women (1979)
The Doll Squad (1974)
The Corpse Grinders (1972)
Blood Orgy of the She Devils (1972)
The Astro-Zombies (1969)
Girl in Gold Boots (1969)