Everybody knows Florida is one screwed-up state. It’s as famous for its headline-making sideshow citizens as it is for its endless sunshine and its sugar-white beaches. And the Tampa Bay area, located in the west central part of the state, seems to be leading the charge.
Tampa is the lightning capital of the world, was once the death metal capital of the world, and may be the strip club capital of the nation. And at this very moment, it is home to the most outrageous, disgusting, and insane movie scene on the planet. Seriously, there is no competition.
This sun-scorched part of the country has a long cult movie history. In 1973, the absolutely insane SATAN’S CHILDREN was filmed in Tampa, as was drive-in legend William Grefe’s classic, IMPULSE, which featured William Shatner in the most over-the-top performance of his career.
Bob Clark’s DEATHDREAM was filmed in nearby Brooksville. Even the Godfather of Gore, Herschell Gordon Lewis directed his feature film THE UH-OH! SHOW there in 2009. And we can’t forget to mention the notorious (and oft-threatened) King of “Vomit Gore,” Lucifer Valentine, who filmed a movie there that really is titled… SLOW TORTURE PUKE CHAMBER.
And Tampa’s movies are just getting weirder. It’s a lively scene that thrives on shock and sleaze. It features filmmakers, distributors, and performers, many of who are as outrageous as the movies they make. Here’s a quick rundown of the key players and their contributions to the world of weird movies:
Right at the center of the Tampa movie underground is Cult Movie Mania – an outrageous movie label releasing many of the Bay Area’s greatest cult movie hits. Local “classics” like LIGHT OF BLOOD, ROT, and LOST FAITH have all been released by CMM in deluxe editions that sell out almost instantly.
LOST FAITH Trailer:
Cult Movie Mania also creates collectible VHS tapes (in the year 2015) for some of the most famous/ infamous cult-movie classics, including CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and THE BEYOND.
Cannibal VHS Set Trailer:
CMM’s releases are as exquisite as their movies are depraved. Which is exactly why Yale University has requested copies of all of CMM’s current and future releases for their permanent collection VHS library. Cult Movie Mania is run by…
Andrew Allan & Shelby McIntyre
Andrew Allan directed the locally-made, face-melting sci-fi/horror feature BRAINJACKED, followed it up by bringing Herschell Gordon Lewis to the area to make THE UH-OH! SHOW, then along with fellow filmmaker Andy Lalino (FILTHY), started Cult Movie Mania.
Lalino departed a couple years later, and in stepped Shelby McIntyre, an outrageous personality who directed the definitive documentary on Tampa’s legendary Mons Venus nude nightclub STRIP CLUB KING and who wrote and produced the completely blasphemous BLOODY BLOODY BIBLE CAMP.
STRIP CLUB KING Trailer:
One of the premiere gore FX artists in the world. Marcus has worked on dozens of movies (in and out of Tampa), including the already legendary AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BOUQUET OF GUTS AND GORE. When he’s not working on other people’s films, he’s making his own. And they are unbelievably bloody. His most notorious directed titles are SNUFF PERVERSIONS, ROT, and 100 TEARS. He is currently directing the AMERICAN GUINEA PIG follow-up: BLOOD SHOCK. He also only wears tuxedo t-shirts.
Joel D. Wynkoop
Actor/director Wynkoop is nearly omnipresent in the cult movie world. He has appeared on-screen in hundreds movies…99% of which are grade-z schlock fests. Another big personality, Wynkoop is responsible for directing the insane karate flick LOST FAITH, a $600 vampire feature film entitled THE BITE (coming soon from Cult Movie Mania, naturally).
Wynkoop stars (and demolishes the scenery with his way over-the-top performance) in Marcus Koch’s ROT and the upcoming SLASHER WEEKEND, which is being released by…
Purveyors of a handful of truly sleazy but solidly entertaining feature films including $KUMBAGS, NAUGHTY DIRTY NASTY, and the notorious AMERIKAN HOLOKAUST, which was banned by Amazon and censored by local theaters due to it’s unbelievably shocking content (blended baby in a dog bowl, anyone?) The Sleaze Box also runs a Top 5 cult movie countdown show on YouTube and releases other underground cult movie sensations.
Kelly Helen Thompson
The Queen of the Scene, perhaps. Kelly appeared in a pair of Sleaze Box movies where she gets naked, disemboweled, and slurps said blended baby. She has also directed what may be the two strangest movies ever created: THE ASSIGNMENT: WITCHES TALISMAN and THE ASSIGNMENT 2: THE ANOMALY. Words cannot begin to describe these grade-Z psychedelic freak-outs filled with absurd acting and homemade special FX. These movies are jaw-droppingly strange.
Read Doug Tilley’s interview with Kelly Helen Thompson here!
Leading candidate for the “Most Entertaining Actor of All Time” award. At one point, before they had a falling out, Gustavo and Joel Wynkoop where the Tampa Bay acting dream team, appearing in dozens of movies together. Two of those movies were directed by Perez, including the hilariously awesome Cuban werewolf super spy movie LIGHT OF BLOOD and the wild-rampaging-gang-meets-spiritual-magician movie ANGORA. You have not lived until you see Gustavo (a.k.a., “The Gusto”) deliver lines like “By-a turning me into an a-nee-mal?” and “Yo bro, that was my lady. She wanted to have sex with me real bad!”
Stephen Biro/ Unearthed Films
Unearthed Films has been pumping out some of the most notorious movies of all time for the past decade. They brought the notorious GUINEA PIG SERIES to America. They’ve released all of Lucifer Valentine’s Vomit Gore movies. And Biro just directed the first installment of the AMERICAN GUINEA PIG SERIES: BOUQUET OF GUTS AND GORE.
Donohue runs Gatorblade Films, where he cranks movies out practically by the hour. He has a penchant for finding and filming women who are more than willing to get naked and appear in movies like DIE DIE DELTA PI and DEATH-SCORT SERVICE.
The Tazmanian Devil of Tampa film-making, a.k.a Johnny Zoltar. Responsible for a slew of tasteless video assaults including HOMICIDAL MANIAC 1, HOMICIDAL MANIAC 2, and the perfectly titled HORNY FOR EVIL. And as great as those are, you simply haven’t lived until you’ve seen Johann perform ATTACK OF THE GOAT PEOPLE.
Owned and operated by Mike Sandlin, Grindhouse Video isn’t just that rarest of birds – a video store that exists in the age of movie streaming – it’s a store dedicated to serving up the wildest, weirdest movies around. Pretty much an exploitation movie heaven. And, you’ll find the latest and greatest movies from the Tampa Bay area stocked proudly on the shelves. It has also become an informal clubhouse for the local filmmakers.
Herb Kowalski is the mascot for the Tampa cult movie scene. Loud, ugly, obnoxious, and sporting a Bill Clinton style white wig and a pair of bushy eyebrows that always seem to fall off. Kowalski started by doing movie reviews while wearing a sport coat and adult diapers for Cult Movie Mania. Now, he doesn’t so much interview filmmakers as roast them – mercilessly. Always insulting and rarely interested in what his guests have to say. And yet, he is constantly invited to appear in movies and DVD bonus feature interviews. He is Barbara Walters’s wet nightmare. Here’s a sample…
Herb Interviews Marcus Koch:
As you can see, the Tampa Bay scene is a bit incestuous. But, they’ve already mounted a hefty list of cultish accomplishments. Like the best creative scenes, they all feed off one another’s output. And at the time of this writing, they are all working on new movies. Stay tuned for what’s to come. It’s only going to get weirder.
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Tags: Andrew Allan, Bob Clark, Cult Movie Mania, Exploitation Film, Florida, Grindhouse, Gustavo Perez, Herb Kowalski, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Horror, Joel D. Wynkoop, Johann Tetreault, Kelly Helen Thompson, Local Scenes, Lucifer Valentine, marcus koch, Mike Sandlin, Sean Donohue, Shelby McIntyre, Stephen Biro, Tampa, Tampa Bay, William Grefe, William Shatner