Grefe Came From The Swamp

Even in the world of “B” filmmakers from Florida, William Grefe is not an “A” list name. First and foremost in most exploitation film fans are David F. Friedman, creator of the modern gore film with Blood Feast to his credit, and Doris Wishman, director of Nude on the Moon, one of the first “nudie cutie” films and arguable forerunner of today’s modern adult film industry. William Grefe’s major claim to fame is Impulse, a William Shatner film from when he was in between major studio film and TV work. Either that, or Stanley, a “nature gone wild” film in the mold of the Willard and Ben that swapped killer rats for killer snakes. A new documentary from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, They Came From the Swamp, aims to make William Grefe a better known name among cult and exploitation film fans.

Grefe’s filmography is littered with titles like Death Curse of Tartu, Mako: The Jaws of Death, and The Wild Rebels, titles that spoke to following trends of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, not setting them. His main gift was his ability to ape the more popular exploitation films while producing them on even cheaper budgets for a string of 3 rd string distributors like Crown International and Independent International. Grefe’s films were designed to tour the lucrative drive-in circuit on a region by region basis.

Ballyhoo’s documentary, directed by Daniel Griffith, goes a long way to increase William Grefe’s profile and shows how through sheer gumption and “let’s put on a show” conviction he was able to forge a career and help build a film industry that previously didn’t exist in Florida. Featuring extensive interviews with the man himself and his key collaborators, They Came From the Swamp is a compelling look at Grefe and builds a case for him being the lost 3rd pillar of Florida filmmaking of the era.

Available on DVD directly from Ballyhoo ( They Came From the Swamp comes with a bounty of rich supplemental material that helps expand upon issues touched upon the main doc. First and foremost is one Grefe’s final films, Whiskey Mountain, a spin on Southern backwoods chillers like Deliverance. Sourced from the best available film materials, Whiskey Mountain, sports plentiful scratches and dirt, so if absolute digital clarity is your barrier to film enjoyment be forewarned. Trailers for all of Grefe’s films are also included, but best of all are the 2 short promotional films Grefe made for Bacardi. I won’t spoil them here, but one features Shatner at his hammiest.

They Came From the Swamp is entertaining viewing for fans of exploitation filmmaking, and is admirable in its ability to vault Grefe from obscurity to appreciation.

Written by Michael Felix


“Is this movie in 3D?”

“No, but your face is!”

Follow me on twitter @cinefelix

Why radios are cool

When it comes to communications, we have an endless buffet of ways to tell someone they owe you $2. I could list them, but you are probably reading this blog post from one of those devices right now. And even with these lines of communication, the radio is still probably the coolest one of all (When I say radio, I mean the one you can talk through and wear on your belt, not the one with commercials and stupid political shows).

When I say cool, I don’t mean that it is fashionable, chic, or even sexy (which oddly enough is how most smartphones are advertised, some more overt than others). When something is cool, it climbs over what it was meant to be and into a different realm. A realm that is reserved for exploding cars, and close calls. A place where the action lives, it’s rather destructive in there, but it can take the heat.

Here is why the radio is cooler than any other communication device.

Radio vs Computer

Ever since the advent of the computer, movies and TV have tried to make it into this magical box that can hack just about anything. Then Minority Report came out and now all computers must have some form of touch screen technology or as I call it “Conductor Vision.”

This control scheme would make porn impossible.

The consumer has a computer in their home to either game on, go on the Internet, do graphics work, and pay bills. In short, the computer is now more mundane than it ever has been in its entire existence.

We have taken a machine that was once seen as a world destroyer and turned it into a product that allows you to trash talk your friends from thousands of miles away  as you cave their virtual skull in with a +3 Hate Mallet.

The radio is probably not in this home, because it is off diving out of buildings that are exploding or finding a lost civilization or something else that is interesting because radios don’t have time to dawdle. It is purpose built, and that purpose is to do something.

Radio vs Smartphone

Your smartphone can play games, calculate tips, and take a near endless supply of selfies; oh, and make calls. It seems like it is pretty cool with it’s highly breakable screen, components assembled in sweat shops, and its constant monitoring by the NSA.


I pose this question to you: Can your smartphone call space?

We all know that calls go into space and bounce back, but what I mean is can your smartphone call the infinite void? The answer to this is no, unless space has a antenna setup on the moon.

A radio, it can call space, specifically the ISS orbiting around the Earth as we speak. Using a HAM radio, a person can call the ISS and hold a conversation for about a minute. That might seem like a short call, but it is cost free, and if the astronauts are not busy, they will actually answer your call.

Also, radio waves can travel into space, which could then make contact with alien life, maybe, and probably help to enslave all of mankind… which is super metal.

Radio vs Morse Code

Ummm, Morse code is, uhh, really cool as the emergency communication of choice in all forms of entertainment. Also, have you ever noticed how there is always someone in the room that knows Morse code, but they have zero involvement with the military or emergency relief efforts? They’re always just some dude, and I know for a fact that most of the people I know don’t even know what More code is.

So, if I am stuck on a mountain and try signaling with Morse code and my friends are on the other end of those dashes and beeps… I am dead.


Radio is cool because of a single feature. A feature that no other communication device has or if they do use it, doesn’t have the weight in which it has in radio. The ability to say “Over and Out” or “Over” is super cool and doesn’t exist in other mediums of communication.

Over and out.

…yeah, just doesn’t work as well.


Also, check out book here:  pick up a copy and help it become a part of the Nerdist Collection!


Morning jolt: Stop it movie trailers!

Movie trailers were, at one point, a big love of mine. There is an art to creating such a piece of media, but lately, these bastards are getting out of control.

I will use The Avengers: Age of Ultron (Known moving forward as TAAU) as an example. This film’s predessor made, oh, a few billion dollars when it came out. Blowing away any expectations that the box office had for it and setting the highest bar imaginable for future comic book films. TAAU currently has around 3 major trailers out for it. These trailers have been coming out about once per month, at the rate these are moving someone online will be able to splice these trailers together and we won’t need to go to the movies to experience this film.
Why is this a thing? Why are trailers showing everything these days when compared to their ancestors from the 20th century? 
The difference today is that films have to compete against the internet, video games, and TV; I hesitate to say reading, but one day maybe it will be among the time sink activities! All of those categories are cheap, easily accessible, and in someways, are better than movies because of the cost per entertainment value. A movie was once the cheap form of entertainment, but now it is almost as expensive as tickets to an actual play. 
Add in cost, divide by attention spans waning, and you get what we have today. Does this mean that we can never again get a trailer that reveals small amounts of information? No, we have those still, but the last one in my mind that did this was Cloverfield, and it was effective because as a movie experience I knew nothing going into it.
And it was amazing for that reason, even if the movie was ehhhhhhh.
Trailers are supposed to tease us to get us into the theaters and watch the movie, but now they show all the cool stuff so you are excited for those portions of the film. The tease works better because you don’t know what you are going to get walking in and no matter what it will be surprising and entertaining.
In an age where signing up for surprises is a thing (Loot Crate and other package services) I think teasers will become more prominent and eventually will kill the all engrossing, spoiler ridden, government conspiracy driven, mantas men made, story driven trailers that we have today.
I am not the only one, here Glove and Boots talks about this very problem: