This edition SGM's Alan chats to William Winckler - the creator, producer and director of 'The Double D Avenger' about his film, B movies and the folk behind them...
SGM: Firstly, I have to say that any film that opens with a busty caped superheroine playing with here titties gets the immediate thumbs up in my books! You're obviously a fan of the B movie scene; do you remember your first experience discovering the wonders of vintage B movies? And what is it about this crazy genre that appeals to you?
WW: Yes, I like to start my films off with a BANG, so to speak! I have always loved sci-fi, fantasy, horror, adventure B-movies! The Vincent Price films, the old Godzilla movies, the Roger Corman stuff. . .it is all what I like to call "entertaining entertainment!" It's all about larger-than-life characters in larger-than-life situations! I have loved them as a kid and I still love them now! More so than ever! In my opinion, corporate mainstream Hollywood monopolies can't produce good, entertaining films nowdays. It's mostly 'McDonald's Movies.' Once in a while they do a semi-entertaining film, but most of the time, they don't! Years ago, when there was more of a level playing field for indie producers, you had people like Roger Corman and Sam Arkoff who cared about the films they made. . . and they made them. . .small, indie gems done in very entertaining ways! Their goal was to entertain the public, not bore them to death by trying to depict 'real life' on screen! Old Shakespeare in your country said to 'hold the mirror up to nature,' not to go looking out the bloody window! Filmed entertainment, in my opinion should be a reflection of reality, not true reality! Classic cult movies never tried to be anything other than entertaining!
SGM: 'The Double D Avenger' has obviously been something you as a B movie fan have always wanted to do, but what inspired the fan to become the filmmaker?
WW: Well, let me give you a brief summary of what led up to 'The Double-D Avenger.' I have been in showbusiness for nearly 20 years. My late father, Robert 'Bobby' Winckler was a well-known child actor in Hollywood during the 1930's and 1940's. Charlie Chaplin's wife, Mildred Harris, got him into showbiz. He worked in over 80 motion pictures and over 200 radio shows with all the stars of the 'Golden Age' of Hollywood - Edward G. Robinson, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Harold Lloyd, Laurel & Hardy, W.C. Fields (playing his son!), Gene Autry, Shirley Temple, etc.! As an adult, my father was a successful entertainment attorney. He died in 1989. I somewhat followed in his footsteps, but in a slightly different way.
I have always had an over-active imagination. . . I was a day-dreamer. . . I was also an artist and musician (percussionist) and it was a natural step to go into showbiz. I worked as an actor in small parts on various TV shows and films, such as 'Remington Steele,' 'Murder She Wrote,' and 'Knight Rider.' I worked at all the major studios observing literally hundreds of actors and directors work. . . and I learned a lot about the incredible amount of waste and bullshit that goes on! While I worked as an actor, I was also going to college and studied acting and directing at UCLA with the late, award winning director Don Richardson (who taught Ann Bancroft, Grace Kelly, Zero Mostel, John Cassavettes, Elizabeth Montgomery, etc.). I learned a great deal from Don about acting and directing.
Besides acting, I was really interested in writing and producing and directing. I wrote and produced the American version of 'Tekkaman the Space Knight,' a sci-fi animated TV series originally produced by Tatsunoko Productions in Japan (the creators of 'Battle of the Planets'). 'Tekkaman' did well in the ratings, and was successfully syndicated in America. I then wrote and produced a live-action comedy-variety TV series called 'Short Ribbs,' starring the late famous midget actor Billy Barty ('Willow,' 'Under the Rainbow,' etc.). 'Short Ribbs' was like 'Saturday Night Live' or 'Monty Python' only with a cast of midgets and dwarves! It was totally bizarre, and one of the most crazy shows I ever worked on!
After 'Short Ribbs,' I developed various live-action TV projects that I pitched to the major networks, along with Paul Zastupnevich, Irwin Allen's production designer (Paul worked on 'Lost in Space,' 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,' 'Time Tunnel,' 'Land of the Giants,' 'Poseidon Adventure,' 'Towering Inferno,' etc.). It was difficult for Paul Z. and I to sell some of the shows due to their high budgets.
When the internet boom hit, I was hired by Galaxy Online, a science-fiction entertainment website, to develop star-driven sci-fi movies for webcast and video/DVD distribution. I was developing movies with sci-fi stars such as Christopher Lloyd, Michael York, Jeff Goldblum, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Robert Culp, Bill Mumy, Claudia Christian, etc.. Unfortunately, when the dot.com bubble burst, Galaxy Online burst too. I then had a decision to make. . .work for a major Hollywood studio, or go on my own as an independent producer/director. I chose the Roger Corman route!
I began to think of 'The Double-D Avenger' in early 2000. I had the idea for a fun, sexy, 'Wonder Woman' type of character for a film. The girl 'Chastity Knott' was to be 21 years old, and very funny, but at the same time, incredibly sexy. . . every man would want to make love to her! I developed the script, and had it finished within a few months.
SGM: So how does the modern day B movie production scrape together funding these days?
WW: It is very difficult to raise money as an independent! I was lucky, in that I had some saved up, and also, when my father died he left me with some property that I later sold. So, I had enough of my own money to make 'The Double-D Avenger.' It's a big gamble to use your own dough, but if the film is a success, which 'The Double-D Avenger' is, it's fantastic because you don't have to deal with backers, etc.! You have total control over the picture!
SGM: You're obviously a keen fan of Russ Meyer films ('Double D Avenger' is peppered with tips of the hat to Meyer) but has Russ seen the film and if so what feedback did you get on it?
WW: I have been told by several sources that Russ Meyer, unfortunately, is basically a vegetable today. He apparently is in a similar ill condition to Ronald Reagan now. So, no, he has not seen 'The Double-D Avenger.' Kitten Natividad told me that Russ would have LOVED my movie, and would have wanted to appear in it! That would have been great fun!
I enjoyed Russ Meyer's classic 1960's movies 'Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!' and 'MotorPsycho' the best. It is interesting that these films had no real nudity, or profanity. The sexy elements were more of a tease, than anything else. . . like a 'Victoria Secrets' lingerie catalog! This is much more sexy and arousing to me!
I did not care for Russ Meyer's later work, written by Roger Ebert. I think they were absolute messes, disjointed stories, and tons of violence against women. . . electrocuting them in bathtubs, sodomizing them, beating the bloody hell out of them, etc.!
Kitten, Raven and Haji told me a lot of personal stories about Russ. I think in some ways his life was tragic. . . his father leaving him when he was a boy, saying he hoped Russ and him mother would die! I think the man had some mental scares. Kitten, Raven and Haji mentioned Russ's violence towards women in the films, and loved the fact that my film, 'The Double-D Avenger,' is totally the opposite of his later stuff. My film is fun, sexy, and puts women up on pedistals to be loved and adored! I personally could never raise a hand against a woman in violence. Never.
I do enjoy beautiful, sexy, busty women! I consider myself a passionate, artistic man. However, my love of the opposite sex isn't as overblown as Russ Meyer's was! As I mentioned earlier, I love sci-fi/fantasy/horror/adventure, which Russ, I'm told, didn't. I once asked Kitten why Russ didn't make a sci-fi booby movie, and she replied 'all he cared about were the tits!'
SGM: How did you manage to round up Meyer starlets Kitten Natividad, Haji and Raven De La Croix and get them to come onboard with the production? And what were they up to when you gave them 'the call'?
WW: My original vision for 'The Double-D Avenger' was to cast all unknown actors. The sexy young girls were going to originally be Playboy centerfolds, etc.. However, while I was at Galaxy Online, developing star-driven movies, I met Kitten Natividad. I later thought how hilarious it would be, to go against 'normal casting' and cast a woman over 50 to play the lead! It would be total camp comedy, a riot. . . the world's only female superherione over 50! Never been done before! Kitten was all for doing it, and she introduced me to Raven De La Croix and Haji. They were interested as well. So, I did a rewrite to the script, so the three Russ Meyer film icons would star!
For the wax museum caretaker, Forrest J Ackerman was the only choice. Years ago, I took a tour of his famous mansion full of sci-fi/horror movie memorabilia ('The Ackermansion') and found Forry to be a hell of a nice guy. When I offered him the role, he gladly accepted. He even cancelled an important TV interview he had on the date of the shoot, so he could be in 'The Double-D Avenger.' This was his 95th acting role, and many fans have told me it was his best role ever!
SGM: The atmosphere while shooting must have been a lot of fun being more like a Meyer reunion party than a serious film shoot - do you have any particular special memories from the production?
WW: Well, everything went pretty smoothly. I wrote, produced, directed and acted in the film, and a lot of work went into the pre-production. We rehearsed the movie like a play before we shot it. I also worked quit a bit with Kitten, giving her private acting lessons and teaching her about comedy. My girlfriend and I must have visited Kitten's place a dozen times, where I would go over line-by-line the dialog, explain to her the importance of timing in comedy, etc. . Frankly, Kitten was a stripper her whole life, not a true 'theater trained' actress. Therefore, the only way to get a true comedic performance out of her was to coach her over and over again. The end result worked. . . fans have written saying they think it is Kitten's best picture (similar to the Forry Ackerman situation). Kitten starred throughout and was a funny Lucille Ball type character!
During filming, people sometimes thought I was shooting a porno movie, because many of the younger girls I cast were wearing practically nothing! We had a lot of people that would stare at the busty girls, especially during the street scenes! I would send Bob Mackey, who played the Sheriff, after the crowds to have them move away. . they thought Bob was a real sheriff!
Finding the location for Al Purplewood's strip club was tough because all the local nudie bar owners were real jerks who thought I was Universal Studios and they wanted a ton of money. Luckily, I found a place outside of Los Angeles, owned by a woman named Sandy Dease, who once worked as a dancer along side Kitten! The rule for indie filmmakers is the farther away you get from Hollywood, the easier it is to film!
While we were shooting at the Movieland Wax Museum, Kitten kept seeing wax statues of her famous past lovers. . . Tony Curtis, Tom Selleck, Redd Fox, and I shook my head laughing, and asked Kitten, 'Kitten, how many of these wax dummies did you screw?'
Chastity Knott's pub location was great, because it was run by a real Englishman! Gary Richards was in showbiz back in Britain, who later relocated to the U.S. and opened a hugely successful, authentic English pub in Studio City, California, called 'The Fox and Hounds.' Gary was also a big football star back in England. This pub had everything we needed and we actually had our lunches there for the cast and crew - fish and chips, bangers and mash, pasties, etc.! It was so good, we later had our wrap party there! Gary appears as an extra at the beginning of the movie. . . he's the man sitting at the bar drinking a beer with a baseball cap on! He was wonderful to work with.
SGM: While some readers may be wary of a low budget movie cast with what is literally 'veterans' of the B movie scene, that said the ladies do show that age wont stop them being 'hot'. Were they comfortable coming back into the sexy spotlight (especially alongside some stunning newcomers like Logan La Brent)?
WW: The film is a sexy, action-comedy. The younger girls in the movie are red-hot sex symbols, like Sheri Thomas, Logan LaBrent, Mimma Mariucci, and Lunden De Leon. Lunden, a young Dianna Ross type, is gorgeous and has one of the most incredible behinds I've ever scene in my life! In the movie, her character, Ta-Ta Leader 'Orbs,' sucks this magical plant! During her audition, she sucked and licked her fingers very suggestively and my brain nearly exploded! She got the part right then and there! I think Lunden is on her way to becoming a huge star in Hollywood!
Many men have also fallen in love with Sheri Thomas, who played the sexy cavewoman 'Ooga-Boobies!' Gorgeous blonds with giant boobs are always a favorite!
The Russ Meyer stars looked great too, and it is interesting in that Haji, who played evil stripper 'Hydra Heffer,' blended in nicely working with the other two villainess characters, who were half her age! The age differences really didn't matter at all!
With some of the older women, we used special lighting, make-up and filters, and I swear, this knocked off many years!
All the women got along great together! Overall, I see the classic Russ Meyer stars as handling the comedy, and the younger girls in the picture as the true sex symbols. It is almost as if the RM stars passed the torch to the younger cast.
SGM: The film contains a cool cameo by the legendary Forrest J Ackerman, this would have been the icing on the cake of the addition of the Meyer's ladies - so how did you manage to get Forry onboard too?
WW: (SEE ABOVE). For the Wax Museum scene, Forry, Kitten, Haji and I all drove together in the same car to the museum! That was a riot! In fact, Forry gave Kitten and Haji a mini tour of the Ackermansion, including his private bedroom filled with nude photos of women on the walls! Forry is an old charmer around the ladies! Kitten got all excited! Before anything outside the 'bounds of respectability' could occur (and knowing Kitten, it might have!), I quickly herded the group back downstairs and into the car, so we'd get to the museum on time for filming!
SGM: Since 'The Double D Avenger' wrapped things seem to have taken a sad turn for Forry with the selling off of much of his legendary movie memorabilia collection (which for decades fans have been able to enjoy through his open day tours) Many of the fan community are rightly angered that funding couldn't be arranged for him to maintain the collection - do you see him much these days and if so how is the great man bearing up?
WW: Unfortunately, I have not seen Forry that often. He attended the wrap party, had a great time, and I attended his birthday party at the Friar's Club. . . but then all his health problems started. They were very serious! I am in constant contact with the editors of Cult Movies Magazine (one of the top genre publications in America), and they speak to Forry weekly. I understand that he is slowly making a recovery, but is unable to participate in any 'Double-D Avenger' promotions or movie theater screenings. I hope he recovers completely and I look forward to working with him again!
SGM: I would imagine that some corners (the narrow minded) may be disappointed that the film doesn't contain hard sex or gory violence, opting more for a more innocent but sexy fun attitude ala Benny Hill sans mammoth breasts (or should that be 'menacing melons'!) How has the feedback in general been with 'The Double D Avenger'?
WW: Let me say this. Eighty-five to ninety percent of our viewers/customers absolutely love the movie! They totally 'get it.' The film is nothing more than a fun, sexy-action comedy! In fact, Russ Meyer's most successful picture (creatively and financially) is 'Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!' which had no true profanity, or nudity in it. I bascially followed this successful formula. I am not against nudity, but for this particular picture, it would have spoiled the comedy. That being said, the DVD does have a classic photo gallery of Kitten, fully nude, as a special feature.
However, if one is looking for hardcore pornography, or if one does not have a sense of humour, forget it. They won't like 'The Double-D Avenger.' I find it sad that a minority of people out there do not have a sense of humour. . . that they are unable to understand high satire. . . and I believe it is clearly an IQ test. Luckily, the majority of the fans love the movie, only a minority don't care for it. You can't please all the people all the time, and I'm not about to try!
By the way, I absolutely loved Benny Hill! I wish I could have met him! I really do! I don't think that British people fully understand how famous he became in America! 'Mr. Bean' was and is an 'unknown' here compaired to Benny Hill! Hill really was a genius and when all the 'political correctness' bullshit started up, Thames canned him!
SGM: Do you think there's still room in today's extreme culture for the fun loving penniless B movie production?
WW: Of course! 'The Double-D Avenger' is a top cult movie seller on America's number one on-line retailer, Amazon.com. It is also sold through other on-line and brick-and-mortar retailers, including our official website - www.doubledavenger.com. British fans can buy the DVD directly off our site, and it plays perfectly there. The film is now getting theatrical distribution, which is a real surprise, being screened at independent movie theaters around the country (ala 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'). The cast and I are having fun making personal appearances at these theaters. . . there's usually not a 'dry eye' in the house from non-stop laughter throughout screenings of the movie!
Believe me, the one and only way fans will be able to see new B-movies in the style and feel of the 1960s and '70's is from indie producers such as myself. There is no way in hell that any major Hollywood studio could make a fun, small, character-driven cult film today. No way. Indie producers are the only sources for these types of films from now on.
SGM: With this movie you've ventured into the DVD production/distribution side of things independently also. Were there any particular reasons for going it alone in this way? And how successful has staying independent been for William Winckler Productions?
WW: About half of our sales are VHS video sales, and the other half are DVD sales. We decided to release the movie both ways. Eventually, DVD will take over. We added a lot of fun 'goodies' to the DVD, including behind-the-scenes photos, cast images, and audio commentaries by Kitten, cinematographer Raoul Germain Jr., and myself, the movie trailer, Kitten's nude photos, etc. .
Staying independent works, as long as you can successfully make creative films, then properly market and distribute them. If I would have sold 'The Double-D Avenger' to a major Hollywood company, I'd probably get some kind of nominal advance against royalties, then the company would go off and sell it all over the place, and not pay me a single penny more because of their corrupt accounting practices. So, by going independent, controlling my own distribution, I'm not robbed blind.
Russ Meyer himself handled his own film distribution and video distribution! He controlled everything, so he wouldn't be screwed and it worked! But it is very tricky to do successfully! We are now working with a network of smaller wholesalers for our non-regionally coded DVDs (they play anywhere in the world).
SGM: So as the PR train for the first movie rolls happily on I would imagine that plans for a sequel are coming to the fore. So what's the latest with the sequels production and shall we be seeing any more B movie greats making an appearance?
WW: I do have a script for 'The Double-D Avenger 2,' as well as scripts for other exciting projects. However, as a small company, I must concentrate on one thing at a time. As long as sales are so strong with this first picture, I can't stop everything and go off and make another movie right now. Once sales tapper off, then I can focus on the next one.
SGM: Many thanks - we'll look forward to The Double D Avenger busting back onto our screens ;)
WW: I'm double-de-lighted!
Check out the 'Double D Avenger' website by clicking here!Back to the Spotlight page