Shatner, sharks and more in B-movie documentary “THEY CAME FROM THE SWAMP”


A major force in independent genre filmmaking from decades past is the subject of a new feature-length documentary being released on DVD next month. Read on for the details and cover art.

Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures, who has previously created DVD/Blu-ray making-of pieces on FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM, TWINS OF EVIL, American International Pictures and many others, is releasing a limited-edition (1,000 copies) two-disc set of THEY CAME FROM THE SWAMP: THE FILMS OF WILLIAM GREFÉ April 19. The 126-minute docu focuses on the man who gave us such memorable exploitationers as the William Shatner-starrer IMPULSE (a.k.a. WANT A RIDE, LITTLE GIRL?) and the shark-revenge opus MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH. The official synopsis: “When it came to independent filmmaking in the sunshine state, William Grefé was the wildest of the wild! During the 1960s and ’70s, the Miami-based producer/director transformed the darkest corners of the Florida swamps into his own personal backlot. From rampaging crocodiles possessed by an ancient Seminole witch doctor (DEATH CURSE OF TARTU) to a slithering serpent named STANLEY [pictured above], William Grefé would grind out low-budget exploitation films for drive-ins and hardtops around the world. Now, without the benefit of cages or other protective devices, the untold story of Florida’s most daring moviemaker comes to the screen…IN PSYCHEDELIC COLOR!”

Interviewees include Grefé collaborators such as Steve Alaimo, Chris Robinson, Doug Hobart, Gary Crutcher, Randy Grinter, John Davis Chandler and a special appearance by Shatner himself, as well as fellow genre auteurs Frank Henenlotter, Fred Olen Ray, Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman. The disc set will additionally include Grefé’s 1977 film WHISKEY MOUNTAIN (in widescreen for the first time on home video), plus other bonus materials:

• New documentary short on the history of distributor Crown International
• Two vintage Grefé short films (one starring Shatner)
• Vintage promo film
• Special Legends Award intro from actor Bruce Campbell
• Deleted scenes
• Grefé trailer gallery
• Still gallery

In addition, the first 100 copies sold will come with a free STANLEY insert booklet signed by Grefé and Griffith. THEY CAME FROM THE SWAMP is available only at Ballyhoo’s on-line store, and is the first of a series of documentary releases coming from the company. See its trailer below the art, and visit the official website.


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Michael Gingold

Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.

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