Don Edmonds 1937 – 2009

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I woke up this morning to the very sad news that Mr. Edmonds passed away. Most will remember Edmonds for his unabashedly envelope pushing Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, which is so… uh… scandalously unique, it’s cult status remains almost untouched.

However, I remember Don most for his slasher films Terror on Tour, which he directed, and Home, Sweet Home, which he appeared in (the picture above is him in Home). In fact, his entire filmography whether he be the producer, director or actor is astonishing. A true blue B movie filmmaker, Don is of the likes we are not likely to see again.

When Don first came upon MySpace, he contacted me (as well as many others) and started a group where you could ask him any questions about filmmaking. I asked him about the difference between filmmaking in the 60s and 70s and now and here’s the answer he gave me:

Hi Amanda

Thanks for the interest.

You’ve asked about making indy flicks now as compared to the 60’s You know, that’s a very interesting question. I really had to think about it before I answered. I think the big difference is that in the 60′s it was a new thing to do. The people that were into the TRUE indie films were pioneers in the form. Film before that was almost all made by the Major studios because they had all the juice with the theatres. you could MAKE an indy film but you couldn’t find distribution for them. You’ve got to remember that in those years they didn’t have the outlets that are available today. There wasn’t even video tapes in the early 60′s. The technology was there but it was only in its infancy in those days. TV was pretty much out because except for some local stations the only outlets were CBS, NBC, and ABC. The smaller stations did have some low budget programs but they weren’t indy films. So it wasn’t till Roger Corman started making films like the Hot Rod Rumble type flicks and the old AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL studios started grinding out the early motorcycle films that went out and started waking audiences up did us indy guys find even a foothold in the market. We make mostly tit and ass stuff. Softcore sex pics that we could at least play what used to be know as the PUSSYCAT THEATRES did we even have a chance to get seen. Dennis Hopper blew the doors off the indy biz with EASY RIDER and after that films like SWEET SWEETBACK’S BADDASS SONG started to get noticed and some indy money saw that if the films were made well they could get some play as the 2nd bill pictures. That was in the day of the Double bill. You’d have a “BIG” film from the studio’s and then they’d play a low ball flick as the second film on the bill. The driveins started booking our films and from then on we just chased the latest styles and rougher subjects. We could write, produce, and post produce a film in a matter of weeks, while it took a year for the major studios to get a film out in the market. So it WAS different because of the times. You’ve got to remember that the world was very much “THE BRADY BUNCH” and “FATHER KNOWS BEST” in its thinking. But is was a TERRIFFIC time for me. We were breaking new ground. Making film that wasn’t by committee. I could get an idea. Write it up, Get my very tiny crew together and just go out in the street and start making film.

The big boys told us we couldn’t do it and all we had to say back was “Fuck em”! We’d shoot because we’d work for almost nothing and all we had was some beat up equipment an idea, and HUGE BALLS!!:):)

So to answer you’re initial question. We were breaking new ground and we loved EVERY SECOND OF IT!!!!! Today, with the availability of Hi Definition cameras and film schools all over the place. A million outlets for the material its easier. The young filmmakers of today are GREAT and I absolutely LOVE working with them. I hope this letter gives you at least SOME insight into the 60′s as opposed to today. We can talk more about it later if you’d like. Gotta stop for now but please stay in touch.

Best
Don Edmonds

Then he came back and added this:

Hi Amanda

Nice to hear from you again. And you’re right. Most films today are relying way to much on effects and bland plots that are so watered down that the attempt to reach the widest possible audience makes them not worth the time. I’ve always loved the one on one type of filmmaking that only comes from indy pictures. We seem to be the only ones that will do the films we feel deeply about and not just what will make the most money. I’ve never knocked the big money guys. They do what they do and thats cool. Its just that I like the down and dirty type of filmmaking better.

Stay in touch ok?

Best
Don Edmonds

Needless to say, I will treasure this brief exchange forever. He was a sweet man who adored his fans and relished his cult status. Don was a true original who will be missed.

RIP Don.

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4 Responses to “ Don Edmonds 1937 – 2009 ”

  1. I had met Don back at a convention in Ohio last year. It was celebrating his film Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. He was there along with Dynne Thorne. Don was a really nice guy and very honest. I asked him when he thought his film Bare Knuckles would ever hit DVD and he screamed, “From your mouth to God’s ears!” He really wanted that film out there to the public. He told all the young people at the convention that if they thought about making any films, to keep doing it and never give up. He was a really cool guy and he signed my copy of the Ilsa box set. He even apologized that Ilsa, Tigress of Siberia was part of the set, as he hated that film.

  2. I have Terror On Tour, Ilsa quadrilogy, Home Sweet Home, and Bare Knuckles. I am sure he made some more masterpieces I don’t have. RIP.

  3. I’m a big fan of TERROR ON TOUR. Less so for HOME SWEET HOME but equally appreciative, at least.

  4. Thank You, Amanda. I just discovered that Don Edmonds died from your article.

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