The FANEX film convention was held in Baltimore/Washington D.C. from 1984 through 2004. Over that time hundreds of actors and filmmakers from the world of classic horror films attended and spoke to their delighted star-struck fans. Samuel Z. Arkoff is the subject of this FANEX File, a documentary series focusing on the discussions and panels presented at the convention over the years. This talk was filmed at the FANEX Classic FilmFest in 2000 and was conducted by writer Tom Weaver. In addition to Mr. Arkoff, well known writers participated in the documentary as well as the king of the B’s, Roger Corman.
Samuel Z. Arkoff, along with James Nicholson, founded the immensely successful American International Pictures. AIP discovered an untapped audience in the American teenager and proceeded to turn independent filmmaking on its head as they churned out drive-in double features overflowing with misunderstood teen heroes, horrific monsters, reform school girls, and leather-jacketed tough guys. Many titles were notable for their spectacular poster art, still highly sought by collectors today. Arkoff, with his unerring eye for talent, helped launch the careers of Roger Corman, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Michael Landon and Dennis Hopper. Midnight Marquee, Longthrow and Alpha are proud to honor the legendary Samuel Z. Arkoff, a perfect subject for the FANEX Files documentary series.
It is a safe bet that regardless of your age the name Samuel Z. Arkoff is a recognizable one. If you have ever suffered a bout of insomnia chances are your late night viewing would have stumbled across his name attached to one of the American International Pictures(AIP). Arkoff and his partner, James Nicholson.
No doubt though that AIP is a name well known by the baby boomer generation that grew up in the post World War II era of the fifties and sixties. Arkoff realized that there was an untapped demographic or culture out there. The teenager. With this in mind Arkoff partnered up with James Nicholson and quickly ran off a stream of B SF/Horror movies geared to the sensibilities of a group exploring their burgdeoning sexuality and new found mobility with the freedom the automobile offered. Posters of scantily clad, buxomed and nubile, young lasses being carried off by some variation of menacing monster and/or alien became a staple of the first wave of AIP releases.
Produced on the cheap, packaged together in bundles, and sold to the drive-in theater chains, AIP managed to turn a profit without the distribution tools and monetary backing that the big studios had. Often more than not, the movies were terrible but occasionally through happenstance managed to touch upon the teenage zeitgeist with films such as, ‘I Am A Teenage Werewolf,’ starring a very young Michael Landon. Has there ever been a more blatant external representation of puberty?
AIP movies can be measured in three waves, the aforementioned SF/horror movies, the Beach Blanket – Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello movies, and the Hammer style horror pictures usually anchored by Vincent Price.
All of this is recounted in an interview and film clip format. The interview took place at a convention in Arlington, Virginia on July 29, 2000. A then 82 year old Arkoff, he passed away the following year, is still a showman that can weave a charming narrative. As an elder statesmen he tends tend to ramble however there are moments that he sparks upon and reveals interesting nuggets. His reminiscences of Vincent Price are worth the price of viewing alone.
Crave Factor – 8
The interview with Arkoff is presented full frame ie 4:3. Some of the trailers are sourced from 16:9 enhanced sources and are left looking squeezed within the full frame. The video is quite good for a low-budget documentary and does not lag much below that of a professionally done interview show.
Crave Factor – 8
The audio is surprisingly good; there are no subtitle options and the disc is not closed captioned.
Crave Factor – 7
Menu & Packaging
A standard Amray case. No booklet is enclosed.
Crave Factor – 7
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
Definitely an amateur production but done with obvious care and love of the man and the material. A high recommendation to those fans of AIP movies, especially for SF and Horror fans.