Fred Olen Ray
Fred Olen Ray (born September 10, 1954) is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter of more than 150 low-to-medium budget feature films in many genres, including horror, science fiction, action/adventure, crime dramas, and holiday films.
Ray is the head of Retromedia, which releases DVDs of both his own productions and archival films. He has also worked for other well-known independent studios and on a few occasions for major Hollywood studios. He is also cited as an inspiration for many independent film-makers. He loaned a 16 mm camera to Quentin Tarantino so he could make My Best Friend's Birthday.
Fred Olen Ray was born September 10, 1954 in Wellston, Ohio, just across the border from West Virginia where the Ray family had all been raised for the previous 150 years. He has always been a passionate film fan, and as a teenager he regularly read Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. Being a fan of horror and science fiction films such as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and the AIP movies of the 1950s and 1960s, Ray started making his own movies at the age of fourteen.
Early work and The Brain Leeches (1970s)
Ray served in the Navy. When he got out, he went to work at a local television station, in Orlando, Florida. He worked as an credited still photographer on his first film in 1975, Shock Waves, with Peter Cushing and John Carradine. Ray then began making movies on the weekend using station equipment, starting with The Brain Leeches (1978) made on a budget of $298.00. Ray co-wrote the screenplay with political essayist Brad Linaweaver, whose career trajectory took a turn toward science fiction and film after the experience.
Ray's next film was shot on a budget of $15,000. Lessons learned from The Brain Leeches allowed Ray to keep production cost to a minimum, while using the bulk of the budget to attract a recognized Hollywood name to the project. Alien Dead was shot featuring an elderly Buster Crabbe, cinema action hero of the 1930s and 1940, and star of three Flash Gordon serials from 1936-1940. With the success of that film, Ray decided to move to Hollywood to be close to the film industry. He was interested in working in make-up and special effects, "probably from all of those years of reading Famous Monsters magazine," he later said. He found out "it soon became apparent that you would always be between jobs and I was looking for something that would actually earn me a living. I think I became a director because that was the fastest way to get a film made on the independent side of things."
Ray succeeded in raising money for a low budget horror film, Scalps (1983), which featured cameos from Carroll Borland and Forrest J. Ackerman. The Tomb (1986) starred Cameron Mitchell and John Carradine. Ray switched to action films with Armed Response (1986), which starred David Carradine and Lee Van Cleef. Ray had affection for this movie because "it had a great cast and was one of the first times I had more than two nickels to rub together." He then turned to science fiction: Deep Space (1987), Cyclone (1987). Beverly Hills Vamp (1988) was a horror comedy with Eddie Deezen. Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) was made in only a few days and turned out to be a big hit. Less popular was The Phantom Empire (1988).
After Alienator (1989) he was reunited with Deezen for Mob Boss (1990), another comedy. He entered sword and sorcery movies with Wizards of the Demon Sword (1991) and made the more popular Bad Girls from Mars (1991). During this time he published a book he had written, The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors (1991).
Ray co-directed Scream Queen Hot Tub Party (1991) with Jim Wynorski, shot in one day. Ray moved into erotic thrillers with Inner Sanctum (1991) starring Tanya Roberts. It was a hit and Ray would make others in that genre, including Inner Sanctum 2, Mind Twister (1994) and Possessed by the Night (1994).
Evil Toons (1992) was a comedy-horror, then he co-directed another with Wynorski, Dinosaur Island (1994). Witch Academy (1994) was the last of his "scream queen" movies. After Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold (1995), he made Fugitive Rage (1996), Friend of the Family II (1996), Inferno (1997), Hybrid (1997), and The Shooter, which has been referred to as Ray's best film. Dear Santa (1998) was a family film and Billy Frankenstein (1998) a comedy.
2000s to present
In 2007 he reflected on his career:
Money is always a barrier. The more they give you, the more they expect, so you're always caught short, regardless. I don't think anything I've done was ever budgeted properly for what was expected of me, but that's just the nature of the business, I guess. There certainly are films I did because there was a paycheck attached. It's a working man's world and it doesn't pay to get too idealistic about things like directing low-budget movies if you have a family to think about. I usually try to find something that interests me in each and every project. It's not really possible to phone it in. Making a film with no money or schedule is ten times harder than it is to make a big budget show where you're surrounded by a gang of super-talented people.
Budgetary constraints notwithstanding, Ray has on occasion been able to attract A list actors to appear in his films. Two time Academy Award nominee Peter Fonda played Marshal Kane in the 2010 Ray film American Bandits: Frank and Jesse James. But, sometimes, even star power isn't enough to rescue a low-budget film. One reviewer described American Bandits as perhaps "the most boring Jesse James film ever made".
Fred Olen Ray has four sons from two marriages. Two of his sons work in the film industry as well, the eldest being director Christopher Ray.
Fred Olen Ray is currently unmarried, and resides in Studio City California where he continues to write, produce, and direct.
- Grind Show - Weirdness as Entertainment (1993)
- The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors (2011), ISBN 978-0786467556
|2020||A Royal Christmas Engagement||Director|
|2019||One Fine Christmas||Writer & director|
|A Christmas Princess|
|A Wedding for Christmas||Producer & director|
|A Christmas in Royal Fashion||Writer & director|
|Witness Unprotected||Writer, producer & director|
|2017||The Twin||Producer & director|
|Framed by My Fiance||Executive producer & director|
|Sniper: Special Ops||Writer & director|
|A Christmas in Vermont||Writer, producer & director|
|2015||A Prince for Christmas|
|Christmas in Palm Springs||Producer & director|
|House of Secrets|
|2013||All I Want for Christmas|
|Abner, the Invisible Dog|
|Holiday Road Trip||Writer & director|
|2012||A Christmas Wedding Date||Writer, producer & director|
|Baby Dolls Behind Bars||Director|
|Hatfields and McCoys: Bad Blood||Writer, producer & director|
|Busty Housewives of Beverly Hills||Nicholas Medina||Director|
|Dirty Blondes from Beyond|
|The Teenie Weenie Bikini Squad|
|2011||Sexual Witchcraft||Writer, producer & director|
|Together We Can Find a Cure||Director|
|Little Witches||Nicholas Medina||Writer, executive producer & director|
|Bikini Time Machine|
|Lady Chatterly's Ghost|
|2010||Housewives from Another World||Writer & director|
|Turbulent Skies||Writer, producer & director|
|Bikini Jones and the Temple of Eros||Nicholas Medina||Writer, executive producer & director|
|Bikini Frankenstein||Nicholas Medina|
|Bikini Royale 2||Writer & director|
|American Bandits: Frank and Jesse James||Writer, producer & director|
|2008||Voodoo Dollz||Nicholas Medina||Writer, executive producer & director|
|Bikini Royale||Executive producer & director|
|Tarzeena: Jiggle in the Jungle|
|2007||Bewitched Housewives||Nicholas Medina||Writer & director|
|The Lair||TV Show|
|Girl with the Sex-Ray Eyes||Writer & director|
|2006||The Legend of William Tell||Director|
|Bikini Pirates||Nicholas Medina||Writer & director|
|2005||Glass Trap||Ed Raymond||Director|
|Bikini Round-Up||Nicholas Medina||Writer & director|
|2004||Tomb of the Werewolf||Sherman Scott|
|Bikini a Go-Go||Nicholas Medina|
|The Bikini Escort Company||Bill Carson
|Writer, associate producer & director|
|Genie in a String Bikini||Nicholas Medina||Writer, producer & director|
|Bikini Chain Gang|
|Haunting Desires||Nicholas Medina
|Writer & director|
|Bikini Cavegirl (also known as Teenage Cavegirl)|
|2003||Final Examination||Ed Raymond||Director|
|2002||Southern Discomfort: Wrestling on the Indie Circuit||Freddy Valentine||Actor, writer, producer & director|
|13 Erotic Ghosts||Roger Collins
|Actor, editor, writer, executive producer & director|
|2001||Emmanuelle 2000||Ed Raymond||Director|
|ACW Wrestling's Wildest Matches||Sherman Scott
|Actor, producer & director|
|Emmanuelle 2001: Emmanuelle's Sensual Pleasures||Nicholas Medina||Director|
|Critical Mass||Ed Raymond|
|1999||Invisible Mom II||Producer & director|
|The Prophet||Sherman Scott||Actor & director|
|The Kid with X-ray Eyes||Director|
|Counter Measures||Producer & director|
|Scandal: On the Other Side||Nick Medina|
|1998||Mom, Can I Keep Her?||Producer & director|
|Illicit Dreams 2||Roger Collins|
|Dear Santa||Peter Stewart|
|Mom's Outta Sight|
|1997||The Shooter||Ed Raymond|
|Inferno||Actor & director|
|Invisible Mom||Actor, producer & director|
|Bikini Hoe-Down||Roger Collins
|Producer & director|
|Invisible Dad||Writer & director|
|Little Miss Magic||Writer, producer & director|
|Masseuse 2||Peter Daniels||Writer & director|
|Maximum Revenge||Bill Carson||Actor & director|
|Night Shade||Nicholas Medina||Producer & director|
|Rapid Assault||Sherman Scott||Director|
|1996||Friend of the Family II||Nicholas Medina|
|Fugitive Rage||Actor, producer & director|
|Over the Wire||Nicholas Medina||Director|
|1995||Droid Gunner||Actor, producer & director|
|Bikini Drive-In||Randy Rocket|
|Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold|
|Star Hunter||Sam Newfield|
|1994||Inner Sanctum II|
|Possessed by the Night||Actor, writer & director|
|Dinosaur Island||Producer & director|
|Mind Twister||Actor & director|
|1993||Dinosaur Girls||Writer, producer & director|
|Witch Academy||Producer & director|
|1992||Evil Toons||Uncredited voice actor, writer, producer & director|
|1991||Haunting Fear||Writer, producer & director|
|Inner Sanctum||Co-producer & director|
|Scream Queen Hot Tub Party||Bill Carson||Actor, writer, producer & director|
|Bad Girls from Mars||Sherman Scott|
|Wizards of the Demon Sword||Producer & director|
|Alienator||Uncredited actor & director|
|1988||Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers||Dr. S. Carver||Writer, producer & director|
|Beverly Hills Vamp||Producer & director|
|1987||Commando Squad||Uncredited actor, co-producer & director|
|Cyclone||Uncredited actor, uncredited writer & director|
|Deep Space||Actor, writer, producer & director|
|Evil Spawn||Producer & uncredited director|
|1986||Armed Response||Actor, writer, co-producer & director|
|The Tomb||Producer & director|
|The Phantom Empire||Writer, producer & director|
|1985||Biohazard||Actor, writer, producer & director|
|1983||Scalps||Writer & director|
|1980||Alien Dead||Fred Ray||Actor, writer, cinematographer, producer & director|
|1978||The Brain Leeches||Fred Ray|
|1971||Demented Death Farm Massacre||Producer & director|
- Sam Newfield, a filmmaker who uses the "Sherman Scott" and "Peter Stewart" pseudonyms.
- Brad Linaweaver, science fiction writer, publisher, and frequent Ray collaborator.
- Campopiano, John. "Cult Film Legend Fred Olen Ray Talks the Birth of His Stepmonster". Dread Central.
- "Understanding the Holiday TV Movie Market with Fred Olen Ray and Christopher Ray". Final Draft.
- "Meet Fred Olen Ray of Retromedia Entertainment Group in Studio City". VoyageLA.
- Gaydos, Steve (March 14, 2007). "Q&A with Tarantino…when he was Mr. Green". Variety.
- Johnny D. Boggs (January 10, 2014). Jesse James and the Movies. McFarland. pp. 223–226. ISBN 978-0-7864-8496-6.
- "Interview Fred Olen Ray". Bad Movies. October 12, 2007.
- "Interview with Fred Olen Ray". Reddit.
- Fred Olen Ray (January 1, 1991). The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors. McFarland. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-89950-628-9.
- Mike Quarles (June 21, 2010). Down and Dirty: Hollywood's Exploitation Filmmakers and Their Movies. McFarland. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-7864-6257-5.
- "Libertarian Screenwriter Brad Linaweaver Slams Neocons". Hollywood Investigator. August 12, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
- 2007 Audio Interview at Your Video Store Shelf Archived March 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- Topel, Fred (October 27, 2014). "AFTER MIDNIGHT: FRED OLEN RAY ON STRIP CLUBS & CHAINSAW HOOKERS". Crave.
- "INTERVIEW WITH FRED OLEN RAY". Bad Movies.
- "After Midnight: Fred Olen Ray on Strip Clubs & Chainsaw Hookers". Mandatory.
- "Buffalo Dreams 2017 Dreamer Awards".
- "Sexy Good Time in Twilight Vamps, Bikini Frankenstein".
- "Twilight Vamps and Bikini Frankenstein Ring in 2010".