An underground filmmaker adept at low budget experimentation, Amos Poe is best known for the music documentary "The Blank Generation" (1975) and for such features as "Subway Riders" (1981) and "Alphabet City" (1984).
The Israeli-born director's father was killed during the 1956 Sinai War when Poe was six. After his mother remarried, the family moved to the USA, but friction at home caused Poe to move to Vermont to live with his grandmother. He attended Ohio University, where he became involved in anti-war protests. Attending for about a year, Poe was expelled for participating in burning down the administration building during a sit-in. Heading for Czechoslovakia to visit cousins, the teenager found himself in the middle of the Russian invasion of 1968. Borrowing film and a camera, he took thousands of photographs of the event, eventually selling them to TIME magazine for close to $10,000.
Returning to the USA and settling in NYC, Poe began making dozens of super 8mm films, several of which became the basis for his first film, the seven hour compilation "The Domestication of the Unicorn" (1974). He then teamed with musician Ivan Kral to make "Night Lunch", a 16mm film about New York rock bands. He and Kral co-wrote, co-shot and co-edited "The Blank Generation", a performance documentary featuring such cutting edge bands as Patti Smith Group, Talking Heads and The Ramones.
Poe's narrative films, often containing sex and violence, quick-paced photography and faces from the indie world, have been appreciated for their visceral images but decried for their lack of a cohesive storyline. His first, "Unmade Beds", a loose remake of Godard's 1959 classic "Breathless", was shot in less than a week in 1976 at a cost of about $5000. The uneven result, released in 1980, marked his first collaboration with writer-actor Eric Mitchell. "The Foreigner" (1977) has frequently played art-houses, although audiences have to yet to be able to determine who the title character (Mitchell) really is, why he was pursued by a detective or the meaning of his demise. Incorporating color photography for the first time, Poe wrote and directed "Subway Riders" (1981). A troubled shoot (the original backer withdrew financing days before filming began), "Subway Riders" is a noirish thriller featuring Robbie Coltrane as a detective, Susan Tyrrell as his junkie wife and John Lurie and Poe sharing the role of a psychotic saxophone player.
Poe edged more toward the mainstream in the 80s, first with "Alphabet City" (1984), a visually stylish but ultimately hollow look at teenagers in lower Manhattan. He scripted "Rocket Gibralter" (1988), starring Burt Lancaster as a man who wants a Viking funeral and whose grandchildren--including Macauley Culkin--accede to his wishes after his death. Poe was producer-writer-director for "Triple Bogey on a Par 5 Hole" (1991), in which a writer researches a murder and produced "Joey Breaker" (1993), a film about a former agent that marked the directorial debut of former agent Steven Starr. In 1995, Poe, in what may have been his most commercial venture to date, directed and co-executive produced the made-for-cable movie "Dead Weekend" (Showtime), with murder and mayhem once again prevailing.