A successful director-writer-producer of low budget films and direct-to-video fare, Jim Wynorski celebrates his efforts with no apologies and pays homage to the master of quickie filmmaking, Roger Corman, at whose factory Wynorski learned his craft. Wynorski's output has included such films as "Chopping Mall" (1986), in which teens are trapped in a shopping mall with killer robots on the loose, "Return of the Swamp Thing" (1989), made for the extravagant sum of $4 million--the largest budget the director has ever had, and "976-EVIL 2" (1992), with its direct telephone line to hell.
Wynorski realized a buck could be made off appealing to the low brow while in college. In need of money, he faked a story about actress Inger Stevens after her suicide and sold it to a tabloid newspaper. Soon, he was writing for the tabloid on a regular basis, earning $150 a story. After college, he was offered a full-time position, but chose instead to try his hand at directing TV commercials. Wynorski specialized in the annoying kind of local quickies that appear constantly during the daytime and especially late at night. In 1977, he decided to try his luck in Hollywood. After several months of inactivity, Wynorski hooked on to production work with producer Burt Leonard. In 1980-81, he was location manager for the short-lived ABC TV series "Breaking Away".
On an airplane flight, Wynorski met someone who worked with the legendary low-budget filmmaker Roger Corman, whose New World Pictures had been churning out films for several decades on shoe-string amounts. A few days later, Wynorski was hired by Julie Corman as advertising director for New World Productions. The success of the 1982 release "Conan the Barbarian" made Corman want to do a similar-themed picture. Wynorski went away for the weekend and came back with a detailed story for what would become the 80-minute film "Sorceress" (1982). Put into production without a finished script, "Sorceress" went on to be one of Corman's biggest successes, allowing Wynorski to abandon his advertising work to concentrate on filmmaking. Wynorski next executive produced and worked on the screenplay for "Screwballs" (1983), before being given a chance to direct his own script (co-written with frequent collaborator R J Robertson) for "The Lost Empire" (1985), in which a scantily-clad woman is stranded on an uncharted island.
Following the success of "Chopping Mall", Wynorski guided Angie Dickinson in "Big Bad Mama II" (1987), a sequel-cum-loose remake about a sexy female bank robber. The director had found his groove and went on to helm numerous knock-off sequels and remakes. His "Not of This Earth" (1988), a virtual scene by scene recreation of Corman's 1957 above average alien vampire flick, was shot in eleven days and marked the legitimate debut of porn actress Traci Lords. He had his biggest budget ($4 million) with "Return of the Swamp Thing" (1989), a character Wynorski has described as "all the tortured creatures who have beautiful souls trapped in ugly exteriors." Featuring Louis Jourdan as a mad scientist and Heather Locklear as the damsel in distress, "Return of the Swamp Thing" was an uneven, yet enjoyable spoof full of obvious jokes and a comic-book style. (Most critics faulted a subplot about two boys trying to photograph the creature as not humorous.)
As the direct-to-video market increased, Wynorski found himself working not just with Corman--now heading Concorde--but with other companies, including his own Sunset Films. "Sorority House Massacre 2" (1990) had numerous buxom nymphets on the run from an unseen presence, while "Munchie" (1992) was supposed to be an effort for kids, with Dom DeLuise doing the voice of the character and Loni Anderson leading the live-action cast. The success of "Jurassic Park" in the mainstream world led to Wynorski's "Dinosaur Island" (1994), in which scantily clad women find themselves facing prehistoric--and hungry--reptiles. In the more recent "Demolition High" (1996), high school students fight nuclear terrorists.
Wynorski has also begun to branch out to the small screen under the "Roger Corman Presents" banner on Showtime, he directed "Wasp Woman" (1995), about an aging model who gets a serum that has surprising side effects, and "Vampirella" (1996).