William Grefe

@ Legendary Writer & Director

William (“Bill”) Grefé is a true pioneer of Florida independent filmmaking and legendary cult movie director.  As a youth, he attended the University of Miami on a Dramatic scholarship, and then went on to act in Summer Stock in Woodstock, New York.  During the Korean War, he proudly served in the U.S. Navy.

He then turned his talents toward writing and filmmaking, writing and directing his first feature: The Checkered Flag filmed in Miami.  His second film, Racing Fever, again realized Bill as director/producer/screenwriter.

Throughout the ‘60s/’70s, Bill directed some of the best and most highly regarded cult and horror films of the fabled Grindhouse era, beginning with a trio of 1966 cult classics: Death Curse of Tartu, Sting of Death, and the former lost film The Devil’s Sisters.  Death Curse of Tartu is a favorite creature feature among monster movie enthusiasts.  The Devil’s Sisters, for decades regarded as a “lost film”, enjoyed a resurgence of interest and popularity as a film print was discovered in Germany in 2013.

Grefé rounded out the ‘60s with another threesome of counter-culture curiosities: The Hooked Generation, The Naked Zoo (starring Rita Hayworth), and The Psychedelic Priest.

As the ‘70s dawned, Grefé turned back to horror exploitation, most notably in the beloved nature-run-amok sub-genre, beginning with the 1972 hit Stanley, which remains his signature film.  Stanley is hailed as one of the great nature-run-amok features, hissing the slithery story of a disassociated Vietnam veteran who possesses a kinship with rattlesnakes, and who uses this bond to wreak havoc on his bipedal enemies.  In select theaters during time of initial release, Stanley out-grossed the Academy Award winner The Godfather.

In 1975, Grefé followed up Stanley’s success of with the psychological horror film Impulse, starring William Shatner, Harold “Odd Job” Sakata, Ruth Roman, and the lovely Jennifer Bishop (who would again star for Bill in his next feature Mako: Jaws of Death).  Impulse was filmed entirely in Tampa, Florida and showcases William “Captain Kirk” Shatner in what many fans believe to be his best non-Star Trek role as “Matt Stone”, a deranged, pinkie finger-chewing con man out to steal the stately inheritance of a distraught widow.

In the wake of the success of Jaws, Grefé let loose his cinematic Kraken Mako: Jaws of Death, a screenplay that he actually wrote before that blockbuster was released.  A triumphant return to the nature-run-amok genre that served him so well with Stanley, Sting of Death (a “Jellyfish Monster”) and Death Curse of Tartu (featuring attacks by nature’s creatures, including a snake, alligator and shark), Mako was yet another box-office and critical hit in Grefé’s burgeoning pantheon of films.  Bill’s last proper cult feature was the 1977 exploitationer Whiskey Mountain, which rode the popularity wave of southern road movies of the time, due to hits such as Smokey and the Bandit.

Post Whiskey Mountain, Bill produced and directed 20+ half hour films for Bacardi rum, and over 50 commercials.

In 1985, Bill crowned his illustrious career by producing the famed Cease Fire with Don Johnson, not just a commercial success, but a fulfilling work that honored all Vietnam War veterans.

In addition to Bill’s feature film omnibus, he also served as President and Head of Production of South Florida’s Ivan Tours Studios, famous at the time for the Flipper and Gentle Ben television shows.  He is also noted for having directed second unit on the 1974 James Bond picture Live and Let Die, filmed partially in Florida.  He has since been the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his contributions to Florida motion pictures and cinema in general, including: A Certificate of Appreciation from the Mayor of Dade County, awarded by the University of Miami Film Association, given a key to the city of North Miami, elected to the Miami Edison Hall of Fame, named by the Entertainment Revue as “The Man Who is Florida Films”, and had his features screened at countless honorary events and film festivals, including: the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival, the Gasparilla International Film Festival (Tampa), and the New Beverly Cinema at the request of Quentin Tarantino.  Bill has also spoken before attendees of the Cannes Film Festival and at the France TV Festival in Nice.

Bill resides in sunny South Florida with his lovely wife Grace and his large and wonderful family.  He continues to be a very active filmmaker, having directed the short film Consider Us Even in 2014.  He regularly makes event appearances for his fans, is a goodwill ambassador for cult movie entertainment, and does filmmaking/distribution seminars and lectures.  All of William Grefé’s films are in worldwide distribution, and as his cinematic legend grows, so will the popularity of his motion pictures.