Olympic International Films
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Olympic International Films was led by the one and only Bob Cresse, one of the most interesting characters in Exploitation film history who moved to California from Florida to make a mark in the film industry in The Late 50's and wound up setting trends in Exploitation film as well as creating a intriguing legacy. The company was mainly located on Sunset Blvd., and distributed many films that ranged from Roughies, European Arthouse, and Mondo, along with a few Cuties every now and then, especially in it's earlier years including the now-legendary House on Bare Mountain. Starting off with House..., Once Upon a Knight, and Surftide '77, Olympic was mainly the domain of Cresse and talented Exploitation film maker Lee Frost, but by 1965, they were known for picking up some imported films from Europe and Japan that were very steamy and occasionally risky for the time as well as even offering a West Coast distribution for Olga's Girls from New York's American Films Distribution.
1966 was the year of their Faux-Mondo trilogy after Cresse and Frost offered their American version of Ecco, with narration by George Saunders, to AIP in 1965. Blending some wild Roughie scenes mainly at the studio of friend David F. Friedman with some actual Documentary footage mainly shot around their Sunset Strip base (Especially Mondo Bizarro, 1966), they offered what could be called a buffet of what they were known for highlighting the work of Frost. Along with plenty of fake names, these films included staged "Controversial Mondo" plays ranging from a Nazi play that would pre-stage the company's infamous and influential Love Camp 7 (1968), a slave auction, a topless club (Possibly inspired by an actual topless club called The Phone Booth located near Olympic's offices), an "advertisement" for a woman's self karate defense class, and scenes filmed through a two-way mirror, a trick that would be used later for the 1968 film You, as well as scenes from films imported to The States (those scenes actually could make one interested in seeing the whole films they come from).
1968 saw the company focus on in-house productions, mainly as competition for David F. Friedman's EVI - One could say that Cresse's productions were The Stones to EVI's Beatles. The most famous story surrounding this was when both companies released Nudie Westerns at the same time after trying to make sure that they would never release the same type of Nudie, with EVI releasing the humorous Brand of Shame and Olympic releasing the Roughie Hot Spur, which tried to hype itself as a innovative film when in reality was one of the more rough films they ever released up to that time. Their friendship was great that when Friedman was setting up a new game plan for his company after firing Byron Mabe from the set of Space Thing, he was joining in the thrills at Olympic with roles in films that were among the final films to be released by the company including The Pick Up (1968), House of a Thousand Dreams (1969), and a influential Nazi Exploitation film called Love Camp 7 (1968).
Cresse and Frost went to work on a more noted Roughie Western called The Scavengers in 1969 before splitting up, with Cresse running Republic Amusements and Frost moving onto independent production and work for companies like Crown and AIP while Cresse's acting style was only seen in a couple of Friedman's productions, with a standout performance in The Erotic Adventures of Zorro evidence of his under-rated and underused Comedy style. After trying to revive the Olympic catalog in 1970 while still running Republic Amusements, Cresse briefly ran Counselor Films, a name known for Distributing Bob Chinn's The Love Slaves, while an unfortunate incident being shot at by a Vice Squad cop around the time of the start of the production of Ilsa She-Wolf of the S S took away much of the fire he once had. Many stories and rumors surrounded him until his death in 1998, leaving behind plenty of tales to tell, mainly by Friedman who could write the definitive book on him, and a legacy of some of the most daring films to be released through a West Coast distributor in The 60's. The films of Olympic International thought to have been lost continue to be found, with a couple of films that were imported into The States released on Something Weird Video's DVD-R line in Late 2007, and like the history of the company itself, some stories are just as interesting like the finding of a print The Pick Up in Denmark in 1999 with subtitles - Each story adding onto what is one of the most intriguing chapters in Exploitation film history.
Besides Frost, main contributors to Olympic's history include Wes Bishop (Who would collaborate with Frost after Olympic closed down), Saul Resnick (The Girls on F Street), Ron Garcia (You), and Zolton G. Spencer (The Satanist, which actually hints at a later production, Terror at Orgy Castle). One of the pick ups from Japan was a film by Koji Wakamatsu before his more serious films made him a name in the art cinemas. A 1964 Mondo film by Claude Lelouch was picked up by Olympic International right after the Director found success with A Man and a Woman.
The films imported into The States were mainly prepared by Frost and Cresse. Cresse also went by the name Felix Lomax while Frost, during his work for Cresse, also went by the name David Kayne.