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Tampa actor is ‘King of the B Movies’ with over 200 credits

Joel Wynkoop’s movies can be seen at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival and on the Tampa Bay Community Network.
 
Joel Wynkoop, 63, poses for a portrait at Tampa Bay Community Network in Tampa.
Joel Wynkoop, 63, poses for a portrait at Tampa Bay Community Network in Tampa. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 28, 2023|Updated Nov. 28, 2023

TAMPA — Fans refer to Joel Wynkoop as “King of the B Movies.”

He has a resume worthy of the throne.

Since breaking into the movie industry in 1985, the 63-year-old has accumulated 201 credits in low-budget films with titles like “Death Care,” “Clownado,” “Make Them Die Sleazy,” “Dirty Cop No Donut” and “Rot.”

Some have more gore and fighting than character development. Others feature quality acting and surprising special effects. The Tampa resident of 22 years has been known to produce, write, direct, star in and edit the same movie.

One of his more recent films, the zombie apocalypse-themed “187 Times,” is featured at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival in December. And each week, a different Wynkoop production can be seen on his “No Budget Cinema” show that airs on the Tampa Bay Community Network, also known as public access TV.

“I’ve done it all — horror, science fiction, comedy, dark comedy, action,” said Wynkoop. “I like to say that I’ve done everything but porn.”

Joel Wynkoop shows off a dew dozen of the more than 200 B movies that he has acted in.
Joel Wynkoop shows off a dew dozen of the more than 200 B movies that he has acted in. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Wynkoop likes to joke that he’s in competition for most acting credits with Hollywood’s Samuel L. Jackson. With 219, Jackson is winning on total, but those are since 1972 for an average of 4.3 films per year.

Wynkoop averages 5.3 per year.

“But one of his movies costs more to make than all of mine combined,” Wynkoop said.

Budgets for movies that Wynkoop has either made or acted in have been as low as $400 and as high as $1 million. Forbes reports that “The Marvels,” featuring Jackson and in theaters now, cost more than $270 million to make.

Alternative Cinema magazine crowned Wynkoop “King of the B Movies” in 1996 due to his prolific acting career in low-budget movies.

But Roger Corman of “Death Race” and “Little Shop of Horrors” fame has also been anointed “King of the B Movies” due to the 512 he’s produced. So has Bruce Campbell, whose 169 acting credits include “The Evil Dead.” Some of their B movies have become part of pop culture, whereas Wynkoop’s are unlikely to receive theatrical runs or air on mainstream television channels or streaming services. Fans have to look for his movies at comic and horror conventions, online and in the few video stores that remain.

So, what makes Wynkoop the real king?

“That’s what people call me,” said Wynkoop, who despite playing tough guys and killers is the type of person who gets out of his seat at a restaurant to open a door for someone or thank a first responder.

There is certainly a reverence for Wynkoop among local peers.

“He is the godfather of independent cinema,” local filmmaker Joe Davison said.

Area filmmaker Rick Danford called Wynkoop “the hardest-working man in indie film.”

Sean Donohue, also a Tampa Bay filmmaker, said that Wynkoop’s “larger-than-life stage presence and positive attitude” are why he “is indeed King of the B Movies.”

And R. Presley Stephens, program director for the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival, credits Wynkoop’s appearances and “legendary status” for legitimizing his event in “its upstart days.”

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Joel Wynkoop is know as "King of the B Movies."
Joel Wynkoop is know as "King of the B Movies." [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Wynkoop’s interest in cinema dates to his childhood in Lake Park and stop-motion movies like “King Kong.”

“I wanted to do that,” he said. “So, my dad bought me a Super-8 movie camera ... and then when I was 15, I was filming stuff at home when I was asked to babysit my 8-year-old neighbor Tim Ritter. He had an Allosaurus dinosaur figure and asked if I wanted to put it in my movie. I did.”

A childhood partnership was formed. Together, the two shot backyard movies with titles like “The 8-Million-Dollar Boy” and “The Invisible Transport Boy.”

They lost touch when Wynkoop’s family moved. A decade later, Wynkoop learned that Ritter was still making movies. He reached out to him and, in 1985, they produced “Twisted Illusions.” Wynkoop acted in the anthology of seven short horror movies while also co-directing and co-writing with Ritter.

They delivered VHS tapes to video stores throughout Florida and mailed copies to movie distributors around the country.

“That’s how you got your stuff out back then,” Wynkoop said.

It worked.

A producer offered to fund a feature based on one of the anthology’s short films, “Truth or Dare?,” about a husband who catches his wife cheating and then embarks “on an adventure of murder and self-mutilation,” according to IMDB.com.

Wynkoop portrayed a security guard in that film, and then a TV repairman in Ritter’s follow-up, “Killing Spree,” released in 1987.

Five years later, he produced wrote, directed and starred in “Lost Faith,” about a Christian martial arts expert who seeks to rescue his wife from a human trafficker. His career took off with roles in movies like “The Amazing Colossal Woman,” “Strip Club Slasher” and “The Uh-Oh Show,” which was directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis, known as “The Godfather of Gore” for creating the splatter genre of horror films.

Sure, Wynkoop said, there are times he wishes for the resume of Tom Cruise. “It never happened and I’m fine with that.”

He recalled times when excited fans approached him in places like McDonald’s, Publix and a Verizon store.

“They’ll shout, ‘Are you the guy from that movie?’” he said. “I ask if they like the movie. And when they say they do, I tell them that’s me.”

What if they didn’t like it?

With a laugh, Wynkoop said, “I’d say, ‘Joel who? Never heard of him. I don’t watch that stuff.’”

How to watch Joel Wynkoop movies

His movie “187 Times” will screen as part of the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival at 7:35 p.m. Dec. 10 at Port Richey Cinema 6. The festival runs from Dec. 7-10. For a full schedule of films, visit tbuff.org.

His “No Budget Cinema” show airs from 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays on Tampa Bay Community Network on Frontier 30, Spectrum 639 and Comcast 20, and on Saturdays on Frontier 36 and Spectrum 638. Tampa Bay Community Network also streams on tbcn.org, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, iOS and Android.