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Samuel Z. Arkoff
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    (June 12, 1918-September 16, 2001)
    Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa
    Founder of American International Pictures and Arkoff International Pictures
    Producer or executive producer of over 100 movies, including 'Reform School Girl' (1957), 'Circus of Horrors' (1960), 'Reptilicus' (1961), 'Beach Blanket Bingo' (1965), 'The Wild Angels' (1967), 'Wild in the Streets' (1968), 'Bloody Mama' (1970), 'The Abominable Dr. Phibes' (1971), 'Blacula' (1972), 'Hell Up In Harlem' (1973), 'Cooley High' (1975), 'Empire of the Ants' (1977), 'The Amityville Horror' (1979) and 'Hellhole' (1985)
    Featured in the documentary 'SCHLOCK! The Secret History of American Movies' (2000)
    During World War II, he was rejected by the Army because of his weight (230 pounds) and high blood pressure.
    As a producer of the sitcom 'The Hank McCune Show,' he created the first TV laugh track to avoid the expense of a studio audience (1951).
    Almost all his pictures were ultra-low-budget B movies.
    His favorite director was Roger Corman because 'Roger was born with cheap genes.'
    He was less interested in a movie's quality than whether it had a memorable title and lent itself to an eye-catching poster.
    He would run a formula (such as beach party pictures or Hell's Angels biker films) into the ground, noting 'Once you've found something that works, why not milk it dry?'
    In the mid-80s, he was driven out of business by even cheaper direct-to-video and direct-to-cable films.
    He and Hilda Rusoff were married for 55 years until her death.
    His motto was, 'Thou shalt not put too much money into one picture. And the money you do spend, put it on the screen; don't waste it on the egos of actors or on nonsense that might appeal to serve highbrow critics.'
    There was never a year in which AIP lost money.
    His company was known for its clever promotional schemes: 'Exhibitors would come up to me and say 'Sam, if we could just punch sprocket holes in the campaign and throw the film away....''
    He gave early breaks to future stars Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro and Peter Fonda and directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola.
    He refused to take himself or his films too seriously.
    When the Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective of AIP films (1979), he remarked, 'I suppose time can dignify anything.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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