Bright Lights Film Journal

Life and Death of a One-Shot Auteur

This week’s L.A. City Beat has a fascinating cover story by Ron Garmon about one-shot auteur and “gay icon,” Tom Graeff. After producing, writing, directing, and co-starring in Teenagers From Outer Space, a 1959 cult favorite (lampooned on Mystery Science Theater) that is simultaneously ridiculous and “sensitive” – in a serious adolescent kind of way – Mr. Graeff took out a full page ad in the L.A. Times claiming to be Jesus Christ. He attempted to join the Quakers, was institutionalized, and eventually committed suicide. Needless to say, he never made another film.