Underground Film Journal

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Film Lessons From A Naked Angel

By Mike Everleth ⋅ December 19, 2008

Howard Lester as a biker in Naked Angels

Well, I don’t know if the bikers in the below video are the Naked Angels or what, really, but when I went to film school in the late ’80s and early ’90s at the Rochester Institute of Technology one of my film professors was Howard Lester, who is currently on sabbatical from there as of this writing.

That’s him to the left in a screen grab from his one Hollywood acting role. The movie is Roger Corman’s Naked Angels, which was directed by Bruce D. Clark and released in 1969, the year I was born. It was well known, from Howard himself, that he was in the film. However, the film has only ever had one crummy VHS release, so it was very difficult to find. Although some of my classmates at the time got their mitts on a copy and watched it, I have never seen the film myself.

So, I was thrilled to find today the video that I embedded below. It’s a compilation of clips from the film, not the whole movie itself. It runs about 5 minutes. Unfortunately, the transfer from VHS to YouTube is extremely dark, so it’s difficult to make out much of the film, but Howard is unmistakable during his big scene towards the end when he gives an earnest and heartfelt monologue about not leaving a buddy’s bike behind in the desert.

I really liked Howard and got along well with him. He always seemed to “get” what I was trying to do. I had my ups and downs with film school. On the one hand the school was earnestly trying to prep students for a career in “the industry,” but we had lots of professors who were from underground traditions, such as Howard. While I didn’t really know the difference between underground film from a hole in the ground back then, my work tended to be experimental-y and Howard seemed to respect that I was trying things out even if the finished products weren’t particularly good. I still regret my final year that one day Howard expressed interest in checking out my senior thesis film during its work-in-progress phase and I didn’t take him up on it.

Howard also directed some short underground films on his own in the early ’70s and he showed us one that I liked a lot. If I recall correctly, it was a portrait of a marketplace with a continuous sine wave running down one side. Also, according to IMDB, he worked as the sound editor on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain, but I don’t know if I knew that before or not.

Anyway, here’s the Naked Angels montage:

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