Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Masters Of Horror! (Roger Corman)

How to sum up Roger Corman?
Books have been written, documentaries have been made, all by smarter people than me.

Well...way I look at it, he's Lloyd Kaufman with luckier breaks.
But, Lloyd is catching up, so it's all good.

Anyway, his career is too huge for me to handle, so, there's the usual whittling down.
If you want the whole thing, check here, and here.

And now, the flicks.

Monster From The Ocean Floor (1954)

Produced by Corman.

That one eyed rubber octopus has become an icon; a replica even featured in Gallagher's act at one time.

Swamp Women (1955)

Directed by Corman.
His second film directed. His first, being the western "Five Guns West".

This was an MST3K episode, and one of the fifty worst films of all time, according to the book "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time".

Day The World Ended (1955)

The fourth film directed by Corman.

Nuclear holocaust, squabbling survivors, and a mutant.

Hmm, kind of a basic primitive prototype for the whole "survival horror", genre.

It Conquered The World (1956)

A pickle monster with mind control technology is bent on world domination.

More MST3K fodder.
In "The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide", Paul Chaplin wrote glowingly of its star, Beverly Garland, saying "..unfortunately, she's then eaten, but she goes down shooting, probably praying she'll get stuck in the bastard's throat, and choke him".

I think that says it all.

Not Of This Earth (1957)

Produced and directed by.

Kind of a low-rent "The Day The Earth Stood Still".

Beloved by those who are gourmets of schlock.

Attack Of The Crab Monsters (1957)

Ah, the neefty feefties, and its atomic monsters.

I kinda covered that whole cultural thing in "Baby-Boom Beastie Bash".

Anyway, these radioactive giant crabs don't just eat you, they absorb your intelligence.

Bit by bit, we see the pieces of "Alien", form.
Nothing happens all at once, everything evolves.

The Undead (1957)

See here.

Directed by Corman.

A Bucket Of Blood (1959)

A horror-comedy in the same vein as "Little Shop Of Horrors".
In fact, it has the same structure as "Little Shop".

About a guy, who kills things, covers them in clay, and sells them as sculptures.
Eventually, he builds up to people.
Before he's caught, he becomes an art sensation.

Much like Seymour, and the Audrey II.

Starring Dick Miller, who played Mr. Futterman in "Gremlins".

The Wasp Woman (1960)

Directed by Corman.

A low-rent "The Fly", knockoff, with a dig (intended or not) on the cosmetics industry, that transplants/updates just as well to plastic surgery junkies.

A woman uses wasp royal jelly as a skin restorer, and od's, and turns into a wasp-woman.

Cinematic Titanic, the re-incarnation of MST3K, did this one.

House Of Usher (1960)

Ah, there we go, the first of the Corman Edgar Allen Poe films, and his first one with Vincent Price.

Critics hate them, fans love them.

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

See here.

Corman's most famous horror-comedy.
And, another one with Dick Miller.

Boy meets girl, boy meets flesh eating plant, girl and plant compete for boy, plant wins.

Saw this on basic cable at my grandmother's house as a kid, and was genuinely horrified.
Not scared, horrified.
The first horror film to actually do that.
Upon immediate reflection, I dug that a movie could be crafted well enough to give me feeling, and have never looked back.

Creature From The Haunted Sea (1961)

Another horror-comedy, goofing on exactly the sort of film Corman started out doing.

However, the publicity took the film completely seriously, and no one got the joke.

A clip of the seaweed monster from this can be seen in the opening montage to "Malcolm In The Middle".

The Pit And The Pendulum (1961)

Another Corman-Poe-Price.

Also starring Barbara Steele from "Black Sunday".
('Nother Hyla shout-out ;-)).

This one's considered one of the best, if not the best, of the Poe cycle.

The Premature Burial (1962)

Third of the eight Poe cycle films.

No Vincent Price!!

Well, Ray Milland is no slouch, so...s'okay.

Tales Of Terror (1962)

Part four of the Poe cycle.

Price is back!!

Also, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone.

An anthology of three Poe tales.
Kind of a "Creepshow", prototype.
The tales are "Morella", a hybrid/mashup of" The Cask of Amontillado", and "The Black Cat", and thirdly, "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar".

The Raven (1963)


Poe cycle number five.
The best one.
Hands fuckin' down.
No fuckin' contest.

The whole post built to this.
We're done.
I'm done.
We need go no further.
Corman existed to make this movie.

Price, Lorre, Karloff, and a wizard battle that makes the wizard fights in LOTR, and Harry Potter look lame and boring.

Price at his coolest, Karloff at his coolest, Lorre at his funniest, it's just fucking perfect.

"The Avengers", of classic horror.

Oh...all right, I'll keep going...*pouts* *kicks the dirt*

The Terror (1963)

A documentary about the making of this would be far more interesting than the film itself.
The film is a torturous bore.

Stars Karloff, and Nicholson, when he was a fetus.

Often linked to the Poe cycle, it doesn't really count.
They just shot it on leftover sets from other Poe movies.

Corman shot the Karloff scenes in three days, then Francis Ford Coppola shot some more stuff for eleven days, and Jack Nicholson even directed some scenes.

The footage was a mess of puzzle pieces that didn't go together into anything that made sense, and editing the thing became a challenge with a money prize to young employees, and eventually, someone finally hammered the thing to a shape, and it was released.

So, shooting it, editing it, and watching it, was/is a terror.

The movie is its own curse.
It's the stuff of cinema legend.

The Haunted Palace (1963)

Part of the Poe cycle...but, again, not really.

The title is from a Poe poem, but the story is H.P. Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward".

Well, it's got Price, and Lon Cheney Jr., at least they got that right.

X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes (1963)

Fucking awesome, track it down, and watch it, right now.

Ray Milland develops eye-drops that give him x-ray vision that grows in power with continued use.
Mayhem and madness ensues.

Just. Fucking. Awesome.

One of those perfect movies.

Dementia 13 (1963)

Produced by Corman, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

One of the many people he helped discover.
Another of his lasting legacies.

Considered a mess, with everyone, but Coppola fans convincing themselves it's good.
But, you can't deny its historical importance.

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Seventh of the Poe cycle.

Based on the short story of the same name, with "Hop Frog", and "Torture By Hope", stirred in.

Pretty cool, but not "Raven", cool.

The Tomb of Ligeia (1965)

Eighth and final of the Poe cycle.

Consensus seems to be, good, but not "Red Death", good.

So, "Raven", is still the best.

The Trip (1967)

Directed by Corman, and written by Jack Nicholson.
Starring Peter Fonda, and Dennis hopper.

Corman researched how to re-create the trip experience on film by actually dropping acid.

This came out two years before "Easy Rider".

Yeah, it's non-horror, but I include it for it's historical importance, and curiosity factor.

Bloody Mama (1970)

Another non-horror, I threw it in here or shits n' giggles.

Directed by Corman, loosely based on the real story of Ma Barker.

One of Corman's favorites, I wasn't a fan.
The opening song alone is painful, and still haunts my nightmares.
I still think a double bill of this, and "The Projectionist", would kill a mothafucka.

The Dunwich Horror (1970)

Produced by Corman, based on the H.P. Lovecraft story of the same name.

Wow, a 1970's stab at the Cthulhu-verse, by Corman, starring Dean Stockwell??

You're goddamned right that's going on my to-watch list!!
Even if it sucks, it'll be cool!

Gas-s-s-s (1971)

Corman's last film for AIP, and his second to last directed for 20 years.

His final, would be "Von Richthofen and Brown", loosely based on the story of the real Red Baron.

This one is a dark comedy about the end of the world by a military gas-weapon leak that kills everyone on Earth over the age of 25.

Features Talia Shire as "Tally Coppola".

Sounds like fun!

Okay, so, with Corman done directing, I can afford to jump across the timeline more...

The Godfather Part II (1974)

Corman plays "Senator #2".

Death Race 2000 (1975)

See here, and here.

Produced by Corman.

Piranha (1978)

See here.

Yep, Joe Dante was another Corman protege.

Rock 'N' Roll High School (1979)

Ditto the above.
Including the link.

Starcrash (1979)

See here.

Battle Beyond The Stars (1980)


Galaxy Of Terror (1981)

Produced by Corman.
A cult classic.

With Ray Walson, and a young Robert Englund.

Production design by James Cameron, and influences from "Galaxy Of Terror", can be seen in "Aliens".

Famous for the scene where Taaffe O'Connell gets raped by a worm.

Show it to your kids today! (:-D

The Howling (1981)

See here, and here.

Corman plays "Man In Phone Booth".

Little Shop Of Horrors (1986)

The movie of the play of the original movie.
One of the greatest remakes ever.
No way I could leave this out.

Spoiler, the play has a sadder ending.
My high school did a performance of it that ended up on public access.

Munchies (1987)

Produced by Corman.

Made to cash in on "Gremlins".
Directed by the editor of "Gremlins".

If you didn't have this on the shelves of your local video store, you didn't have a local video store.

Not Of This Earth (1988)

Remake of the 1957 film.
Produced by Corman.

Traci Lords's first non-porno role.
Pretty sure every video store had a sun-faded copy of this too.

Frankenstein Unbound (1990)

See here.

Corman comes out of directorial retirement one last time.

Oh...I dunno, "Little Shop", and the Poe cycle are great....but this just might be his masterpiece.

He re-retired on a high note, that's for damned sure.

Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

See here, and here.

Corman plays FBI Director Hayden Burke.

Yep, Corman discovered Jonathan Demme too.
Every student of his that makes it big, he cameos in their movies.

Philadelphia (1993)

Another Jonathan Demme.

Corman plays Mr. Laird.

Carnosaur (1993)

Produced by Corman.

Cranked out to cash in on "Jurassic Park".
Effects by John Carl Buechler, who directed "Friday 7".
Total schlock.
But, it had similar buzz to "Sharknado", back in its day.
Followed by two terrible actual sequels, and one sorta-sequel.

Body Bags (1993)

See here, and here.

Corman plays Dr. Bregman.

Apollo 13 (1995)

Yep, Corman gave Ron Howard his directorial debut in "Grand Theft Auto".

Corman plays "Congressman".

Scream 3 (2000)

See here.

Corman plays "Studio Executive".

Looney Tunes: Back In Action (2003)

See here, and here.

Corman plays "Hollywood Director".

The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Corman plays "Secretary of State".

Death Race (2008)

Remake of the 1975 film.
Produced by Corman.

I include it just to bring everything all the way up to date.

And, that's a decent sized pie wedge, but nowhere near all of, Roger Corman.

But, enough to give you an idea, if you've managed somehow to never hear of him.
Or, to make you aware of more goodies if you're only passingly familiar.

Words can't encapsulate how important this man has been to cinema.
Let the films do it.
Watch them.

Tomorrow, Vincent Price.

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