Roger Corman: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)

One from the re watch pile…

Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)

Film: I sometimes wonder if when the Lumière brothers stood on the shoulders of Thomas Edison and William Dickson and created their wonderful Cinématographe machine if they ever sat down and discussed the wonders of what their creation may hold in the future.

‘I imagine one day a man will make a film about an Island of Fishmen!’

‘I imagine one day someone will make a film called ‘ Dinoshark’!’

‘I imagine one day someone will adapt the work of Edgar Allen Poe into a series of films!’

‘I imagine one day a man will make a film with a spaceship in it that has boobs on it!’

‘I imagine one day a man will make all those films, and write/ produce/ star in many many more!’

‘Oh Auguste, don’t be ridiculous: one man could never do all that in one lifetime!!’

Well, one man did, and continues to do so! Roger Corman would have to be the most important man in the history of cinema. He is certainly a rebel before his time who has not only nurtured such talents as Ron Howard, Jonathon Demme, Joe Dante, Jack Nicolson, Martian Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich and many others, he’s also been at the forefront of effects development, expediency of production (both time and money wise) and just the ability to show that any story, if made cheap enough, can be a financial success… and DAMN the critics. Audiences and critics want different things from cinema!

I believe that B movie fans like myself are generally Corman fans before they realise that Corman exists. I know my youth was spent looking at Famous Monsters and watching late night creature features, a lot which have probably disappeared from my memory through the eons I’ve been alive, so I must have really experienced his work around this time. For certain though, I definitely know I watched Battle Beyond the Stars, and even as a kid knew it was a cheap seats version of Star Wars, but Sybil Danning…. sigh!

It wasn’t until my Fangoria years in the 80s that I really realised what a spectacular output Corman was responsible for, and here, with the documentary Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, we get to see just why his influence on the movie industry is a unique and important one.

Written and directed by Alex Stapleton, who reviewed two important nominations for this film, one the Golden Camera at Cannes and the other a Rondo Hatten Classic Horror Award, this film looks at Corman’s history, the amazing successes he’s had over the years, and the daring steps he took into all different areas of production, direction, distribution and even sociological ideals which may not have always been wholly acceptable by the moral majority.

This film is a concise look at an amazing career, that still continues today, and with the absolute catalogue of talent interviewed here, we get a look at what Corman did for so many people in Hollywood, even if that just meant them finding out exactly what they WOULDN’T want to do as far as production is concerned.

Highly recommended.

Score: *****

Format: This film was reviewed on the UK Bluray release which runs for approximately 90 minutes. For the most part, the image is excellent and presented in 1.78:1 but that occasionally changes depending on the historical footage shown. The audio is a matching quality DTS-HD 5.1.

Score: ****1/2

Extras: There is a pretty cool bunch of extras on this disc:

Extended Interviews takes all the stuff that didn’t make the cut to the film but still had interesting stories to tell.

Special Messages to Roger is a nice collection of tributes to Corman from his contemporaries, acolytes, apprentices and dilettantes. Some are heartfelt, some funny, but all seem to be genuine!

There is also a trailer for the film. Nicholson’s comment from the film,’ by mistake, he made a good picture every once in a while’ should have been the Tagline to the whole thing, and it’s quoted here.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: I actually love film documentaries almost as much as I love movies, and this is one I watch regularly.


Supervixens (1975) 

One from the re watch pile…
Supervixens (1975)

The cover of the UK DVD release

Film: I had read about soft-core porn filmmaker Russ Meyer long before I had ever seen any of his films. I remember seeing the image of a gigantic pair of boobs hanging from out the front of a cinema in Sydney in a magazine called Shocking Cinema which contained that particular image, with a small write up, within a ‘sealed’ section.

Just through magazine I read, and shops I frequented, like Land Beyond Beyond in Sydney, I became a little obsessed with Meyer though the opportunity to see any of his stuff didn’t become available to me until I managed to get my hands on a few releases Madman in Australia did on DVD a few years ago, and since then I’ve grabbed everything that Arrow Films in the UK have available, and have accumulated several books on the subject of Mr Meyer, including his experiences documenting WWII , as well as a photographer for Playboy in the early days.

The focus of Meyer’s movies are the female form, and the bustier the better! There are certain male attributes that are generally enhanced too when the opportunity arises for a peek though. His films are no doubt soft core porn, but there’s no ‘I’ve come to clean ze pool’ stuff in his work: no, these are articulate, rural black comedies that if you don’t just fast forward to the nudity, or turn them of when you have… um… ‘finished’, you’ll get a lot out of them

His movies are spectacularly weird too and he has been called the ‘Rural Fellini’, insomuch that his films merge fantasy, not just sexual but metaphysical and supernatural within the rural environments, like farming communities and small towns.

Supervixens is no variation on that.

Clint Ramsey (Charles Pitt) getting down and dirty

Poor Clint Ramsey (Charles Pitts) has a problem: his woman, Superangel (Shari Eubanks) is a suspicious, high-maintenance, voluptuous woman whose sexual appetite and penchant for violence is making his life a living Hell, even though she is a gorgeous.

After a particularly horrible argument, Supervixen calls the police, who send police officer Harry Sledge (Charles Napier). He quickly proves to be her undoing when he murders her after she tries similar shenanigans on him when he fails to satisfy her her in bed.

The titular Supervixen.

Sledge murders her and places the blame square in Clint’s lap, which puts him on a trip across country, evading the law and somehow ending up pursued by every horny, busty woman he …ahem… comes across, but will Sledge catch up with him?

This movie is heaps of fun and has some bizarre scenes that somehow make plenty of sense within Meyer’s eye. He has this amazing sense of cinematic style with the camera that once you see past the statuesque figures on screen, you really see a man who is totally in control of his craft. His previous occupation as a photographer is clear in the amazing way he frames his scenes.

The women in this film aren’t the only amazing thing within the camera’s eye: the locations are desolate and the heat of the desert is almost palpable.

I really love this movie, and though you probably should start any Meyer adventure with either Vixen or Faster Pussycat! Kill! KILL!, you really can’t pass this up.

Score: ****

The UK DVD menu screen

Format: Supervixens was reviewed using the U.K. Arrow Films DVD release which is presented in an ok 4:3 image with a pretty clear 2.0 audio. The image is a little artefacty at times but not to the detriment of the entire image.

Score: ****

Extras: Only two extras on this disc, but both are as entertaining as hell.

First there is an amazing commentary with director Russ Meyer where he doesn’t just tell amusing stories about the making of this film, but also interesting reflections of his life. 
Next, we have a trailer reel of Meyer’s films: Faster Pussycat! Kill! KILL!, Blacksnake, Mudhoney, Vixen, Wild Gals of the Naked West, Supervixens, Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens, Cherry, Harry & Raquel and Common-Law Cabin.

Honestly Meyer’s trailers are the best ever made, not just because of the beautiful stars, but also due to the absolute Sideshow Huckster, P.T. Barnham styled voiceovers which deliver the hard sell like never before.

Score: ***

WISIA: It’s a funny, sometimes silly and occasionally violent piece of classic Meyer cheese: not for family viewing but I watch it when I can.

Harry Sledge (Charles Napier) looks back at future victims.

R. I. P. Herschell Gordon Lewis

It’s one of those days when you know as soon as you wake up that the rest of the day is going to suck.
The first thing on all of my various news feeds today was that of the passing of filmmaker, Herschell Gordon (H. G.) Lewis, aged 87.

H. G. Lewis

H.G. Lewis started in cinema producing exploitation and nudie cuties, like Goldilocks and the Three Bares and The Adventures of Lucky Pierre, soon turning to horror, making violent and bloody films like Blood Feast and The Wizard of Gore; films which earned him the title of The Godfather of Gore.
His first film career went from 1961 to1972, after which he started a new career in advertising in which he wrote many books on the subject.

In 2002 he returned to filmmaking with Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat and worked in and around the production of films until his death.

My first exposure to Lewis was with novelisations of 2,000 Maniacs and Blood Feast, but I didn’t actually get to see any of his films until the early 2000s when I first picked up DVD releases from Something Weird Video and I was immediately hooked. His films have an odd innocence that films of the 60s feel like they have mixed with a touch of nudity and a bucket of blood and guts.
Something Weird Video also have an excellent documentary about him that I can’t recommend enough. This, and his other films are available here!

H. G. Lewis documentary

R. I. P. Mr. Lewis, thanks for making us gorehounds!