Posts Tagged ‘Roger Corman

22
Oct
14

A Bucket of Blood (1959)

For day 19 of 31 Days of Horror, we decided to keep it Corman, only this time we watched one he actually directed: A Bucket of Blood. Starring Dick Miller as an aspiring artist, A Bucket of Blood takes a deep look into the underground world of the 1950’s beatnik. Okay, not really; it’s just a thoroughly silly but totally enjoyable exploitation flick.

It ain't easy being an artist, man...

It ain’t easy being an artist, man…

Walter Paisley (Miller) is a broke-ass busboy at The Yellow Door, the hip hangout for all the local beatniks. Poets, musicians, painters, sculptors, you name it: they all hang here, man. Sometimes, Walter gets a little too wrapped up in the poets’ pondering and forgets to bus the coffee cups. His boss Leonard is always on his ass about it. Carla, Leonard’s girlfriend/business partner/something is less tough on Walter, which may be why he harbors a devastating crush on her.

Anyway, another tough night at The Yellow Door is over, and Walter comes home to a can of cold beans and a screeching cat. But tonight is slightly different than most nights, because he’s also come home to a virgin package of clay, just waiting for his talentless hands to mold it into art. Unfortunately, Walter quickly discovers that he’s no artist at all. In his frustration, he blindly stabs at the wall in his apartment, accidentally killing the kindly cat he and his landlady care for. Suddenly Walter thinks of a great way to use all that clay he just got…

What lies beneath Walter's Art?

What lies beneath Walter’s Art?

Having created a wonderful masterpiece out of clay and cat corpse, Walter excitedly brings his art to The Yellow Door. Leonard is suspicious of the piece, but Carla just loves it and so they put it on display. Suddenly, the Beats start seeing Walter in a different light; they have real conversations with him instead of just asking him to take away their dirty dishes! But Leonard won’t be convinced until he creates another work of art, and that’s when the real carnage begins.

A Bucket of Blood is a short and sweet little exploitation horror movie. Its jabs at beat poetry are hilarious and spot-on; “Life is an obscure hobo bumming a ride on the omnibus of Art” Maxwell, one of The Yellow Door’s resident poets bellows. Walter takes those words, and everything else the artists utter, to heart. As he slathers clay onto his dead victims, he mutters the words verbatim. He wants so badly to be one of them, he goes to lethal lengths to achieve what they would consider greatness. And who wouldn’t want to graduate from forgotten busboy to revered artist?

I honestly don’t think a film like this would accidentally fall into the wrong hands. If you’ve rented or bought A Bucket

Walter is King of the Yellow Door!

Walter is King of the Yellow Door!

of Blood the chances are you know exactly what you’re in for: a silly little horror flick. That being said, it is a tad smarter than I’d usually expect out of such films, and that makes it all the more enjoyable. On top of all that, Dick Miller is so much fun to watch as Walter! Poor Walter just does not get it; he doesn’t understand what talent is, what art is, and hell, why would he when all he does is watch talentless, navel-gazing hacks stroke each-others’ egos?

Anyway, if this sounds like your bag, dig it, man. It is bad. Unlike Walter’s art, it knows it’s bad. And it is so damn good at being bad. Thank you, Mr. Corman.

22
Oct
14

The Dunwich Horror (1970)

For Day 18 of 31 Days of Horror, I finally broke the seal on The Dunwich Horror. Roger Corman, Dean Stockwell, Sandra Dee, Ed Begley, the Necronomicon, psychedelic nightmares, satanic impregnation and bulging eyes aplenty, this movie is pretty damn amazing. Again I have to wonder: what took me so long? Fans of Lovecraft will be disappointed with this loose interpretation of one of his stories, which I suspect is why so many people seem to hate this movie. Having never read a lick of Lovecraft myself, I am more than content with the psychedelic smear Corman brings to the screen in this film.

Dean Stockwell wants you to watch The Dunwich Horror. Don't you?

Dean Stockwell wants you to watch The Dunwich Horror. Don’t you?

It’s just another normal day at Miskatonic University; local coeds Nancy Wagner (Sandra Dee) and Elizabeth Hamilton are finishing up at the library, casually putting the Necronomicon back in its glass case. Out of nowhere, a handsome man with compelling eyes, curly hair and what must be a fake mustache (right?) walks up to them requesting to see the book… just for a few minutes, he promises. Elizabeth outright refuses, but there’s something about this man’s eyes Nancy can’t resist, and she allows him to take the book. When their professor, Dr. Henry Armitage (Ed Begley) discovers the book is not where it should be, he is rightly concerned and promptly goes over to the young man, demanding he return it. But his anger turns into joy when he discovers the young man interested in one of the world’s most powerful books is none other than Wilbur Whateley, the youngest in a family known for their connection to the book, among other things…

Nancy's psychedelic dream bed. Do they sell those at Ikea?

Nancy’s psychedelic dream bed. Do they sell those at Ikea?

It seems as though Nancy has no control over herself when she is with Wilbur, so when he misses the last bus back home, she insists on giving him a ride. Though Nancy intends to return home after dropping Wilbur off, it seems he has other plans, and he convinces her to stay for tea and take a rest before getting back on the road. Of course, Wilbur has more than just tea in mind; after drugging her and ripping vital parts of her engine out of her car, he can now be sure that she will stay the night, if not forever… mwahahahaha!

More psychedelic nightmares... nothing scarier than primal, painted humans, right?

More psychedelic nightmares… nothing scarier than primal, painted humans, right?

Though there are a host of very strange things going on (Wilbur’s grandfather, a crazed old man always spouting nonsense; the locked door upstairs Nancy is forbidden to explore; the hallucinations; the hatred the locals have for the entire Whateley family), Nancy is too drugged-up and entranced to give any of them a second thought. Elizabeth and Dr. Armitage come looking for her, but she sends them away saying she is staying the weekend with Wilbur. Everything is going as Wilbur had planned, now if he can just get his hands on that Necronomicon, his plans for the return of the “Old Ones” will finally come to fruition.

Nancy at the altar of the Old Ones.

Nancy at the altar of the Old Ones.

Don’t go into The Dunwich Horror expecting a faithful Lovecraftian horror adaptation. This is Roger Corman we’re talking about; this is all psychedelic hallucination and exploitation, and it is god damn glorious, people. I am pretty certain there are no legitimate scares in this film, and there are plot-holes-aplenty, but that’s part of what makes this such a joy to watch. Everyone hams it up here, but Dean Stockwell is just the best! There is no subtlety to his grand gestures and bulging eyes, but with a mustache like that, who would have expected subtlety? When he’s calling the Old Ones to Earth, he holds his hands up to his cheeks exposing his wonderful pinky rings for the whole world to see. It is just fantastic.

Dean Stockwell will be upset if you don't watch The Dunwich Horror!

Dean Stockwell will be upset if you don’t watch The Dunwich Horror!

But maybe even better than Stockwell’s performance are the psychedelic scenes, where we get a vague sense of monstrous beings and writhing primitive human bodies, but never a full picture of what this “horror” actually is. It is unfortunately difficult to capture this in a still; it works best in motion. These scenes definitely make the movie unique and are the most fun to watch: flashes of light interspersed with action seemingly from another dimension; hell yes! What better way to make up for a low budget than just confusing the hell out of your audience with shit like this? I love it.

I don't even know. I don't even care. Is that Zardoz?

I don’t even know. I don’t even care. Is that Zardoz?

The bottom line is, if you are the type of person who prefers a coherent plot and legitimate scares in your horror movies, you aren’t going to like The Dunwich Horror. Instead, what Dunwich offers is ham, style and psychedelia, which I will take over substance any day of the week. If you go in knowing what to expect, this movie will offer you the perfect thrill a horror flick should.

27
Feb
14

Hollywood Boulevard (1976)

Makin' movies

Makin’ movies

Writing about mediocre movies is an awful lot like being constipated. At least when a movie’s awful, opinions come out like… well, they come out easily, okay? Trying to figure out what the heck to write about Roger Corman’s Hollywood Boulevard makes me want to reach for the closest enema. 

When we starting watching, I thought Hollywood Boulevard was the perfect movie for the night. After all, a stupid comedy about low-budget films with plenty of T&A is more often than not just what the doctor ordered, no? Alas, these elements alone aren’t enough to make a film enjoyable. Admittedly, I should know this by now; this isn’t the first time Corman’s boobs have let me down. Yet I keep coming back for more… 

Erich Von Leppe (Paul Bartel) is the director du jour for Miracle Pictures (If it’s a good film, it’s a Miracle!),

Findin' suckers

Findin’ suckers

one of Hollywood’s many sub-par, low-budget production companies happy to capitalize on the tenacity, persistence and large breasts of Hollywood’s many aspiring starlets. Candy Wednesday is just such a wide-eyed young woman, and soon after she arrives in LA her attentive agent Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) gets her a gig in Von Leppe’s Machete Maidens of Mora Tau

While filming in the Philippines, Wednesday and the other young women have more than lascivious natives and machine guns to worry about. The “star” of the film, Mary McQueen (Mary Woronov) is jealous, vindictive and willing to do just about anything to make sure no one steals the spotlight from her! Is she to blame when Jill, one of the younger actresses, is accidentally shot during an action scene, or is there another lunatic on the loose? 

Casting!

Casting!

Well, the answer is, really: who cares? Hollywood Boulevard is kind of like a joke that made you chuckle the first time you heard it, maybe made you smirk the second time, and had you rolling your eyes by the third time. The first fifteen minutes aren’t bad, but then everything goes slightly downhill. It doesn’t really fail in exciting ways, it just kind of fails quietly. By the time it was over, I think I said something like: “Well, that was a… movie… and what’s with all the rape jokes?”

Hollywood Boulevard is really a disappointment more than anything else, especially given the usual dynamic duo of Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov. Though they can’t make this a good movie, they’re probably the best parts about it. The good news is, if you hate waiting for boobs, you’ll have no problem here: you see your first pair before the one-minute mark! 

 

10
Dec
13

Death Race 2000 (1975)

America's sweetheart, Frankenstein

America’s sweetheart, Frankenstein

In a lot of ways, Death Race 2000 is my ideal movie. It’s got science fiction, horror, comedy and camp. While definitely not the first cocktail of its kind, it might be one of the first to do it so perfectly. It might be one of the best examples of a movie exploiting exploitation.

I guess a little back story might be in order, so I will relay to you what my husband told me, which is something along the lines of: Roger Corman wanted a gory action science-fiction flick, and director Paul Bartel wanted something goofy, campy and self-aware.

If you ask me, Bartel wins in the end, and thank gods! The final product, apparently hacked and re-

Mary Woronov as Calamity Jane

Mary Woronov as Calamity Jane

hacked in Corman’s interests, is still most definitely heavy on the campy goofiness we’ve come to rely on Paul Bartel for, and frankly, what we’ve come to rely on Corman for, too.

Anyway, the movie is just about what you’d expect from a flick titled Death Race 2000: it’s a dystopian future, and it’s time for the annual Transcontinental Road Race, where participants are followed by camera crews as they drive race cars through the American landscape and take out innocent bystanders along the way.

What starts off as a typically bloody annual celebration of the new America’s moral nadir quickly turns into a different kind of scandal: a revolutionary group has infiltrated the race, and young Annie has been sent along to destroy America’s

And of course, Sly.

And of course, Sly.

favorite racer, Frankenstein (David Carradine, hubba hubba!). Will the resistance succeed in overthrowing the corrupt government?

This movie is just so darn wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am excited to watch it again. I mean, really, the only way to watch a race car movie is by laying on the camp pretty thick and making the blood Herschell-Gordon-Lewis red. And by having Sylvester Stallone play a really dumb guy. And Mary Woronov playing a chick called Calamity Jane! And David Carradine in a latex body suit?! So many reasons to say yes.




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