Sunday, 15 April 2012



One of a number of recent documentaries celebrating and cheerleading the trashier side of cinema: Going To Pieces (about slasher movies), Not Quite Hollywood (Australian exploitation films), Machete Maidens Unleashed! (which looked at the Filipino exploitation industry) among others concerning the video nasties, or individual films and franchises. Devoted to the films of Roger Corman, this perhaps has more A-list heavyweights than the other docs - interviewees include Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, Jonathan Demme and Ron Howard - but also a string of lurid and ludicrous clips from everything from his early efforts such as Apache Woman and Monster From The Ocean Floor right up to modern SyFy productions like Dinoshark. (I have this last film on DVD: I won it at a quiz last Christmas but, shamefully, I have yet to open it.)

Corman's World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel covers a good chunk of the man's output, though with 401 production credits on his IMDb page many of his films obviously don't even get a mention. Starting off with his cheapie quickies such as The Cry Baby Killer (which was the screen debut of Jack Nicholson), Bucket Of Blood and The Little Shop Of Horrors, it includes the gorgeous Edgar Allan Poe movies, the Filipino exploitationers and the racist-bashing The Intruder, yet unaccountably omits any mention of later offerings like Galaxy Of Terror, Forbidden World or the Deathstalker films. Almost his entire 1980s output is glossed over for some reason. And even in his mid-eighties, he's still going.

Loads of talking heads, both those he's worked with (Dick Miller, Joe Dante, Penelope Spheeris) and younger filmmakers he's supposedly influenced (Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino) provide a wealth of anecdotes and stories. But it's the clips that give the greatest pleasures and, just as Not Quite Hollywood made me want to see all those Australian exploitation films again (and crucually Machete Maidens Unleashed! failed to instil a desire to watch rubbishy old Filipino gore movies), Corman's World makes me want to see Piranha and The Tomb Of Ligeia, Hollywood Boulevard and even Attack Of The Crab Monsters again. To be honest I'd have happily sat through another hour's worth, with more detail about specific movies and how they were made with such absurdly low budgets, but overall this is a highly enjoyable and fascinating voyage through Corman's history, and cinema's history. We shall not see his like again.


Not Of This Earth:

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