Everyone is familiar with Jack Nicholson’s Oscar-winning and -nominated performances, as well as his icon roles in beloved cult films. But less attention is bestowed on his early screen work – and many of these films only gained belated notice after Jack’s rise to superstardom. Today, we are honored to have the celebrated film historian James L. Neibaur, author of “The Essential Jack Nicholson,” to discuss the star’s earlier films, including his now-classic collaborations with Roger Corman and Monte Hellman.
Cinema Crazed prides itself in covering as many independent films as possible every year. We’re all sent a ton of short films and feature length films all year through email, and we do our best to cover every single one within a twelve month period. We all watched a myriad independent titles in 2016, some terrible, many quite good, and I narrowed my favorites down to five choices.
This list is no reflection on the other indie films I loved in 2016, this is merely a list of movies that really stuck out with me. Feel free to visit the A+ Indie section for many more independent movies Cinema Crazed loved.
And as always, if you want to see these movies, please buy them legally, where ever available. Buying them helps support the companies, and these filmmakers, and we just may be able to see even more movies from these talented artists somewhere down the road.
If there’s any band out there that deserves their own movie, it’s the Ramones. Allan Arkush’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” is a bonafide love letter to the punk juggernauts that ruled music in the seventies and eighties. While the movie is a genuine tribute to the band, even with them appearing constantly to perform some of their greatest hits, “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” is also a very funny and silly movie, to boot. It’s a kind of a parody of a teen high school comedy that would oddly become the norm in the eighties. It’s also kind of a satire of Roger Corman’s own teen oriented films that has the foresight to tackle punk rock over the then popular disco. “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” is way ahead of its time in satirizing a lot of cliches that would become the standard, including the snooty classmates, uptight teachers, and of course, the evil authority figure.
This is the story of 1994’s “Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four.”
Adapted from the iconic Marvel Comic, the film iteration was made on a measly budget of a million dollars with a joint venture by Fox, Marvel and Neue Constantin Films. After casting and initial filming was conducted, “The Fantastic Four” was a highly anticipated film covered in major magazines like Wizard and Film Threat. After a long tour of fan meetings and interviews with the press, the cast and crew learned that their hard work would result in a film that was cancelled by the studios and never to be released. Shortly after, the folks that took part in “The Fantastic Four” learned that, much to their horror, the film was never intended to ever be released. Worse, much of the struggles to conceive a fantastic cinematic vision in a decade bereft of epic comic book movies were merely to secure the rights for the comic book property and nothing more.
Scream Factory is back with another in the collection of growing Vincent Price movies. Offering part three in the series, there’s “Master of the World,” a movie based on the Jules Verne novels. It’s a science fiction drama that follows Price as Captain Robur, a mad inventor who kidnaps a team on a government expedition to investigate a crater in Pennsylvania. Robur’s focus is to build a massive war weapon and rule the world, and experiences obstacles along the way. This arouses some conflict about morality and power. Starring a young Charles Bronson this is an interesting film as written by Richard Matheson.
For the Mill Creek compilation “Scared Silly,” the company brings together the roots of horror comedy with a thirteen movie set that’s well worth the cash. Some of it is the same old material you’ll find in other collections, but considering the sub-genre, that’s nothing to sneeze at. On Disc One there’s 1961’s Creature from the Haunted Sea starring the googly eyed sea weed monster, as directed by Roger Corman. It’s a classic you can’t help but giggle through.
It’s amazing that in a movie that features a fifty foot cheerleader, the most far fetched and failed effect is the attempt to make Jena Sims look homely and ugly. That’s by no means a criticism, just an observation of a sorts. Sims is gorgeous, even with the wide spectacles they make her wear, and pasted on zits. She also often resembles Alicia Silverstone in certain lights. Roger Corman and director Kevin O’Neill assemble a pretty respectable cast for another iteration of “Attack of the 50 ft. Woman.” This time it’s a giant cheerleader who is gorgeous and mad as all hell.
Roger Corman’s contributions have been unmatched by most Hollywood directors, and sadly he’s become a mostly unappreciated presence in filmmaking. As viewed in “Corman’s World,” Roger Corman is one of the most ambitious but very money conscious filmmakers that’s managed to build an entire legacy out of creating entertainment on low budgets, while discovering some of the best filmmakers of all time. From giving Martin Scorsese and Peter Bogdonavich their breaks, to teaching Ron Howard how to direct around limited resources, Roger Corman has been a wizard of giving studios what they want, and doing it his way.