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.
From Mill Creek Entertainment comes a twelve movie pack of some of the most interesting titles out there for purchase. Every year, there’s a new set with these movies, but as I always say: These packs are good for horror fans starting a collection and looking to get more for their bucks. “Don’t Answer the Phone” is the 1980 thriller about a Vietnam veteran taunting a radio show host as he describes his violent experiences with women and begins stalking her.
“Death Race 2000” is notable, not only for being one of the best cult action films ever made, but for the amazing foresight it showed in being one of the many fictional tales predicting the entertainment of the twenty first century. Sure, video game violence and reality television were established before the twenty first century, but it didn’t become prevalent and common until much later, when the extremes for entertainment were established as norms for amusement. “Death Race 2000” is a prophetic and darkly genius action thriller that pinpoints the very nature of human illness and how we view violence as nothing more than a mortal hurdle we can ignore in the face of rewards.
Only in a Roger Corman inspired film can you see a super villain who is asthmatic and base their entire gimmick around being asthmatic. But that comes with the territory with this mid-nineties made for Showtime Television movie that I fondly recall re-watching over and over. If only for the brief nudity. But in reality I would have watched anything with superheroes and “Black Scorpion” was right up my alley as a blossoming movie buff showing love for the cult. This Batman-esque trashy crime thriller stars the sexy Joan Severance as Darcy Walker, a cop born and raised who has had enough of the law. Especially when her dad is mysteriously killed by a town politician in cold blood before her eyes.
Say whatever you want about 1994’s guilty pleasure “The Fantastic Four” but I’ll take it any day over the god awful big budget films released in 2005 by director Tim Story. There may not be much of a budget to draw on, but at least there’s Dr. Doom in all of his glory and much of what made the comics so readable back in the early nineties. Plus, while much of it is generally in line with the kid friendly tone of the big budget films, director Oley Sassone opts for a darker tone that works much more than the big budget successors in the next decade.
However the huge compendium of Roer Corman’s massive body of work, “Roger Corman: Metaphysics on a Shoestring” has steadily convinced me that I’ve missed out on someone of great importance. I understood Corman’s legacy, and importance, and his great influence on film since he began making films, but I was never one who followed him as a fan would. What Silver and Ursini have done is give folks like me a reason to gain interest into the body of the work of Roger Corman. Anyone who still has a stigma of him as a man who made bad films would be better off to read this book that’s an encyclopedia, an analyses of Corman’s work, and a biography all rolled into one. It’s the perfect tool for anyone seeking a new interest in Corman’s unique filmography.