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Reviewing The Roger Corman Collection

By Coolia and Nerdia

I've always enjoyed seeing Roger Corman speak on shows like Dinner for Five. And I thought Piranha was very funny in its badness. And I appreciate Corman's star-finding producer's radar. But I was disappointed in these movies. They seemed, as a group, to be an attempt to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. -Nerdia

The collection is a little uneven, but with one exception (Beach Balls) always entertaining. The Roger Corman Film School has honed the talents of some of our greatest movie makers from Coppola to Nicholson to Howard to De Niro to Demme. It would be fun if they offered this collection like a Time Life series where you got a new DVD in the mail each month. - Coolia


Beach Balls

Easily, this movie was the worst of the Corman bunch. The cover promised a juvenile but sexy Porky's-style romp of a comedy. Is that so hard to pull off? I guess so, because in this 80s movie we saw no tits, ass or comedy. In fact, the movie was half-assed in every way. The script was juvenile (and ridiculous), very unfunny in every attempt and the production values were the worst I've ever seen save from an unprofessional independent movie. Bad angles, bad lighting, bad cuts. I could have made a better movie than this, and I have absolutely no movie-making skillz. This movie is an insult to struggling independent film makers everywhere. - Nerdia

Agreed. There was even bad dubbed-in audio in several scenes, and nary a laugh. The disc has no extras - not that we would want any. - Coolia



Like Beach Balls , this movie was based on a ridiculous plot but it had a ridiculous monster in it too, and I don't know why, but somehow that can carry an otherwise crappy movie. Somehow this element makes a monster movie humorous and fun to watch. But don't expect anything to make sense. Spoiler alert - be prepared for the death of a likeable kid character which doesn't happen everyday. The lead characters are impossible to root for and the monster looks cheap, cheap, cheap. - Nerdia

This reminded me of Piranha, one of my favorite Corman films, since an evil science corporation was to blame for creating the mutant DinoCroc, just as an evil science corporation released the piranha into the lake. As Nerdia points out, the characters are unappealing, so you don't really care if the DinoCroc eats them or not. We only glimpses bits of the monster for the first half of the movie, and it might have been more effective if we never glimpsed its utter fakeness in its entirety. The ending leaves room for a sequel, just as Piranha beget the James Cameron-helmed Piranha II: The Spawning. - Coolia

The Cry Baby Killer

Of the Corman movies I watched, this one was my favorite. I enjoyed seeing Jack Nicholson in his first movie – a melodramatic but charismatic performance in a slow but atmospheric black and white movie about a man who was more of a circumstantial killer than a born psycho. - Nerdia

As a longtime Jack Nicholson fan, I had always been curious to see this movie, which had long been out of print. It's only 60 minutes long, and it's basically a typical juvenile delinquent movie of the time. I can't say Jack demonstrates a ton of star power, but he does express anxiety and teen angst effectively. I love the jazzy theme song "Cry baby baby...cry cry cry." We often sing this around the Ape Culture office park now. This DVD also features The Little Shop of Horrors, a film from a few years later in which Jack would make a bigger impression as the masochistic dental patient. That's an example where you can look at a cameo and see a star being born. -Coolia


Rock 'N' Roll High School

I had seen this movie when I was in high school and into The Ramones, but I found I didn't remember much of it when I watched it this time around. As I watched quirky PJ Soles as Riff Randle, leading a rock rebellion, I found myself wondering why she didn't become a bigger star. She's got a real likable girl next door quality and great energy. Paul Bartel has a small role as a music teacher who discovers his inner punk, and the Ramones appear as themselves, faring better in their musical scenes than when they are required to read lines. The movie is great fun and the DVD has some good extras, including a "looking back" featurette with interviews with the director Allen Arkush, Clint Howard, and Mary Woronov. It was funny to learn that Roger wanted the movie to be called "Disco High", and the director and writer tried to hide their rock intentions from him. There are also two commentary tracks featuring Corman, Woronov, and Arkush, and some footage of the Ramones practicing for the concert scene. - Coolia


Death Race 2000

I loved this movie! The film starts David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone as rival drivers in a cross-country, no holds barred car race. The drivers gain points for killing pedestrians along the way. Directed by the outrageous Paul Bartel, the movie is a hilarious satire that seems very fresh today, even if it does depict the year 2000 as the future. The crowd's blood lust mirrors that of any crowd at the Ultimate Fighting Championships. There is also interesting commentary on the cult of celebrity, with Paul Bartel's sister in a small role as a devoted fan of Carradine's who wants to be a human sacrifice to aid in his quest for victory. The film has all the best of the Corman world - campiness, humor, cheesy production values, and spirit. And the DVD includes some extras, such as a "looking back" featurette and commentary with Corman and Woronov. - Coolia


Want more Corman? Visit The Corman Cult where you can learn more about these special edition DVDs and commune with other fans.

Go here to send a Roger Corman ecard.

What's your favorite Corman movie? Leave your comments on these and other Corman films here


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