Friday, April 6, 2012

A Fistful of Happy Birthday, Roger Corman!

Yesterday marked the 86th Birthday of the man commonly refereed to as "The King of the B's" but as anyone who's seen the recent documentary Corman's World knows, that's a title that never settled well with the man himself.  Personally, what I love about all...well, most of--uh, several of the movies directed or produced by Roger Corman is his go-for-it willpower driven cinema.  The movies don't have the talent or the money but they've got a concept and they drive it home to the best of their abilities.  A lot of dogs are born, but there are some serious gems to be celebrated.  

But for this week's Fistful, instead of championing my all time favorite Corman flicks (you can see those over at cineAWESOME! where I gushed during one of last year's Top 7 Tuesdays), I thought I would list the films I'm still dying to see.  For the last couple of years I've been obsessing over Corman and these are the handful of flicks I have yet to track down.  And I just know there's gold to be found here.

5.  Piranha II: The Spawning:  After contributing some second unit work for Corman's Galaxy of Terror, James Cameron was given the reins to this flying fish sequel to the Joe Dante semi-classic.  I love the first film, and as much as I loathe recent efforts like Avatar & Titanic, you can't help but geek out over The Terminator and Aliens.  But somehow I've managed to avoid the Piranha sequel.  Need to fix that.  Plus, this is the film that first partnered Cameron with Lance Henriksen, who plays the Jaws-like police chief on the hunt.  Netflix apparently has a cheap dvd, but I'd kinda like to see a transfer of some quality.  A pipe dream probably.  

4.  Sorceress:  Not to be confused with The Warrior & The Sorceress or Sorcerer.  The first time I saw the trailer for this film was on the Alamo Drafthouse edition of 42nd Street Forever and it blew my mind.  A couple of Playmate Twin Warriors battle it out with a satyr, a not quite Chimera-not quite Griffin Lion Monster, and boobs, boob, boobs!  It looks bonkers and I must have it.  Seriously, get this thing on DVD Shout Factory!

3.  It Conquered The World:  I've actually seen this a long time ago, but it was wonderfully interrupted by the MST3K geniuses.  But now that I've developed a proper taste for Corman I want to experience this rubber creature feature pure.  Peter Graves and Lee Van Cleef lure It from the planet Venus and Alien Hell follows.  Include Corman regulars Jonathan Haze and Dick Miller and you've got some serious cheezy potential.  This has been on crappy DVD before but I want a cheap Film Chest blu ray like last year's The Terror.

2.  Machine Gun Kelly:  Not currently available on blu ray or dvd, I did just discover seconds ago that the whole film is up on YouTube and I am going to watch it the very second I finish with this post.  As a  child of the 1980s, Charles Bronson's Death Wish franchise was incredibly important with instilling an unhealthy amount of fear about the big city.  I remember when we first moved to the outskirts of Washington DC, I was deathly afraid of venturing into the Capitol because that's where the gangs were--that's where Jeff Goldblum's rapist stalked the streets!  Hmmmm...Death Wish was probably not the best movies for a ten year old to watch, I guess.  But it did introduce me to the badass that is Charles Bronson and I devoured several of his films as a result of that fear; I needed him to get my back.  Mr. Majestyk (which also introduced me to Elmore Leonard).  Once Upon A Time In The West.  Hard Times.  10 To Midnight.  Murphy's Law.  But I've never seen this biopic.  Can't wait to correct that.  Should be a good companion piece to other Corman gangster flicks like The St. Valentine's Day Massacre and Capone.

1.  Apache Woman:  As far as I'm concerned this is the Holy Grail of Corman films.  I've been trying to track down a copy for years and it doesn't appear to be available in any format, bootleg or legit.  The film stars Lloyd Bridges and Joan Taylor, but the real desire to see this flick comes from the fact that it's Dick Miller's first.  As you should all know by now, both Matt & I are great admirers of Miller and we grew up fascinated by his short terms in The Howling, The Terminator, Gremlins, and Explorers.  Not to mention his starring role as beatnik wannabe Walter Paisley in my all time favorite Roger Corman effort, Bucket of Blood (which Matt still hasn't seen and you should all get on his case about that).  For Apache Woman he plays not one, but two roles: the Indian Tall Tree & the cowboy Ed.  And, SPOILER ALERT, apparently one Miller kills the other in the climactic shootout.  That's just something all cinephiles should see.  So please, if anyone out there in Internetland knows of a copy, send it my way.


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