Friday, September 18, 2009

God Bless Roger Corman and the Ground He Walks Upon! Hallelujah, and AMEN!

A couple of summers ago, my wife went to bed with Roger Corman practically every night.

The Missus often needs some background noise to sleep to, and Corman’s audio commentary on films like The Trip or a few of the Poe flicks is her catnip.

Put on a Corman commentary, and my sweetie’s just driffffffting away.

If you’ve heard the legendary filmmaker’s dulcet tones, you know what I’m talking about:
Corman’s voice is like audio laudanum, velvet smooth grandpa tones that comfort yet always fascinate.
Never boring, just so very, very soooothing.
What’s he saying?
Mmmmm….Doesn’t really matter…it’s one of the best drugs around…

(BTW, I met Corman when I was a kid and he was a really nice guy, taking the time to talk to nearly all the fans pestering him. He seemed quite genuine and appreciative that we’d spend our money on his product.)

Speaking of Corman’s commentaries:

I’m wishing that Attack of the Crab Monsters’ current unavailability is a result of a new DVD being created (as opposed to legal hassles), perhaps remastered with a Corman audio commentary track? The movie’s only about an hour long—it would be easy to do! Please? I’ll even buy it with real money!

The commentary for Death Race 2000 didn’t work for The Missus because Corman shared it with cult icon Mary Woronov, who played Calamity Jane in the flick.
While it’s a good commentary for all fans of the movie, and very informative--it just didn’t work for
She Who Must Be Obeyed.

If you’ve never experienced the liquid gold that is the sound of Mack Daddy Roger C.’s voice (and don’t have one of his DVD commentaries handy), there’s an awesome interview with him at DVD Talk;
listen and fall into Corman’s vocal web!
(Don’t worry, kid. The first one’s free—you won’t get hooked!)

So, as you might have guessed, The United Provinces of Ivanlandia considers Roger Corman to be a god among men, and admire his many achievements.

He has made one of my honestly-genuinely Top Ten favorite flicks:
The aforementioned Etc. of the Crab Monsters (Ivanlandia megapost forthcoming, promise!), as well as many other faves:

The Wild Angels (1966)

The Raven (1963)

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

The Intruder (1961)

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967)

The Day the World Ended (1955)

Von Richthofen and Brown (1971)

The Haunted Palace (1963)

And so many more…(and that’s not counting the gazillion films he’s produced!)

Why do I like his films—or at least the above films?
(Because not everything the great man has done is perfect….)

I’d say that they were
Intelligent Entertainment

Well-balanced: high- and low-brow with a sick sense of humor

Using innovation to overcome financial limitations

The triumph of the imagination (in how the films were made)

They appeal to my brain and my gutz


Cutting edge/ripped from the headlines

Willfully exploitative!

Politics and mayhem!




Genre madness!

New World Pictures!

At Slash Film, Russ Fischer writes:
“There isn’t a genre filmmaker working today who hasn’t been influenced by Corman, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any major US director who hasn’t been influenced by him in some manner.”

Writing about the Corman-produced Humanoids From the Deep, Michael (Psychotronic!) Weldon wrote:
“Like it or not, it was a hit and is not dull."

And that about sums up Corman.

In a February 17, 2008, editorial in The Washington Post, columnist Ann Hornaday suggested that rather than the usual dusty waxworks usually trotted out for the Honorary Oscar, Corman should get one.

She wrote:
His is a style rooted in Hollywood's love of ballyhoo, exploitation and pulp spectacle. He was independent before there were "indies," guerrilla before it was hip. What's more, he has had an incalculable effect on the art form, training plenty of directors and actors -- more than 40 by our count -- who got their starts in movies with titles like "Dementia 13" and "Caged Heat" before going on to win Oscars themselves.

Nearly 400 films later, Roger Corman is, astonishingly, still working. His is a lifetime of nothing but achievement. Give him the Oscar, Academy, or we call out the brain-eating crabs.

Like most fans of the Cinema of Weirdness, I supported Hornaday’s suggestion, but never expected it to happen:
Those self-important blowhards at the Academy give Corman an Oscar? No way.

Then, just the other day—

But there’s a catch (isn’t there always?)—

The Hollywood Reporter says:

“In a break with tradition, this year the Academy's honorary awards will be handed out at the new event in November. While the awards will be acknowledged during the Oscarcast on March 7, the show won't devote the same amount of time to toasting the honorees on air as in past years.”

Which mean that while Corman gets to be in the audience, and who knows, maybe they’ll even deign to let him present one of the “lesser” awards like makeup or visual effects, his actual ceremony, the “c’mon up and get it,” the clip show, the accolades, the prerecorded messages, all that won’t be presented when the 2010 Oscars are aired.

Is that what this means, because I’d love to be wrong about this one.
Are they really giving with one hand and taking away with the other?

And that the show is doing this not only to Corman (so what if he gave half of Hollywood their first job?), but to people like Lauren Bacall and Gordon Willis
—artists with long histories in Hollywood who’ve worked on some of the cinema’s big classics
—to do that to them just seems

And these world-renowned filmmakers are begin given the short shrift because why?
Ohhhh, because somebody somewhere is whining that the Oscar Ceremonies are too long.
Hey pal, who’s putting a gun to your head and making you watch?
Where are the advertisers?
Shouldn’t they be standing up for more airtime, for longer Oscars?

Why do people give a shit how long the Oscars are? It’s not like you can’t go to the bathroom!
And I’m sorry I don’t remember where I heard/read this before, but I’ll reiterate:

Do people ever complain how long a World Series game or the Stuporbowl lasts? Because those go on for hours and hours! And quite frankly, are quite
So you sports-geeks get to watch endless replays of touchdowns and home runs that throw TV scheduling WAY out of whack, but us movie-geeks can’t have a broadcast once a year that goes over three hours?
Fuck you, you crybabies.

As a kid, watching the Oscars was great because it was a clip show: lots and lots of clips of different flicks—because although I grew up near Manhattan, I didn’t get to see everything, and the Oscars were an opportunity to see more of an as-yet-to-be-seen movie than just the trailer.

But how come Hollywood just can’t ever get it right? Sigh….

Of course, with the Intertubes, a clip show isn’t needed, I suppose
—but awful jokes from the likes of Jack Black and Ben Stiller are. Hooray.

There’s a small consolation: While Corman’s ceremony won’t take place in the big hall with everybody else, it will probably be available to watch on YouTube or elsewhere.

Be that as it may, at least he’s getting something.

Roger Corman deserves it.


  1. Complaining about awards shows just gives them unearned legitimacy. They are absolutely worthless. The Oscars are NOT for movie geeks. They are for fans of Entertainment Tonight and US Weekly who talk loudly during one or two of whatever big blockbuster movies come out in a given year.

    Don't encourage Corman to buy into the Oscar hype. Remember the Ramones at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame? That shit is just plain embarrassing.

    The Academy Awards = garbage for retards. Your mother and I are very disappointed in the subtext of this post, Ivan.

  2. HOLY SHIT, harsh words from the Toestubbster!!!! This is getting good. We at OMR haven't even read the TEXT yet, let alone the Subtext, so this may take some serious examination. Whatever the outcome, we at OMR hope to maintain diplomatic relations with the UPI. HOLY SHIT... holy shit...

  3. Well, anybody who mentions the Grammbies, the RnR Hole of Fame, the Oshkoshers, the Tromies or the Eggies in my presence shall not escape without a most stern scolding, pursed lips and a wag of the finger. In fact, you don't even need to mention them. I can already tell what you're thinking.

  4. Thank you, Mr. Toestubber for your comments.
    In rebuttal:
    Attempts to romanticize him into the indie ghetto are well-intentioned, and certainly help his legend grow, but Roger Corman
    is not Stan Brakhage or George Kuchar. Corman is an artist, but also a businessman, and Hollywood (with its resulting sham awards) is the industry he works in.

    As for buying into Oscar hype? I think Corman bought that years ago: Why do you think he willingly—gleefully—makes cameos in Coppola, Demme, Etc.’s movies? He likes being in the “scene”—he likes the attention, and he’ll make sure to remind you that he’s made cameos in several Oscar winners including Godfather II and Silence of the Lambs.

    Corman also, I feel, believes in the legitimacy of film awards—why
    else would he, in so many interviews, mention that The Wild Angels was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival? (And just because it’s a foreign award doesn’t make it better or smarter.)

    Meanwhile, by all accounts, Corman’s a pretty decent guy and Hollywood (that industry with the sham awards) is full of people whom he helped in one way or another.

    I think Corman can’t wait to get his mitts on that gold statue and, as
    others have mentioned, he’ll also try and find a way to capitalize on
    this (“Directed by Oscar winner Roger Corman!”)—nor do I think he
    should be criticized for it either.

    Consequently, since I don’t think this is an award Corman thinks is
    unimportant, and since I am one of those garbage-eating retards who watches the Academy Awards every year (knowing full well it’s a sham, but for my own reasons), I am of the belief that if you're going to give Corman (and others, like Hollywood royalty Lauren Bacall) an honorary award, then at least do it right. Don’t make it second tier. Give them their moment in the sun.

  5. Ivan, I appreciate your reasoned argument, but my guts full of bile must respectfully disagree. I know that Corman and many other potential "honorees" buy into the bullshit, but they are are wrong. I, on the other hand, am right.

    There are all kinds of sacrifices and compromises that artists have to make, but awards shows are a special case to me because at *best* they contribute nothing and are a terrible distraction from the works in question. Baiting the trap with a false appeal to the artists' ego, a bunch of politically-motivated vulgarians proceed to smear their shit all over the creative process by picking a "winner" (based on criteria no one even bothers to defend).

    It's not worth committing seppuku so that a bunch of ignorant strangers dressed in tuxedos might *possibly* throw you a nice funeral.

    (Of course, I fully support my friend Ivan's right to seek entertainment wherever he may find it, be it the Academy Awards, the Chabad telethon or the music of Korn. I'm just venting.)

    Let me sum up. The fact that someone like Roger Corman, who's pioneered some of Hollywood's most moneymaking techniques, mentored countless Oscar-humping hacks, revolutionized the film distribution biz, made a lot of fine movies, knows everyone in town, and actually supports "The Academy" (!) is getting treated with the disrespect you detailed in your post - that's my argument right there. It's a sucker's game.

  6. DANG! We at OMR agree with both sides of this heated debate, in conflicted ways, but when Toestubs says, "I, on the other hand, am right," we laugh out loud and begin to see his point. We're coming down on Stub's side a bit: the awards crap is so fuckin stupid... look at the winners: Gandhi? Philadelphia?

    Anyway, we at OMR respectfully pledge our allegiance to both camps, and may we all make it through this trying time!

  7. It occurs to me that I seem a bit strident here. This is Ivanlandia, not Stubberton. Lest my comments come off as some sort of moral indictment of our web host, let me make it clear that I never intended placing Ivan in the position of having to defend or excuse the Awards themselves. They exist. They suck. Whaddaya gonna do? We are all trapped in a world we never made.

  8. In an attempt to counteract the maelstrom of negativity recently shit all over Ivanlandia, let’s take a look at some more pleasant comments left about the latest entry over at our account at Il Fache-Book:

    Jack H. wrote:
    “Roger Corman could easily pass as a doctor. He should buy a diploma, stick it on the wall and advertise himself as a plastic surgeon. I’d go to him.”

    And Jack, with that voice of his, you could have the worst disease and his diagnosis would sound like kittens on a mountain of ice cream giving you the winning lottery ticket.

    Karyn B., formerly of Los Angeles, now of Edmonton, Canada, wrote:
    “I went to High School with his daughter. Ah, the memories.”

    Then later, KB added: “Wait, I take that back -- was I dreaming?”

    To that last one, I replied: “Did you really go to high school with the Corman daughter, or did you dream it? And if it really happened, are there any good stories?”

    KB hasn’t regaled me yet with any tales of drunken escapades (or all-night study sessions) she may have had with Daughter Corman, but my breath’s baited!

  9. Nice prose and fun layouts. Whether you watch those awards or not, the info (nicely positioned in the middle of the piece) made the post all the more compelling - the classic conflict between the innovative artist and the evil machine of the establishment. Bravo.