Friday, September 18, 2009
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
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
Politics and mayhem!
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.
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—
HOLY FUCKING SHIT!
AN HONORARY OSCAR!!!
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.