An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
Why are they always talking to us about the Sundance Film Festival? It's not like we're welcome to actually show up at the goddam thing. And anyways, what's so exciting about "low budget", "indie", "little" movies? Roger Corman made a ton of the things nearly half a century ago but he's the very last guy you'll ever see sitting on a panel with Spike Lee or Kevin Smith in some hoity toity ski lodge. That's 'cause when Roger Corman made a movie for no money with actors nobody ever heard of, he made a movie that millions of people would actually want to pay to see. Forget about some crap about three black guys bickering over some chick like she was the last forty in the fridge or a bunch of wise ass punks slouching behind the counter of some Jersey convenience store, Roger Corman made movies about Monsters From Outer Space, Bad Ass Biker Gangs, Mad Scientists With X Ray Vision, Acid Tripping Freaks, Man Eating Plants, you name it, if it was the kinda thing to get a teenage kid to buy a ticket to the Neighborhood Drive In, Roger Corman made a movie about it. His movies might have been "low budget" and "indie", but the very last thing a Roger Corman movie ever was is "little."
became an independent producer and director in the early fifties grinding
out three or four movies a year on five day shooting schedules and the
kind of budget other Hollywood big shots set aside for weekend sneakaways
to Palm Springs with their bimbo starlets. In 1958 he made eight movies
and two years later shot perhaps his best film "The Little Shop Of Horrors"
in just two days. Two Days! It took Stanley Kubrick that long just to
decide what color socks one of the extras all the way on the other side
of the set was supposed to wear. (And that was for one of his Black And
White movies.) My fave Corman secret for shooting as much of the script
in a single day as possible - He never talked to the actors! And if you've
ever talked to an actor you can certainly understand why.
Corman is the rare Hollywood personality who has kept his mouth shut about any part of his private life. He is a remote, aloof doof. Considering the Over The Top content of his movies this emotional distance is probably the only thing that makes them plausible. He was born in 1926 ( Same year as Jerry Lewis!! Significant? You betcha!! But then I'm mostly French. Luckily for you this article has been edited by Wil Forbis who is mostly Scottish and you won't have to plow through the original two hundred and fifty seven page draft of this piece.) and grew up in Beverly Hills. That's right - "Beverly Hills . . . Swimming Pools . . . Movie Stars . . .". That stuff was a Big Deal to Jerry Lewis after growing up in Jersey squalor, but to Roger Corman it was just his native habitat. Making movies was so second nature to him he wasn't about to make a big sweaty fuss over it. Young Roger earned a degree from Stanford in Engineering. Remember that in a few years when your punk kid tells you he wants to go to Film School.
"Art was not something I consciously aspired to create." Corman has admitted "My job was to be a good craftsman." The raw material of a Roger Corman movie may be pretty shabby but the design and construction are always up to Code. "The Wasp Woman", for example, is about as silly as any other fifties chiller thriller, but it's an entertaining story well told with interesting characters, dry humor, and . . . . uh . . . and a freakin' Wasp Woman! What else do ya want from an old black and white horror movie? If Rod Sterling had come up with that idea it would be as highly regarded as that Twilight Zone where Bookwork Burgess Meredeth is the Last Man On Earth and he breaks his glasses at the end. Shit, if Corman had done that Meredeth would have broken his glasses and . . . uh . . . gotten attacked by rats! Yeah! Six Foot Atomic Mutant Rats With Tentacles! Maybe "He breaks his glasses. The End" is good enough for TV but if you're gonna get the kids to buy a ticket and some popcorn with a Large Coca Cola you gotta have Six Foot Atomic Mutant Rats With Tentacles! And that's why Roger Corman is Alive and Rod Serling is Dead. That and lung cancer.
Corman ended his directing career in 1970, the same year he got married - and started TAKING direction. HAW HAW HAW! But seriously, folks, he quit directing to start up New World Pictures, a production and distribution company that gave us "Death Race 2000" and "Rock And Roll High School", but otherwise - Who cares? I know Corman don't!
And now it's time for the obligatory part of every article about Roger Corman where we make a great big old list of all the people who got their start in the movie business working for Roger Corman and then went on to become big time Academy Award winning Hollywood assholes ( I know you've already read this a million times but I guess we have to do it cause it somehow makes Corman look "respectable" or "legitimate" whatever the fuck that's supposed to fuckin' mean ) - Jack Pillsbury directed "Dog Faced Jerk Of Jupitor" for Corman in 1962 and won the Academy Award in 1978 for directing the one your girlfriend dragged you to with a lot of singing and dancing in it, Donny Clark wrote "Sorority Girl Slaughter House" for Corman in 1958 and won the Academy Award in 1967 for writing some crap about poor Indians getting screwed over by the bad white people, Vickie Braxton starred in "Cheerleader From Beneath The Sea" for Corman in 1955 and won the Acadacaca in 1972 for starring in that thing where she died of cancer of something and your mom cried and cried and cried until your dad told her to get over it and she knocked his block off, Monte Hellman . . . Eh, who gives a shit? That kinda thing just gets on my nerves, and after being exposed to "X-The Man With The X Ray Eyes" at an early age my nerves have had all they can stands they can't stands no more!! Mention Corman's "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre" to most serious film connoisseurs and they'll start waving their hands around excitedly and start gibbering about how it's one of Jack Nicholson's first movies and how he plays the small part of a hired gunman seen rubbing garlic in the tips of his bullets cause "If they don't kill you they'll give you indigestion" and that's so wonderful cause Nicholson improvised that line and - Shut The Hell Up!! "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre" is a terrific movie full of a whole bunch of really great actors doing all kinds of really great stuff you dingleberries are too busy sitting around in coffee shops gibbering and waving your hands around excitedly while I'm trying to write to have ever seen - Like Jason Robards, America's Greatest Recently Dead Actor, as Al Capone! Yeah, sounds really totally Super Cool, don't it? And - Take it from a guy really totally Super Cool enough to have actually seen Jason Robards as Al Capone in "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre" - It is! Yeah, you have never seen the Magnificence that was Jason Robards until you have seen him as Scarface Al Capone. The whole time I was watching him die of cancer in "Magnolia" I was pretending he was Scarface dying in prison of syphilis. And I was pretending that the Tom Cruise character was the The Man With The X Ray Eyes, Julianne Moore was The Wasp Woman, and - Just for the hell of it - the girl sitting next to me had her face in my lap. Hey, fantasy is what the movies are all about!
Oh man, you have really gotta see Roger Corman's "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre"! There is a scene where George Segal - Yeah, he's in it, too! - gets in a fight with his girlfriend and they just BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF EACH OTHER!!! What? Huh? Oh, apparently the kind of sensitive zeroes who hang around in coffee shops don't like it when guys in Ted Nugent t-shirts wave their hands around excitedly and start gibbering about guys and their girlfriends beating the crap out of each other. Okay! I'll leave, I'll leave. The folk music is making me sick anyway.'
What do you think America? Leave your comments on the Guestbook!
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - email@example.com
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