What a pair of movies this turned out to be. Day the World Ended is an early Roger Corman flick from 1955, while In the Year 2889 is a made-for-TV remake from 1969 that used an almost identical script. Only the names were changed to protect the innocent.
Written by Lou Rusoff, that script tells the story of a small group that survives a nuclear apocalypse. World War Three has ravaged the world, silencing the cities of Earth and bathing the planet in radioactive fallout. But not in an isolated patch of rugged Southwestern landscape. Former Navy officer Jim Maddison (Paul Birch) has spent the last decade preparing for nuclear war. He has built his house nestled in between hills containing lead ore, which helps block radiation. Winds sweep through nearby canyons, creating a cushion of air that fallout can’t penetrate. I don’t know if any of this holds up to scientific scrutiny, but considering this is a 1950s sci-fi b-movie, I doubt it. It doesn’t matter, anyway. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Day the World Ended & In the Year 2889″
I’ve been cheated! The last, and only, time I saw Death Race 2000 before this latest viewing was in the far distant days of my youth, before the World Wide Web, when all snark had to be shared with those close to us. Friends, family, enemies, casual acquaintances — all near at hand to listen to our bullshit. Now, we are in the merciless grip of the Information Age, and I can share with the world the crime to which many, not just I, were subjected. For, the print I saw on television sometime during the Reagan administration had been ruthlessly cut for television. Gone was all the gratuitous nudity (understandable), but in its place, whoever prepared the film for TV had decided to just repeat footage. A viewer would watch David Carradine or Sly Stallone plow his car through a line of extras only to see the same footage again soon after. This happened many, many times. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Death Race 2000″
These old biker gang flicks are hilarious. They use as a subject one of their time’s silliest moral panics — rampaging biker gangs are coming for you! — but then make an extreme effort to avoid the use of profanity. Today’s film, Naked Angels, was released in 1969. That’s well past the time when blood, gore, and nudity had become commonplace in movies made for grownups, yet the harshest word Bruce D. Clark and Marc Siegler could muster for their screenplay was ‘bitch.’ By my count, ‘bitch’ was said five times in this film, while viewers were treated to no less than six exposed breasts. Contrast that with something like Goodfellas, which had 300 ‘fucks’ and all its derivations, plus all the other profanity, but only the briefest of glances at a single nipple. What conclusions can we draw from this? Had Naked Angel gone with 1,800 ‘fucks’ to balance out its breasts, it could have had an Oscar nomination. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Naked Angels”
What a gloriously stupid movie. I mean that. Shitty movie fans know the struggle. We mine the depths of Netflix and Prime, the bargain bins at the big box, the lot purchases on eBay. Most of what we find is slag or chaff. But occasionally, one digs up something precious — a film of such mirthful incompetence that it can liven up a whole day. Such is Deathsport.
From way back in 1978, Deathsport comes to us from the Roger Corman stable. He produced this one, while directing duties were handled by Nicholas Niciphor, and later Allan Arkush (although, if the internet is to be believed, Corman did some uncredited work in the director’s chair, as well). Apparently, the shoot was a bit of a nightmare, with the unexperienced Nicophor trying to wrangle of bunch of drugged out loons. Well, their chaos was our gain. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Deathsport, or, You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda”
Night of the Blood Beast is barely a movie. That shouldn’t be any surprise to viewers familiar with its pedigree. It comes to us via American International Pictures, and was produced by not one, but two, members of the Corman clan. Despite there being twice as much Corman as audiences would usually get, this flick looks as if it had half the budget.
From 1958, Blood Beast plays out like an updated version of It Conquered the World, only with all the fat trimmed. That’s quite a feat carried out by screenwriter Martin Varno and director Bernard Kowalski, because that flick didn’t have any fat to trim. It was a test of an audience’s patience, and so is Blood Beast. It amazes me that a film like this could have such a short running time, at 62 minutes, and the filmmakers had trouble filling that up. It’s as if Roger Corman would hire writers to pen a half-hour long episode of The Twilight Zone, and then tell his directors to stretch it out as much as they could. I wouldn’t be surprised if Corman paid his writers by the page, and thin screenplays were his way of pinching ever more pennies. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: Night of the Blood Beast”
Roger Corman was a better director than Bert I. Gordon. That’s obvious, of course. Roger Corman is a Hollywood legend, while Gordon is known only to us poor souls who like trash cinema. Corman’s reputation has been burnished by all the successful filmmakers that came through his stable, but he could trash it up with the worst of them. I mention Corman and Gordon in the same breath because today’s It Came from the 1950s entry is almost indistinguishable from the crap Gordon used to turn out. The only major difference is that Corman knew how to end a scene before things got too boring.
It Conquered the World was released in 1956, and was directed and produced by Corman from a screenplay by Lou Rusoff, who penned the execrable Phantom from 10,000 Leagues. This flick is miles better than Phantom, and it still stinks.
It stars Peter Graves as Dr. Paul Nelson, who works on a project launching America’s first satellites into orbit. One of his friends is Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef), a scientist disillusioned with the state of mankind. How fortunate for Dr. Anderson that he finds a friend in an alien being from Venus, one of the last of his race. The alien communicates with Anderson through a radio set in Anderson’s house. The alien is giving Anderson instructions to help pave the way for a Venusian takeover of Earth. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World”
What a classic drive-in schlockfest. From the Roger Corman stable, Piranha could have been just another cheap Jaws ripoff, à la The Last Shark. But Corman hired filmmakers with some genuine talent to write and direct. He was way too tight to give them a budget, but their skills allowed them to weave some shitty gold.
John Sayles wrote the screenplay and Joe Dante directed. This was very early in both their careers, and they have since gone on to greater things. But I wouldn’t call this a humble beginning. By 1978, when this flick was released, Corman had been in business for decades. The flicks he produces are not humble — they are just cheap. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Piranha (1978)”
His name isn’t in the credits, but Roger Corman was an executive producer on this piece of shit, which means a viewer can expect a masterful showcase of parsimonious filmmaking. Director Fred Olen Ray wasn’t given two pennies to rub together to make this flick, and it shows. Just about anything of consequence in the entire film was shot in the same three locations: an industrial basement, a dive bar, and an alley. That’s it. And, despite this being made in the mid-1990s, Corman and company didn’t spring for anything remotely resembling contemporary special effects, instead relying on work that belonged in cheap sci-fi from twenty years earlier. Hell, it could even be cribbed from a different Corman movie. He did that all the time. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Droid Gunner, aka Cyberzone”
What a piece of trash. I’ve written before that it’s folly to impose present morality on the past, and that includes living memory. But in this day and age, should someone try and make a film like Caged Heat, they might end up having to register as a sex offender. At the very least, Twitter would be apoplectic…for perhaps a week, before moving on to the next outrage.
From 1974, Caged Heat was future Oscar winner Jonathan Demme’s first foray in the director’s chair. Before this, he had written and produced a pair of exploitation flicks for Roger Corman and New World Pictures. This flick is also part of the Corman stable, although one won’t find his name in the credits. His fingerprints are all over it, though. From the gratuitous nudity that crosses over into crudity, to the pervading cheapness in fealty to ruthless cost-cutting, this is as much a Corman as a Demme flick.
Also written by Demme, Caged Heat follows the trials and tribulations of the inmates of the Connerville Correctional Institute for Women. Demme may have ‘written’ a ‘screenplay,’ but putting any effort into following the plot is a waste of time for the viewer. The story is just about the least important and engaging aspect of this flick. The purpose of this film was to make a quick buck by satisfying the more animalistic desires of its viewers. There is plenty of full-frontal nudity to satisfy all the young, teenaged boy’s desire for the female figure, should they not have had an older brother with a Penthouse stashed behind his headboard. I counted four(!) shower scenes. Of course, I’m writing of the past. The internet has made pseudo-smut like this unnecessary, and somewhat quaint. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Caged Heat”