Shitty Movie Sundays: Deathsport, or, You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda

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 readingShitty Movie Sundays: Deathsport, or, You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda”

It Came from the ’50s: Night of the Blood Beast

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 readingIt Came from the ’50s: Night of the Blood Beast”

It Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World

It Conquered the WorldRoger 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 readingIt Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World”

October Horrorshow: Piranha (1978)

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 readingOctober Horrorshow: Piranha (1978)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Droid Gunner, aka Cyberzone

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 readingShitty Movie Sundays: Droid Gunner, aka Cyberzone”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Caged Heat

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. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Caged Heat”

Giant Monstershow: Attack of the Giant Leeches

What a ridiculous movie. I loved just about every shitty minute of it.

Released in 1959, Attack of the Giant Leeches comes to viewers from the Roger Corman stable. He didn’t direct, but he was the executive producer. The movie was helmed by Bernard L. Kowalski from a screenplay by Leo Gordon (who had a prolific career as a television actor). Continue readingGiant Monstershow: Attack of the Giant Leeches”

October Horrorshow: Humanoids from the Deep, aka Monster

A viewer won’t find his name in the credits, but Humanoids from the Deep, an exploitative schlockfest from 1980, was produced by Roger Corman. He didn’t direct it and he didn’t write it, either. Barbara Peeters did the directing (with reshoots handled by an uncredited Jimmy T. Murakami), and Frederick James did the writing. But Corman’s hand is all over this film. It fits his demands at the time that cheap horror should be bloody, and feature some rape. Bloody is fine. Bloody is fun. Rape is really only useful in a horror flick if the mood a filmmaker is going for is revulsion. In a stupid monster flick, it’s overkill. Still, it doesn’t ruin too much of the fun of this putrid mess. Other stuff is responsible for that. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Humanoids from the Deep, aka Monster”

October Horrorshow: Chopping Mall, aka Killbots

I think it’s about high time to feature a flick from the Roger Corman stable. Chopping Mall, also released as Killbots, from 1986, doesn’t have Roger Corman’s name on it anywhere, but it’s definitely one of his. It was produced by Julie Corman, who has been married to Roger for almost fifty years, and it’s an underfunded piece of shit. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Chopping Mall, aka Killbots”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Battle Beyond the Stars

Roger Corman was absolutely shameless. There wasn’t an idea he wouldn’t steal, nor a corner he wouldn’t cut to save a buck, in any of the dozens of films in which he had a part. He is hailed as a pioneering and legendary filmmaker. He launched the careers of numerous, better filmmakers and is showered with credit for their talents. And he did all this, and more, while cranking out a relentless stream of awful films. Terrible, unwatchable, dreadful sins against the art of cinema. And sometimes, he managed to make a shitty movie that was worth a damn. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Battle Beyond the Stars”