THE ROGER CORMAN COLLECTION
Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
Roger Corman can be credited for many of the major players in Hollywood. By making numerous movies on a low budget with a short shooting schedule, he has made a number of cult classics. This DVD set includes eight of his most unique films that he produced and directed.
Is it good movie?
It is fascinating to take a trip down memory lane and see why Roger Corman is such a major influence in modern cinema. Mostly known for low-budget exploitation films, he was also a pro at making cheap flicks yet still speaking to a generation or two. This box set includes eight of his films which he produced and director. The set includes two films on one disc, and is a good example at the variety of films he has made in his fascinating career.
The first disc includes the films Gas-s-s-s and The Trip. Both films are dripping in Sixties counter-culture, with hippies and drugs and a bizarre motorcycle gang dressed at a high school football team. The better film here is The Trip which is basically a visual LSD experience. The fragmented visuals, the bright and vibrant colors and a pretty cool Dennis Hopper performance make for a unique film experience. Although Iím not a huge fan of remakes, I think that this is one film that could benefit from a modern day telling. Gas-s-s-s, while also interesting, it felt a bit too oddball for me.
Disc two includes a couple of action pics, they include The Young Racers and The Wild Angels. Both feature some pretty impressive racing footage and motorcycle goodness, yet Racers feels a little more mainstream with itís story of a playboy race car driver and a journalist writing a book on him. Itís a good film with surprisingly terrific race car footage yet it feels a bit tame for Corman. While, on the other hand, Angels is a over the top movie revolving around a bunch of thugs and their journey across America. The characters are not likeable yet there is a crude attraction that I had for this film.
Disc three offers up my favorite films on this set. Bloody Mama, which is most notable for an early appearance of Robert DeNiro and of course, Shelley Winters as Ma Barker. This is a violently comic yet disturbing look at Ma and her criminal sons. It is filled with nudity (including a brief appearance by little DeNiro and a lovely Seventies looking gal) and a ton of shoot outs and violence. Yes, this is not a great film, but there is something really fascinating about it and it ranks high on my list of favorite cult classics. And yet another cult classic, A Bucket of Blood is a wicked satire on the hippie beatnik generation, poetry and a bunch of creepy sculptures. The best thing about this is the wonderful performance from genre favorite, Dick Miller. Hi is fantastic as the put upon loser that discovers what you can do with dead folks and clay.
And finally, disc four offers up a double dose of Ray Milland. One, is the Edgar Allan Poe classic The Premature Burial and the other is a sci-fi mad scientist flick called X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. I prefer Burial with itís terrifically eerie atmosphere and just the fact that the story is a damn scary idea. As for X, I found it to be an okay watch, but seemed a bit dated and dull aside from a few fun scenes regarding a dude with the power to see through womenís clothes. I also dug the final few frames. Yet Poe is just a great way to kill time with an actor as good as Ray Milland.
Video / Audio
Video: Most of the films are in either 1.85:1 or 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and all of them look as pretty good. It seems that the transfers could have been a little clearer.
Audio: The Dolby Digital is also quite good, and it probably sounds a little better than the picture itself.
The special features are quite good, yet less than half of the movies include any extras. The most interesting are the two Commentaries from Mr. Corman himself. On both X and The Trip, he offers up some insight on his way of filmmaking, casting and several other aspects of his work. They are a worthy listen, yet they both offer up a few too many silent moments, and I mean way too many quite moments. Did he forget he was doing commentary: It might have been a good idea to add a couple actors to talk shop.
As for The Premature Burial, we have Roger Corman Unearths the Premature Burial (9:38) which is a fascinating but all too short look at the making of the film. Roger talks about how he was destined to work with American International Pictures and what it is like making a movie based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. This particular disc also includes the Theatrical Trailer
X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes offers up the Original Theatrical Prologue which is very dated but still worth watching before the movie. It also includes the Theatrical Trailer which tells much too much about the movie.
Finally, there is The Trip, which has the most extras including Tune In, Trip Out (17:11) where Roger talks about not feeling he could direct the film unless he did LSD. He had a nice trip. This is very interesting, and also too short. There is also a look at the LSD effects with Allen Daviau, ASC: Psychedelic Film Effects which talks about the bizarre imagery in the film. DudeÖ itís crazy man! And for more craziness, you can watch a Psychedelic Light Box (7:58) which offers up more of the sex scenes in the film and way more crazy lights. And in case you want to read, check out American Cinematographer Magazine Excerpt - March 1968. And finally, the groovy Theatrical Trailer
Roger Corman is an impressive man. He knows how to make an interesting, if not always good, genre flick and his direction on these eight films is very good and versatile. He offers up a little LSD, a few bad boys and girls on motorcycles and of course a gothic horror film based on Edgar Allan Poe. This is a must own if you love flicks from the late Fifties to the early Seventies, especially independent films that dissect the culture of the era. Not always good, but almost always fascinating. Especially good are the exploitive Bloody Mama and the creepy fun of A Bucket of Blood.