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RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
STUDIO: Anchor Bay
- Extended Interviews
- Special Messages To Roger
A loving tribute to a man who has had a massive influence on the world of cinema
Director Alex Stapleton. Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Fonda, Ron Howard, Eli Roth, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme, Jim Wynorski, Allan Arkush, Pam Grier, David Carradine, Paul Bartel, Bruce Dern, etc…….and the illustrious Eric Balfour.
This isn’t a rowdy romp through exploitation cinema (ala Not Quite Hollywood), but that’s not a bad thing.
The above statement is completely true. Do not go into this expecting some sort of Mark Hartley-style doc about the crazy films of Roger Corman. If you do, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Besides, we already semi-received such a film in the form of Machete Maidens Unleashed!. Instead, Corman’s World truly is a portrait of the man himself more than the works he has produced over the course of his still-going career. While this documentary is packed with clips from and discussion of Roger’s collective work (with most focus placed on the AIP and New World Pictures eras), the focus is geared towards what kind of person Roger is and what it was/is like to work for him.
The interviews within (both new and archival) paint a portrait of a man determined to carve out his out destiny in the film industry and how he successful achieved it by being one charmingly cheap bastard. That statement might read a bit harsh, but it’s true. Roger will always be a penny pincher and that’s one of the main reasons why he can still claim he’s almost never lost money on a film. Thriftiness aside, it becomes clear early on that Corman is a very trusting and loyal man. He’s really the best kind of producer anyone could want. He hands a filmmaker a vague plotline and a budget. As long as said director kept to the budget, he very rarely interferes with the vision of those making the film.
Outside of money, the only things he’s a stickler on is running time and entertainment factor (violence, nudity, explosions, etc.). As long as you meet his base criteria, you can do whatever you want. This, above all other reasons, is likely why he attracted so much young talent back in his heyday and gave starts to so many industry luminaries. Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme, Peter Bogdanovich, Gale Ann Hurd, Dennis Hopper, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Sylvester Stallone, David Carradine, William Shatner, etc. All worked with Corman at the start of their careers. And you know what? Virtually every one of them that appears in this documentary doesn’t really have a single bad thing to say about Roger. They might poke fun at some of the films that they did for him, but there’s no real negativity directed at the man himself. Hell, the sunglass-wearing Jack Nicholson even gets emotional enough talking about Corman that he cries!
Beyond a purveyor of wonderful schlock, the film also takes time to point out Corman’s devotion to distributing arthouse fare in theaters (and drive-ins!). Ole’ Roger would make his money on colorful monster movies and use part of the funds to distribute new works by Bergman, Kurosawa, etc. across the nation. Now that’s what I call an all-around class act.
As I stated earlier, the doc’s main focus are the AIP and New World Pictures years, but his current work is touched on as well. We get some fun on-set footage during the making of Dinoshark and an interview with Eric Balfour about the “guerilla-style” production shoot. The real fun bits focus on the SFX shooting though. After all, there’s nothing like watching a half-naked actress thrashing about in the water and pretends to be eaten by a rubber monster head attached to some dude’s arms.
While I feel like I know a lot more about Roger Corman: The Man, I honestly didn’t enjoy this as much I had anticipated. Did I set myself up for disappointment with high expectations? Who knows? Perhaps I did. Corman’s World is a very enjoyable and informative documentary. Is it a worthwhile watch for any serious cinephile or schlock hound? Absolutely. That said; I wouldn’t call it a must-own piece unless you are a really big fan.
Corman’s World is short on special features, but that is to be expected. After all, it’s not the kind of film that requires a ton of accompaniments. The covers are well-designed and eye-catching, as are the menus. The extended interviews are pretty self-explanatory, offering up extra tidbits from many of the interviewees. The “Special Messages To Roger” feature showcases many of those within the documentary making heartfelt and/or joking statements directed at the many himself. Some are touching and funny, others a bit awkward. Outside of a trailer, that’s all folks!
Out of a Possible 5 Stars