Corman’s World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel
Director: Alex Stapleton
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, Roger Corman
Review by Brian M. Sammons
There seems to have been a glut of documentaries on all things concerning horror, sci-fi, and cult cinema. From all the horror icons of the ’80s, to even more classic fare like The Psycho Legacy, to examinations of the cultiest of cult movies like The Best Worst Movie that examined the awesomely bad Troll 2. These docs have all been wonderfully varied and they have all had one thing in common; that is that I loved them.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of this new one, Corman’s World, a doc on the “king of the B-movies,” Roger Corman.
To be honest, it’s not a bad movie. It is far more star studded than pretty much any other documentary I’ve seen in a long time. It has an impressive list of interviews from Jack Nicholson, Jonathan Demme, Martin Scorsese, Peter Fonda, Joe Dante, Pam Grier, Ron Howard, William Shatner, Quentin Tarantino, and more. It is well made and filmed, to be sure, but it is also sort of a boring watch. It lacks any of the vim and vitality of the other recent movie docs. It’s hard to explain, but it’s sort of just there. It could be because it kind of feels like a self-indulgent fluff piece where Corman is made out to be the best thing since sliced bread. I guess that’s to be expected, as the documentary is all about him, but I’ve heard enough stories about the man to know that he’s not all rainbows and gumdrops, and a little hint of that here would have gone a long way.
Further, and the thing that truly aggravated me about this movie, is that it spends an inordinate amount on time on some aspects of Corman’s incredibly long career, and yet all but skips over and dismisses other parts of it. A prime example of this is anything Corman did after the late ’70s and the birth of the blockbusters such as Star Wars and Jaws. This doc pretty much sums up that era with ‘oh he became upset that what were once B-movies like monsters (killer sharks) and sci-fi flicks were given the A treatment and he just couldn’t compete’. While that may be true, that is personally my favorite time for Corman made (be it mostly produced) films. Movies like Humanoids From The Deep, Galaxy Of Terror, Chopping Mall, Slumber Party Massacre, and even Piranha and Battle Beyond The Stars, which were Corman’s rip offs of the Jaws and Star Wars movies he so hated. Sure he didn’t direct any of these films, but he was the big boss of each of them, so they should have been covered in here, at least a little. And while I’d never say that these movies are masterpieces of cinema, I grew up watching them, I love the hell out of them, and yet they don’t even get a begrudging nod in their general direction. It’s as if he’s ashamed of these dirty little movies. Yet there are lengthy bits on his ‘amazing’ beginnings (It Conquered The World) and the truly horrible, bland, Sci-Fi Original movies (Dinoshark) he’s making now. Yeah, stuff like that gets some screen time, but not the ’80s-tastic Chopping Mall or any of its brethren? Blah.
As for the special features on this new Blu-ray from Anchor Bay, they are as lackluster and bland as the feature. There is a very short collection of extended interviews and a collection of ‘messages to Roger’ where most of the people interviewed in the doc give a personal message to the camera for Corman. That’s it, that’s all the extra you’ll find on this disc.
Corman’s World isn’t a bad documentary, but it’s not all that great either. It’s not particularly entertaining or informative, but if you are a big fan of Roger Corman, or just like run of the mill docs on movie making, then you may like this movie more than I did. If you’re just a typical horrorhead with no special love for the wacky movies Roger made, or worse yet, a fan of those classically cheesy 80s movies I mentioned before, then you probably won’t dig this flick quite as much.