Reviews

The Roger Corman Collection

3

Roger Corman, legendary King of the Bs, tight-fisted mentor of just about everybody from Jack Nicholson through Martin Scorsese to John Sayles, produced and directed no less than 45 movies between 1955 and 1967. Most of them, not surprisingly, boasted zero production values, and many were schlock of the most ludicrous kind. But quite a few made up for their paltry budgets with pace and imagination, and one or two were even seriously good. This mixed bag takes in two early westerns, three from Corman’s Poe cycle and a legendary biker saga. Five Guns West is a passably tight and effective little oater, given that it marks Corman’s directorial debut. But a year later he’s regressed: not only is Gunslinger clumsily overplotted but the continuity is shambolic.

Corman’s later Poe cycle was altogether glossier. The earliest here, The Premature Burial, finds Ray Milland fearing inherited catalepsy. The Haunted Palace is Poe in name only. It’s actually adapted from a tale by HP Lovecraft, with Corman favourite Vincent Price possessed by the soul of his demonic ancestor. Star of this bunch is The Masque Of The Red Death, shot on lavish sets with Nicolas Roeg as DoP and Price at his most grandiose playing the decadent Prince Prospero in medieval Italy.

The Wild Angels updates The Wild One to the hippy ’60s, with Peter Fonda channelling Brando as the moody leader of a bunch of antisocial bikers. Less iconic than the 1953 flick, perhaps, but still a potent era-snapshot that lifted – in consummate Corman fashion – the careers of everyone from Diane Ladd to future Two-Lane Blacktop director Monte Hellman. Ride on…

Film Details

  • 18
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: September 15th 2008