The Corman Touch

April 5, 2011 | By

After a delicious Eric Roberts sandwich, Sharktopus homicidus is ready for a nice aftynoon nap.

Roger Corman’s built a career making economical quickies, but there was a period when he was poised to move into the low A-realm, after building an increasingly respectable reputation as a director of Edgar Allan Poe shockers such as The House of Usher (1960) and The Masque of the Red Death (1964).

Von Richthofen and Brown (1971) was supposed to be the career maker, but UA’s mishandling of the film soured Corman from directing for practically 20 years, during which time he set up a new company, New World Pictures, producing and releasing native and international products.

During that time, Corman went back to being a businessman and mentor, and he continues to be involved with low budget productions, such as Sharktopus [M] (Anchor Bay), reportedly the highest rated TV movie on the SyFy network thus far.

From the Blu-ray’s  commentary track, one gets the impression he’d like to work with more money, but technology’s allowed him to animate almost anything – including a half-shark, half octopus, with decapitations and elaborate explosions.

Now, few attempts to make a deliberately good-bad, bug-eyed monster movie work (Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus has its share of flaws, but came close, even tough all the money shots are in the trailer), but there is a special fromage factor in Sharktopus, which should please fans of no-budget monster movies cut from the Corman cloth.

To the other end, there’s Philippe Resonnances [M] (Synapse Films), which comes pretty close to transcending the major limitations of its DV production values. Not unlike Sharktopus, the giant bug effects and attack sequences generally work in what’s a decent riff on Ron Underwood’s Tremors (1990). Shot on DV, this French film took some time getting to Region 1 land, but it’s a good work sampler from a director who just needs a bit more cash and extra time to refine the script into something less overtly derivative.

Coming next: Marlon Brando’s mumbling bubberesque performance in Arthur Penn’s The Chase (1966), a film whose tension is derived not from whether ‘Bubber’ Reeves (shiny-faced Robert Redford) lives through a conflagration of small town hate, but exactly how does the salmon dress worn by actress Janice Rule (The Swimmer) maintain an unbearable level of cleavage in spite of gravity, and a persistent, southern summer breeze.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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