Directed by Monte Hellman
Starring Warren Oates, Richard B. Shull, Harry Dean Stanton, Laurie Bird, Ed Begley Jr.
Shout Factory is bringing Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter (1974) to Blu-Ray, which is very good news indeed.
Hellman didn’t make many movies, which is a real shame. This is one of his best. It’s got a great cast — Warren Oates, Richard B. Shull and Harry Dean Stanton are some of my favorite character actors ever, and Laurie Bird is, well, Laurie Bird.
Cockfighter had a hard time with distribution, complete with titles changes (Born To Kill, Wild Drifter, etc.) and all kinds of oddball ad campaigns. It obviously was a tough sell. But it’s a terrific picture full of outstanding performances. Highly, highly recommended.
Category Archives: Roger Corman
Directed by Monte Hellman
Directed by Bruno VeSota
Starring Edwin Nelson, Joanna Lee, Alan Frost, Cornelius Keefe, Leonard Nimoy
As a kid, I spent more time studying TV Guide than my stuff for school. I was looking for was stuff like The Brain Eaters (1958), and when something turned up (often on WRAL’s Sunrise Theater), it was like I’d won a contest or something. While I love great movies like The Searchers (1956) or Citizen Kane (1941), it’s junk like The Brain Eaters than turned me into the movie nut I am today. Bet it worked that way for a lot of y’all out there, too.
So, it’s with a lot of nostalgia and glee that I report that Scream Factory is bringing The Brain Eaters to Blu-Ray later this month — in a limited edition of just 1,500 copies.
The story goes that actor Bruno VeSota wanted to direct, so he turned to Roger Corman. With Corman’s help, The Brain Eaters was made for less than $30,000. They got a distribution deal with AIP who paired it with Bert I. Gordon’s The Spider (1958) — and cooked up a great ad campaign for ’em (see the poster up top from Benson, North Carolina’s Benton Card Company). By the way, Scream Factory has already done a Blu-Ray of The Spider.
A big metal spiral-shaped thing turns up in rural Illinois, then people end up dead with weird parasites attached to the back of their necks. It’s got a bit of an Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956) thing going on — and was eventually wrapped up in a plagiarism suit from Robert A. Heinlein, who claimed The Brain Eaters ripped off his 1951 novel The Puppet Masters. And Leonard Nimoy’s name is misspelled in the credits, but he didn’t sue.
You don’t really recommend a movie like The Brain Eaters. You already know if this is your kind of thing. You can bet Scream Factory will have it looking as good as it’s ever gonna look, so grab one before they’re gone!
(February 13, 1934 – March 23, 2021)
George Segal, who made some damn good movies in a pretty long, busy career, has passed away at 87. The one that always stands out for me is Peter Yates’s The Hot Rock (1972), a crime comedy thing based on a funny Dortmunder novel by Donald E. Westlake. He’s on the right in the above photo, along with (L-R) Paul Sand, Ron Leibman and Robert Redford. (Moses Gunn and Zero Mostel are also in it.) The Hot Rock lead me to Westlake’s books, which worked around to the Richard Stark novels (Stark was one of Westlake’s pen names). By the way, The Hot Rock gives us an eerie helicopter ride around the World Trade Center when the towers were under construction.
George Segal was also in Ship Of Fools (1965), King Rat (1965), Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Roger Corman’s The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967), Where’s Poppa? (1970) and Robert Altman’s California Split (1974).
He was also a really good banjo player.
Directed by Peter Bogdanivich
Starring Boris Karloff, Tim O’Kelly, Peter Bogdanovich
Targets tells the stories of a troubled young man with a thing for guns (Tim O’Kelly) and an aging horror film star (Boris Karloff). O’Kelly’s character is based on Charles Whitman, who shot a bunch of people from the tower at the University Of Texas in Austin in 1966. Karloff’s character is based on, well, Boris Karloff. The movie gets creepier, and more topical, as time goes on. It also illustrates the shift from Gothic horror to more contemporary horror in a very literal way.
Targets came about because Boris Karloff owed Roger Corman a couple days’ work. Corman let Peter Bogdanovich make a picture out of the two days of Karloff and some footage from The Terror (1963). Bogdanovich and his wife Polly Platt based the story on Whitman, which was then in the news. Samuel Fuller helped out on the script, without credit or payment. The director managed to sell the picture to Paramount, which landed Corman a profit before it was even released.
The British Film Institute is bringing Targets to Blu-ray in March 2021, which will give us all a good look at the cinematography by László Kovács. The BFI will certainly load this up with supplemental stuff, too, making for a terrific package, I’m sure (hopefully, they’ll keep Bogdanovich’s commentary from the Paramount DVD). Highly recommended.
Produced & Directed by Roger Corman
Starring Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan, Russell Johnson, Leslie Bradley, Mel Welles, Richard H. Cutting
Shout Factory has announced that Roger Corman’s Attack Of The Crab Monsters (1957) will be released on Blu-Ray on August 25th (that’s next week) in a limited edition of just 1,000 copies. Act now, folks!
Made for just $70,000, Attack Of The Crab Monsters played in a double bill with Corman’s Not Of This Earth (1957) — which Shout Factory will hopefully get to soon, and made over a million bucks.
Attack Of The Crab Monsters was shot at Leo Carrillo State Beach, Bronson Caverns and Marineland by the great cinematographer Floyd Crosby, and it features a good score by Ronald Stein. The crab monsters were made out of styrofoam, so getting them to go underwater was tough (and destructive). Everything about this movie is terrific.
This Blu-Ray promises a new scan of a fine-grain print (in its original 1.85), a new commentary, the theatrical trailer and a tribute to Mr. Corman. It’s available exclusively through the Shout Factory website, and only 1,000 of ’em will be pressed. Highly, highly recommended. Click on the half sheet up top to order yours!
Directed by Roger Corman
Starring Ray Milland, Diana Van Der Vlis, Harold J. Stone, John Hoyt, Don Rickles, Morris Ankrum, Dick Miller
Bring on the AIP and Corman! Second Sight out of the UK has announced a Blu-Ray release of Roger Corman’s X – The Man With The X-Ray Eyes (1963). It’s a terrific movie that does wonders with its small budget (you could say that about most Corman movies, I guess).
Ray Milland is researching ways to boost man’s eyesight, who in typical horror movie fashion, tries his serum out on himself — with the usual results.
One of Corman’s best, with outstanding camerawork from the great Floyd Crosby. And Milland is really, really good. Highly recommended.
Produced & Directed by Roger Corman
Starring Richard Denning, Lori Nelson, Adele Jergens, Mike Connors, Paul Birch, Jonathan Haze, Paul Blaisdell
Scream Factory just keeps coming up with the gold! They’ve announced a March Blu-Ray release of Roger Corman’s Day The World Ended (1955). It’s got Corman directing — his fourth time at bat. It’s got a perfect B-picture cast — Denning and Nelson are both veterans of the Creature movies and Adele Jergens is always terrific. Plus, it’s got a great Paul Blaisdell monster, which he plays. What more could you want?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: seeing these cheap movies get the white-glove treatment on Blu-Ray makes my heart feel good. Glad there’s enough demand to make such efforts worthwhile — wish 50s Westerns had a fanbase of the same size (or, no offense, willingness to part with their money).
Not sure what the extras will be, but given Scream Factory’s track record, it’ll be quite a haul. And it’ll be a treat (maybe a grainy one) to see it in its original Superscope framing. Highly, highly recommended.
UPDATE: Evidently, that March date was announced too soon. No official release date has been given, but it’s coming — and that’s good news indeed!