03 April 2006

Happy 80th To Roger Corman!

Tim Lucas of the always-essential "Video Watchdog" has urged fans to gather for a "Blog-A-Thon" to mark a most major event: the legendary Roger Corman celebrates the big 8-0 this very day, and I can't imagine a happier octogenarian.

I had the pleasure of meeting the man--a lifelong idol of mine (and to many)--back in 2003 for a Q&A and screening of "Man With The X-Ray Eyes" sponsored by The Canadian Film Centre, and he was as gracious and good-humoured as I expected him to be (critics and their "schlockmeister" labels aside, I don't think a bad word has ever been written about him). Although moving a lot slower than I'd seen him in many documentaries and DVD supplements, he signed my copy of his autobiography and my vintage "Bucket Of Blood" half-sheet (already signed by Dick Miller). Whatever cynicism I had about the film industry vanished (well, at least then) when I watched him reminisce with the glee of a giddy teenager, even though I'm sure he'd heard every question asked at least several hundred times before. Clearly, after 50 years as a producer, guru, and accomplished auteur in his own right, he still loves what he does. And movie fans everywhere cherish his legacy.

Corman was supposed to direct the final installment of "Masters Of Horror" but had to bow out at the last minute for health reasons (he was replaced by John McNaughton). Let's hope he's feeling a bit more chipper for Season Two. In the meantime, you can check out much of his filmography on those little miracle platters. May I suggest starting with the perfectly-modulated, macabre pageantry of "Masque Of The Red Death", the aforementioned "Man With The X-Ray Eyes", the tense and Tarantinoesque "Rock All Night", the impossibly groovy "The Trip", the tragically underappreciated "The Intruder" (Shatner in overdrive, sure, but an impassioned performance nonetheless)?...ah, hell, just get 'em all and see what "indie" filmmaking was like before boutique divisions and emo soundtracks...

(more to come on Corman later...)