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Roger Corman Double Feature
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 12/04/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"How much you like this Roger Corman double feature will depend, of course, on how much you like Roger Corman in general--the "King of the B's," a producer/director/writer with a knack for turning out inexpensive horror films on a tight schedule. Most often Corman's film were dive-in dreck, lame-brainers like ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, WASP WOMAN, and CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA. But as his career progressed, Corman did indeed begin to strike gold, keeping to his inexpensive budgets but luring big name stars like Vincent Price and Ray Milland for such films as THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM and X: THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES--movies that are classics of their kind and remain tremendous fun to watch to this day.The films on this double feature disk fall somewhere between Corman dreck and Corman gold. According to film lore, Corman created THE TERROR in 1963 for the simple reason that when THE RAVEN wrapped he still had star Boris Karloff under contract for three days more--and not being one to waste a dime he quickly came up with a script that could play out on the earlier film's sets and be shot in less than thirty-eight hours.THE TERROR concerns a young French solider (Jack Nicholson, who made several films with Corman early in his career) who is separated from Napoleon's army and finds himself drawn to an isolated castle by the charms of a lovely young woman (Sandra Knight)--but instead of finding her in residence encounters the Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff), an elderly and possibly demented man still mourning the death of his wife some twenty years ago. The plot is loose, to say the least, and Nicholson is hardly any one's idea of a Napoleonic officer, but while THE TERROR isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination it isn't a bad one either--for all its cliches and cheap manipulations, it manages to create an atmosphere that is surprisingly effective.The second feature, however, is really the more interesting of the two. Starring Dick Miller (who also appears in THE TERROR), the 1959 BUCKET OF BLOOD reads very much like an extended episode from the classic t.v. series THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Walter Paisley (Miller) is a geeky wannabe who scrabbles a living as a waiter in a beatnik coffee shop--but when he accidentally kills his landlady's cat he covers it in clay to create an instant sculpture that makes a hit with the club's ever-so-artsy clientele. Needless to say, one thing leads to another, and before too long Paisley is making a hit with life-size sculptures as well.What makes BUCKET OF BLOOD particularly interesting are Corman's florishes of black comedy, grotesque humor, and his constant jabs at the pseudo-artistic crowd that admire Paisley's work. In a year or so more, Corman would ravel much the same thread with the comic story of a mousy florist clerk who grows a sinister plant in the better known LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.The print of THE TERROR (which had Francis Ford Coppola as an assistant producer, no less) is in pretty bad condition: the film is presented in pan-and-scan, the colors are washed out and often fuzzy, and the film is riddled with blips, scratches, and various artifacts. But it is watchable, and I have to say I've never seen a really good print of this film in any release. BUCKET OF BLOOD fares better: while hardly pristine it is fairly crisp in its original black and white. The disk comes with a few lightweight but entertaining extras, including basic information on each movie, trivia, etc.; scene access, however, is extremely limited.Neither of these films should be classed along side the best of Corman's work, but then again neither are they anywhere near the worst of his worst. If you're a Corman fan, they're must-have, and this two-for-one deal is a handy and fairly inexpensive way of picking up both.GFT, Amazon Reviewer"