Another week, another pile of awesomely bad Roger Corman
re-releases from the good folks at Shout! Factory
. While there are always lots of new films getting their first home release each week to check out, and certainly lots of classic stuff finally moving onto HD, there’s nothing I look forward to more than these tarnished gems. There’s something wonderful about a company really putting in the effort to give b-grade cult films the same care and love that a company like Criterion
does with art films. It’s important to remember as well, that in many ways, these silly movies are historical markers. You never know what big Hollywood name you’ll see in the credits who got their start working for Corman
. But enough ass-kissing. On with the movies!
No big surprise this 1978 comedy horror is getting a re-release, what with the Alexandre Aja
(in name, anyway) about to come out in theaters. Lots of familiar folks showed up to star in the new version who, you KNOW
, wouldn’t have dreamed of being in a film called “Piranha 3D”
without it having some beloved lineage. The original was one of the more famous of Corman
’s leg-up movies for young creators. Joe Dante
got his first real break in being able to direct it, and it was the first produced film written by the young and legendary John Sayles
. Sure, it’s hard while watching “Piranha”
to see evidence of the talents that would later direct such great films as “Gremlins”
and write significant films like “Lone Star”
but hey....everybody’s gotta start somewhere.
An insurance investigator (Heather Menzies
) and a local asshole she hires as a guide (Bradford Dillman
) while looking for a group of missing teenagers, come across an abandoned military compound with odd hybridized things in jars. The guy in charge of watching the place who jumps out at them and promptly and inappropriately gets his ass kicked and tied up, is a doctor (Kevin McCarthy
). He tells them, after they drain an outside pool into the nearby lake (for reasons apparent only to John Sayles
), that they’ve let loose a school of bio-engineered super-piranha, originally made, but never used, as a weapon in the Vietnam war. Luckily, there’s not only a summer camp nearby filled with kids but also a giant summer festival near the lake with hundreds of drunken young people. Luckily because there’s gonna be lots and lots of gory kills. Hey, super-piranhas gotta eat too. Do not oppress super-piranha. There will be trouble.
The blu-ray edition looks pretty good (original quality of the print notwithstanding) and is for the first time, in anamorphic widescreen, but it’s the extras, once again, that make this a worthwhile purchase. A new featurette, “The Making of Piranha”
is a lovely 20 minutes of interviews with Corman
, Dick Miller
, Joe Dante
, and a lot of the other actors sharing their memories. There’s also: A commentary with Dante
and the other producer, Jon Davison
; Ten minutes of behind the scenes footage with commentary; 7 minutes of bloopers and outtakes; 14 minutes of deleted and extended scenes; Stills galleries; Radio and TV spots that are actually funny and worth checking out; Trailers; A sweet full color booklet
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (Blu-Ray and DVD)
This 1980 Corman
schock-fest was originally called “Monster”
, with the “Humanoids”
title being written in smaller type underneath it, but it should have been called ‘Rape Monsters’
if they were looking for more drive-in appeal. It certainly would have been the more accurate title. Big, shambling, ooky, gooey, rape monsters from the deep. With an unfortunately (for them) obvious exploitable flaw.
Seriously, what are the odds they’ll figure it out?
There’s not much of a plot, really. A corporate group is looking into building a big cannery in a small fishing town which is awesome news to some of the more rough and tumble working folk of the area (notably, Vic Morrow
) and not such good news to the local Native American tribe who have a claim on the fishing rights. While the fishermen throw racial slurs around and threaten the lone Indian we actually get to see (Anthony Pena
), giant fish monsters are wandering around, scooping up hot chicks and raping with gusto. You know they wouldn’t sleep with the FEMALE giant fish monsters. Those bitches are nasty, know wut I’m sayin’? Giant fish monsters got to get LAID, son. Of course, these fish monsters come from a nasty miscalculation that is the result of genetic experiments performed by the corporation and their hot scientist rep (Ann Turkel
). She and local good guy Jim
) figure out that something went wrong and try to stop the town’s local carnival from happening before someone gets hurt. I know it’s a spoiler but....fail, Jim
Once again, there’s a host of sweet bonus features on the blu-ray to go with the nice upgrade to HD that surprisingly makes the monsters look better, not worse (probably due to the work of a young Rob Bottin
who designed them). The features are: 7 minutes of deleted scenes featuring even MORE gore and nudity, and the film already has A LOT of both; “Making of”
23 minute feature with lots of interviews, including James Horner
who did the score; Leonard Maltin
interviews Roger Corman
; Radio and television spots; Poster gallery; Trailers
I must be spoiled by all these other releases because without knowing a THING about either one of these two post-apocalyptic Corman
films, I was grousing about them not being put out on Blu-Ray. But then I watched them. OH
. Yeah, not as good. Perhaps it’s something intrinsic to the nature of horror as a genre specifically, with its payoff of gore scenes, but it’s one of the only genres that have just as much appeal with the b-movies as with the a-listers. At least for me anyways. "Deathsport"
is a 1978 film with David Carradine
centerfold Claudia Jennings
as “Range Guides”
, nomadic bad-asses who don’t wear much in the way of clothes and carry around giant ridiculous clear plastic ‘swords’. They try to live independent of any of the other post-apocalyptic bullshit going on, namely the conflict between the two city states, the peaceful Tritan and the war-like Helix. But Helix has developed a series of games to replace the death penalty involving ‘death machines’
which are just dirt bike motorcycles equipped with fricking lasers. In order to keep the bloodthirsty populace amused, the crazed city leader (David McLean
) has ordered his troops to start capturing the bad-ass Guides in order to prove the superiority of his new technology. Oops. Bad call, brutha. Even with Carradine
’s nemesis in charge of the operation (Richard Lynch
, the Billy Drago
of the eighties) it’s a fail
waiting to happen.
I know this got made because the MUCH superior “Death Race 2000”
was such a hit. Don’t get fooled. This is of appeal maybe ONLY to folks who love watching dirt bike racing. Because at least 40 percent of this movie is nothing but watching stunt people on bikes do just that and not with any level of excitement to it either. Terrible effects, no gore (laser cannons everyone carries around cause folks to merely disappear), and a senseless and all but action-less story...don’t bother.
Much better is “Battletruck”
, originally with the superior title of “Warriors of the 21st Century”
. Similar to “The Road Warrior”
, the story takes place in a post-apoc (I’m getting tired of writing the whole word out) with not much gasoline left, and evil mercenaries gathering as much as they can and terrorizing peaceful local settlements. The fly in the ointment for evil is Hunter
) a motorcycle riding super-guy who rescues the daughter of the evil Straker
. Sadly, she doesn’t feel like she should tell anyone at her new hippy settlement he drops her off at that her douchey and Battletruck-equipped Dad is probably gonna come looking for her. Soon, it’s machine vs machine as a young John Ratzenberger
gear up to take down the mighty truck.
Actually bothering with characterization helps! “Battletruck”
may not win any awards, but it gets the job done in a palatable fashion and even has some pretty impressive battle scenes (considering the budget). Its mysterious boob-less nature aside, ‘Battletruck’
is the one to watch on this set, with enough scheming villainy, well-coifed heroics, and exploding motor vehicles to make any cheesy early 80’s film buff happy. I mean, the Battletruck
itself is no Megaweapon
, that's for sure. But it'll do.CLICK HERE TO BUY Piranha (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) [Blu-ray]CLICK HERE TO BUY Humanoids from the Deep (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) [Blu-ray]CLICK HERE TO BUY Death Sport / Battle Truck (Roger Corman's Cult Classics)