Celebrating Roger Corman With Blood, Breasts, Beasts and “Sharktopus”

Celebrating Roger Corman With Blood, Breasts, Beasts and “Sharktopus” (photo)

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“I know when most people go to see documentaries, they expect to learn something,” said “Machete Maidens Unleashed” director Mark Hartley before the film’s Fantastic Fest premiere. “If you expect to learn something, you should go outside and read a book for the next 85 minutes.”

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Paramount – you do learn quite a bit about the Filipino exploitation films of the 1960s and ’70s from Hartley’s follow-up to his wildly entertaining history of the Australian exploitation film, “Not Quite Hollywood,” even if it’s not what you’d quite expect. Like that film, “Machete Maidens Unleashed” is often more fun than the films it tells the behind-the-scenes stories of since it freely uses the money shots and arrives bursting with energy to spare. At once, the film is a tribute to native Filipino directors Cirio Santiago, Bobby Suarez and Gerardo de Leon, who built an industry out of “blood, breasts and beasts” and benefited from the Philippines’ tropical locale and cheap labor, while it also diverges into a loving biography of Roger Corman, who seized upon the land of low production costs for his women-in-prison flicks like “The Big Doll House.”

Not surprisingly, the lack of dull bits pleased Corman, who came out with his wife and producing partner Julie during the “Machete Maidens Unleashed” Q & A to join the conversation and present his own latest film, the SyFy production “Sharktopus.” For fans still reeling from the ample use of footage from “Black Mama, White Mama” and “The Big Bird Cage” in Hartley’s film, the Cormans offered a ray of hope when they jointly said a return to the Philippines might be on the horizon (“We’ve been talking to Cirio [Santiago]’s son Chris, Julie said; somewhere longtime admirer Quentin Tarantino’s ears were burning).

09252010_RogerCorman.jpgFantastic Fest co-founder Tim League made clear his appreciation for the Cormans, saying that Fantastic Fest and to a large extent, the Alamo Drafthouse itself, was “built on the shoulders” of Corman’s extensive filmography. (As it turns out, both League and Roger Corman were engineering students before turning to film – “Where did we go wrong?” Corman joked.) But the festival made the honor official when former New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell strutted out on stage with a giant sword to present to the Cormans as the Syfy Imagine Greater Lifetime Achievement Award. Mitchell delivered a tribute rooted in Roger Corman and Mitchell’s shared birthplace of Detroit, “where, by the way, this would be a bread knife” Mitchell said, brandishing the unwieldy blade.

Citing his ability to “take a maligned form and turn it into something that mattered” and “pick talent,” Mitchell compared Roger Corman to another Detroit legend, Motown founder Berry Gordy, before kneeling down to hand he and Julie Corman the sword. Mitchell made a point of calling Julie “one of the most overlooked talents in film” and referenced one of the Cormans’ many discoveries for an analogy, saying “without Gale Anne Hurd, there would be no James Cameron.” Upon receiving the sword, Julie quipped, “I need a new dress and you need chainmail,” looking at Roger who was quick to respond with worry about carrying the sword through airplane security for the flight home. (Apparently, the Cormans were last in Austin to see their son win a volleyball tournament, so as Julie noted, “We just think of this as awards city.”)

Still, as always, the Cormans were steadfast in promoting the movie at hand, “Sharktopus,” which they did with their usual relish, and will be back this evening for a screening of Roger’s “X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes.”

When asked by an audience member if Roger ever plans to return to directing after all but giving it up to concentrate on producing (he’s credited with 1990’s “Frankenstein Unbound,” but mostly retired from the director’s chair in 1971), he replied, “At my age, it’s easier to arrive at 9:30 than 7 a.m. as a director” before adding “unless I get some idea. If I get an idea tomorrow, I might be directing next week.”


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.