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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.”

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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