#KreativeKills

#Sharktopus is returning. I asked you for your #KreativeKills.

“How do YOU want to see #Sharktopus kill someone?”

With love Roger.. With love – @DeanGrayFilm

Cuddled to death! – @whydoisay

Sharktopus should toy with them- create vortex by swimming around them quickly- a mass of blood and bubbles – @knightofgood

With kindness. – @VeraCruzTX

Not enough bicyclists gets it! – Fred Anderson

softly, with his song. – Henrique Couto

Tug of war with Mermantula. – Walt Who

Sharktopus should kill them with extremely bad dialogue. – Jonathan Gray
ImBack

#RogerCormanProblems: Round 1

Roger’s gotta get a monster head down to the Dominican Republic. Roger’s fans on facebook and twitter weigh in on #RogerCormanProblems. They were all excellent, here are a few:

1,996 more prequels until DEATH RACE 2000. – @VforVashaw

This Carnosaur has to be amortized over 9 movies. That’s $50 per film. – @manatee73

We’ve got Karloff for two more days and we need another script. – @TheMike31

I’m trying to trick some Cuban nationals out of their gold by having one of my henchmen pretend to be a monster. He’s doing an OK job, but he just killed two Cubans when I told him to kill one. – Bill Adcock

Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel

Introduction

Directed by Alex Stapleton, this documentary celebrates the career and legacy of Roger Corman. It features clips from various Corman films, interviews with major Hollywood players whose careers he launched, and interviews with Corman and his associates. The documentary is now available for purchase on Blue Ray and DVD and for rental on Netflix.

Corman’s Story

Roger Corman’s film career was astoundingly productive. Credited for producing 385 films, Corman began his film career working as a story analyst for 20th Century Fox. He left when Fox used some of his ideas without crediting him and began producing films on his own, creating his first film Monster from the Ocean Floor in 1954. He then joined Nicholson and Arkoff of American International Pictures, where he continued to direct and produce films. Having never gone to film school, Corman learned the art of film-making through direct experience.

In the 1960’s, Corman produced and directed his critically acclaimed Poe Movies, a series of 6 films based on Edgar Allen Poe’s horror stories. Having successfully diverged from his more lighthearted films, Corman experimented with daring social commentary in his film The Intruder, which deals with integration in the South. Though a great artistic achievement, The Intruder was a commercial failure whose polarizing portrayal of racism alienated many movie goers.

Corman’s experience with The Intruder reinforced his intuition that “the public really is the ultimate arbiter of your film.” He learned to choose topics with commercial appeal, and went on to make a series of hugely successful films that featured popular topics while dealing with deeper social issues in the subtext.

Corman’s Legacy

Corman developed a distinctive style that was action-packed, rebellious, and humorous, all within the constraints of the low budget film. Indeed, he embraced the limitations of working on a low budget, which allowed for the spontaneity and camp his audiences have grown to love and expect.

With the release of higher budget films like Jaws and Star Wars that borrowed from Corman’s style, the public began to expect a different kind of movie, one that cost up to $40 million to produce. As the heyday of the low budget drive-in film drew to a close, Corman changed with the times, producing films directly for television or purchase.

This documentary poignantly chronicles the dwindling of Corman’s place in Hollywood while celebrating his continued impact not only through his current productions but through the careers of his proteges and his enduring influence on Hollywood’s cinematic style. Stapleton features interviews from several of the writers, directors, and actors Corman mentored, most notably Martin Scorcese, Ron Howard, and Jack Nicholson. In a particularly touching scene, Jack Nicholson tearfully expresses his gratitude for the instrumental role Roger Corman played in launching his career.

The film closes with footage of Roger Corman accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2009 Oscar Governor’s Awards. He ends his acceptance speech with an encapsulation of the secret behind his cinematic success: “Keep gambling. Keep taking chances.”

The Dunwich Horror: Roger Corman’s Take on a Classic Lovecraft Tale

The Story

The Dunwich Horror, based on H.P. Lovecrafts’ eponymous short story, centers around the enigmatic character of Wilbur Whateley, who tries to summon ancient gods known as “The Old Ones” by performing a pagan ritual from the Necronomicon, an Arabic book on the occult.

The film introduces to the story a female lead, Nancy Wagner (played by Sandra Dee), a co-ed who finds herself entranced by Wilbur. She first sees him while she is returning the Necronomicon to the Miskatonic University Library for Dr. Armitage, a professor who had just finished giving a lecture on the book. She agrees to let him peruse the Necronomicon even though it is a rare and valuable artifact and the library is closing and drives him to his home in Dunwich where he drugs her. Drugged and under the influence of Wilbur’s preternatural charm, Nancy agrees to spend the weekend at the Whateley house, unaware of the dark ritual Wilbur has planned for her.

Dean Stockwell as Wilbur Whateley

Stockwell steals the show with his exageratedly creepy portrayal of Wilbur Whateley. From the intense expression in his eyes to his monotone, awkwardly halting speech, every that Wilbur does is unnerving. Stockwell’s over the top creepiness, along with his afro and mustache, lighten the mood of the film with a campy, seventies vibe.

After his performance in The Dunwich Horror, Dean Stockwell, a former child actor, went on to star as John Cavil in the 2006 remake of “Battlestar Galactica”, Mark Whiting in the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate,  Colonel Grat in the 2002 TV series “Star Trek: Enterprise” (2002). He has gone on to receive an Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1988 film Married to the Mob and 4 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his role in the 1989 “Quantum Leap”.

Reinterpreting Lovecraft

The Dunwich Horror remodels the Lovecraftian sense of the supernatural and the unimaginable, portraying it visually and musically as late sixties psychedelia. The atmospheric soundtrack and avante garde cinematography–which includes indirect camera angles, layered scenes, flashing colored lights, and Vaseline-smeared camera lenses–create the impression of an acid trip gone eerily wrong.

This feeling of psychedelic horror reaches the first of several climaxes in the scene where Elizabeth unwittingly releases Wilbur Whateley’s monstrous twin.

In addition to putting a psychedelic spin on Lovecraftian horror, the film adds a female lead and makes the sexual undertones in the story (which Lovecraft merely hints at) explicit. A brief romance occurs between Wilbur and Nancy, who is mysteriously drawn to him despite warnings from her friend Elizabeth and Dr. Armitage. Also, in the film, Whateley attempts to summon the Old Ones by having their leader, Yog Sothoth, impregnate a scantily clad Nancy while in the original story he tries to summon them by simply reciting verses of the Necronomicon.

Release and Legacy

The Dunwich Horror was released on January 14, 1970. Though the final scene of the film, which shows Nancy pregnant with Yog Sothoth’s supernatural seed, seems to set up a sequel, no sequel was ever made. In 2009, however, another film verson of “The Dunwich Horror” premiered on SyFy. Though not a remake or sequel, it also stars Dean Stockwell, this time ironically in the role of Dr. Armitage, Wilbur Whateley’s nemesis.

G.J. Echternkamp on Virtually Heroes

If there’s one thing Roger Corman is known for, it’s probably Little Shop of Horrors, but if there’s one other thing, it’s giving a lot of famous filmmakers their first big break. Such illustrious names as James Cameron, John Landis, Dennis Hopper and Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese are among the alumni of the “Roger Corman Film School” and to this day, Roger is still taking chances on promising young directors.
One such director is G.J. Echternkamp, who’s helming the latest Roger Corman production, Virtually Heroes. Echternkamp had cut his teeth on documentaries and short films, but this was his first full-length narrative feature.
Virtually Heroes is the story of a video game character that grows tired of running the same missions over and over again, and begins to wonder if there’s more to life than being a tough-guy soldier in a simulation of the iu I caught up with the young director and asked him about Virtually Heroes, working with Roger, and how a Roger Corman production differs from any other.

Where did you get the idea for Virtually Heroes?

Roger wanted to make a Vietnam film and the tricky part was how to make it relevant today. So the writer, Matt Yamashida, and I brainstormed a whole lot of ideas on how to make Vietnam relevant to today.
Make it about the Ultimate Fighting Championships, and hire a couple of UFC guys to star in it. Another was to make Osama Bin Laden, and how he actually got started in the Vietnam

Osama: the early years?

Yeah, and you didn’t know he was in Vietnam, but he was there. Our other idea was to make it about a video game. We actually thought that one might be too modern for Roger, but it was the one he liked. So then Matt and I sat down and tried to figure out exactly how to make it about a Vietnam videogame.

How did you first encounter Roger Corman?

Through my mom, actually, she got a job working for him years ago. She’d been working at a school, and she was looking for something in the entertainment industry. She was bored at her old job. She didn’t know Roger Corman. So she tells me she’s working for this Corman guy and I was like: “Holy s***! You’re working for Roger Corman?”

What are the major differences between shooting a documentary and shooting a narrative film?

The shooting process is completely different. At the end of the day you still have to tell a story but with a documentary you just film and film and don’t know what you’re going to end up with. Shooting from a script is different. It’s definitely more stressful. You know what you’re going to end up with, but you gotta get everything on the page onto the screen. To do that you have to work fast, and sometimes make compromises.

What kind of compromises?

Well, you run out of time and you run out of money. There were lots of times I would have wanted explosions, rocket launchers, things blowing up, but there’s only a number of times that we could do that. Of course it was great that we could do that at all. Sometimes we’d have to cut a shot, or a line of dialogue. Of course everyone has to do that, even big movies have to do it.

What was it like working on a Corman production?

Fun and stressful, really kind of a “fly by the seat of your pants” experience. There were a lot of problems to solve, and you have a limited number of resources, and you’re constantly solving a crisis every five minutes. Luckily we had a great group of people to help work through the crises.

And how is a Roger Corman production different from any other?

I’ve directed shorts and music videos and been on sets, and it’s very different. When you have a lot of money you can take your time. I was actually in the movie Almost Famous. I was in a short classroom scene. It was a short scene, but we probably shot about a hundred takes, from all different angles and in all sorts of different ways. Of course, when you’re on a tight schedule you can’t do that. You have to trust your actors, and you don’t have a lot of leeway. You have to get people that you trust to get it right in just two or maybe three times. I’ve also worked in commercials, and there you have a whole day just to shoot thirty seconds. We had to shoot about ten minutes in a day, or more.

So now that you’ve shot, where are you in the process of finishing Virtually Heroes?

I’m editing right now. Once it’s edited, we’re gonna do color correction and visual effects and a final audio mix. We still have a long way to go, but editing is a big part of that. And I’m editing it myself, actually.

And when can we expect to see Virtually Heroes?

Hopefully it should be done around March.

Any closing remarks?

I’m excited. I think it’ll be really be neat, one of the most original Roger Corman productions to come out in a really long time.