Director: Alex Stapleton Time Out rating: Japanese title:Corman Teikoku
They call him ‘the king of the Bs,’ but whether or not you think that moniker gives Roger Corman short shrift (as some friends and cohorts do), one look at the producer-director's output – quickie monster movies, biker flicks, '60s druggie dramas, women-in-prison epics and other drive-in fodder – proves the man is truly exploitation-cinema royalty. Alex Stapleton's funky, joyous portrait of this low-budget legend and mentor to New Hollywood's young turks definitely makes a case for Corman being more than a schlockmeister, praising his later distribution of Ingmar Bergman and Fellini movies while reminding us that you do not get Easy Rider, Mean Streets or The Silence of the Lambs without him. But you also wouldn't have works of pleasurably pulpy, unabashedly trashy cinema without Corman – something any well-rounded moviegoer should consider an equally important contribution.
The film also doubles as a tribute to an era before exploitation's instant-gratification blueprints were co-opted; it's a history lesson so compelling that Stapleton's inclusion of contemporary footage – showing Corman gamely working away in Puerto Vallarta on a cheapie for the Sci-Fi Channel called Dinoshark – sometimes pales in comparison. If the meat of Corman's World is witnessing famous directors and movie stars like Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme and Ron Howard reminisce about the past, it's only because the subject's legacy, rather than his currency, is the real story here. Watching Corman yell ‘Cut’ as gallons of fake blood are dumped into the drink is wonderful and all, but sometimes, just seeing a too-cool-for-school Jack Nicholson crying genuine tears when discussing his filmic father figure tells you all you really need to know.