Review by Gordon Justesen
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: See Review
Length: 89 Minutes
Release Date: March 27, 2012
“The difference between the image you present to the world and what's going on inside, in your unconscious mind, is significant. I've been told that my image is I'm just sort of an ordinary straight guy. Clearly, my unconscious mind is some sort of a boiling inferno there.”
Although he didn't make the highest quality of films, there's never been a filmmaker like Roger Corman, and the chances of there being another one like him are ultimately slim. Corman wasn't simply a filmmaker, he was something of an innovator as well as a tremendously smart businessman. He's made over 400 movies since the 1960s, and the man still continues to work at age 86 (I'm guessing someone is wanting to tell Clint Eastwood to eat his heart out).
Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel is a most fun retrospective documentary chronicling the one of a kind career of the man pretty much responsible for pioneering super low budget independent filmmaking. As far as documentaries go, it's miles away from gripping as what we get here is mainly an array of talking head bits and archival footage from many of Corman's noteworthy productions. But anyone fascinated by the man and low budget/exploitation movies is bound to get more than a kick out of this.
Roger Corman's success story has to be the rarest form, especially in today's moviemaking system. By not concentrating on quality, he was able to take the most minimal movie budget one could think of, churn out a cheesefest of a film and profit hugely in the end. What Hollywood wasn't aware of is that there were audiences yearning to see movies with such titles as Attack of the Crab Monsters, Monster From the Ocean Floor, She Gods of Shark Reef and ESPECIALLY Death Race 2000.
Of course, just like traditional big budget moviemaking, Corman's approach wasn't always easy. But his philosophy was simply this: stay on budget and take advantage of every minute of every work hour of every day of shooting, the rewards would be nothing but great. Oh and make sure an abundance of kill shots, explosions and frequent close ups of female funbags in every picture.
But Corman did have something of an artistic side lingering underneath his exploitative persona. The best example is a very little seen film he directed titled The Intruder, a serious look at racial tensions in the deep south that is nothing like what one would have expected someone like Corman to make. And the star of that movie, you ask? A certain man with the last name SHATNER!
I mentioned the talking head bits in this documentary, and they happen to include many famous faces and talents. Among them are Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese (who even recalls approaching Corman to produce Mean Streets), Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, Peter Fonda, Pam Grier, Ron Howard and the late David Carradine. Every person interviewed know the man very well, and it shows in what they have to say!
Corman's World is quite an exhilarating reflection on a one of a kind career of a truly one of a kind filmmaker. Having seen only several of his productions, I was extremely curious to learn all that I could about Mr. Corman, and this documentary does a most satisfying job of detailing every important aspect of Corman and his legacy. Not a groundbreaking doc, but fun, short and sweet...like the many movies he produced!
Of course, documentaries are not known for their visual beauty or, for that matter, appearance in HD. Nevertheless, this Blu-ray release from Anchor Bay is finely detailed in the talking head interview bits. Where it doesn't necessarily soar is in the display of footage from Corman's films, which is to be expected. Pretty much about as good as a film of this genre can be presented on Blu-ray.
Although, once again, much of this presentation is made up of aged, archival footage from films recorded in monaural sound. However, this documentary gets a boost in the form of a Dolby TrueHD mix. This mainly helps showcase the lively music bits and energetic edit cuts between interviews and film clips. Spoken words are delivered nice and clearful, in addition...which is all that really matters in a documentary anyway, right?
Among the extras we get here are some Extended Interviews with the likes of Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme and Eli Roth, as well as “Special Messages to Roger”, which includes an added gallery of filmmakers and actors extending their thanks to Corman. Lastly, there is a Trailer for the film.
If you're curious at all to find out all you can about the legendary filmmaking institute that is Roger Corman, then look no further than Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel. You'd be hard pressed to find another living filmmaker who mirrors Corman's approach to making movies, and this doc perfectly illustrates that.