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Roger Corman & Charlie Band, legends of genre cinema. Combined, the 2 have produced almost 700 films. Both resumes feature a long list of classics and “cult classics” (more so Corman), as well as more than a handful of films that I’m sure each would rather forget. Now, in “Kings of Cult” (available on Full Moon Streaming), they sit down to discuss their careers, as well as the history and future of genre film-making and distribution.
The interview starts with Corman talking about his newer made-for-SyFy films, such as Sharktopus, Dinoshark, and Whalewolf. Band covers his upcoming projects, such as Evil Bong: High Five, as well as the recently announced 11th film in the Puppet Master series. Not much info is really given about either title beyond their being in development.
Talk then turns to Band’s father, director/producer Albert Band (I Bury the Living, Ghoulies II). Band speaks of living in Paris and Italy for 15 years as a child as his family followed their father oversees for his film productions. It was during this time that Band discovered his love for Italy, as well as it’s being a cheaper place to produce films than in America, which would inspire some of his own later productions being made there. Band also briefly mentions some of the stars he met through his father, including an alleged evening of being babysat by Marilyn Monroe.
The focus then shifts to Corman as he briefly discusses making films in the 50’s and early 60’s, in particular his Poe adaptations with Vincent Price. He also delves into his turn towards more “socially aware” films, focusing on The Wild Angels. He also recounts the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Fest, as well as the American State Department’s attempt to have the film pulled for not portraying “an accurate depiction of American life.”
Both men agree that one of the biggest changes in making film today is in the portability and lighter weight of the equipment. Due to the size and weight of equipment in earlier days, it could take as long as a couple of hours to set up between scenes, where as the same can now be done in a matter of minutes. It appears that both men have embraced the turn to digital film-making due to the increased cost of film.
When the topic of each man’s labels comes up, Corman says that he started New World out of boredom, while Band admits to starting Empire because he felt that he was losing too much of a cut from the profits by letting other studios distribute his films instead of doing it himself. This also leads into some discussion about the video rental landscape of the 1980’s, as well as the newer platform of digital releasing. Both men appear quite sad when they talk about the decreased cut that filmmakers and production companies get in the new download-happy environment. If there’s one thing that we ALL know about Corman and Band, it’s that both men REALLY like making money.
The interview nears its end with Band speaking in detail about the marketing behind Ghoulies, Empire’s 1st successful theatrical release. I was quite surprised to learn that not only was Ghoulies planned as a 3D release, but that at least 1/3rd of the film was even shot in 3D. Band finally decided against that idea as it was Empire’s 1st film released own their own and Band wanted it to succeed or fail (preferably succeed) on its own merits. He tells a story of a pothead friend, a “premiere” trailer editor (who allegedly cut the trailer for Star Wars), who came up with the poster and tagline after a “burn session”.
Band also relays a humorous anecdote of trying to get the movie passed by the ratings boards. As it seems that no one actually watched the film, the film was assumed to be a comedy due to its poster image, and was given a PG-13 rating. The film also received a green-band trailer, which meant that the TV spots were allowed to be played at any time of the day. This even included Saturday mornings when small children were gathered around their TV’s watching cartoons. This tactic infuriated quite a few parents as the small children they were trying so hard to potty train had now found yet another reason to avoid the toilet.
Charlie actually turns down a chance to talk about the Puppet Master series, Full Moon’s cash-cow that was, arguably, milked dry 20 years ago. This will undoubtedly disappoint the remaining fans that the series has left, but what is more disappointing is the lack of focus on so many of both men’s films. Corman talks in detail about The Wild Angels, Grand Theft Auto, and the Poe films, while Band only goes in-depth about Ghoulies, while briefly mentioning Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn and Parasite 3D.
As the feature is only 52 minutes long, I do feel that it would have greatly benefited by padding out the run time with clips, trailers, and on-set photos. While fans of these gentlemen are obviously the target audience, the casual viewer may appreciate seeing at least a glimpse of the movies being spoken of. The added footage would have also broken up the monotony of watching these 2 ramble on, in particular Band. Even he was aware of his long-winded answers.
The interview closes with Band reminiscing about his friend and long-time collaborator, visual effect genius, David Allen. Allen passed in 1999 after losing his battle with cancer. His long career featured not only the early Puppet Master films, but also films such as Willow, Freaked, The Howling, and Twilight Zone: The Movie. Allen was also nominated for an Oscar of his work on 1986’s Young Sherlock Holmes. Band also discusses The Primevals, an unfinished project that Allen had been working on for over 20 years.
Kings of Cult isn’t for everyone. It’s not even something that I’d recommend to ALL of these guys’ fans. There are those who know the accomplishments of their film careers (more so Corman) and will just be happy hearing these 2 vets tell some stories (more so Corman). And for that select few, this entire review was pointless. You’re gonna watch it no matter what I said.