Posts Tagged ‘Roger Corman’

I remember one reviewer noticing that in the 90’s Roger Corman would seemingly blindly hand out  a contract to any Pro- Kickboxer who came knocking at his door. Now, honestly Corman was far from being the only one guilty of this. 80’s and 90’s had a surging VHS market and Action/ Martial Arts film were way more mainstream then these days so lots of Pro- fighters did have their 15 minutes of fame (or a 5- movie deal) and here’s some interesting examples for you:

05.  Curtis Bush (42- 10- 02 KB)

We purposely decided to lead with  the most obscure name off the list and that’s Curtis Bush. Bush was a lanky southpaw fighter with a background in Tang Soo Do (also Chuck Norris‘s first art). He amassed the pro record of 42 wins, 10 loses and 2 draws and also competed in Pro Boxing in parallel.

Beside being a four division champion he also had a burning desire to be in the movies. But, it seems that tall, mustachioed dudes just weren’t the flavor of the day.
He had a small part of a deranged poacher (killed by the star Michael McNamara) in Canadian action movie Dragon Hunt (1990). He also played parts of Foot Soldiers in the first two TMNT movies: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1991) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret of the Ooze (1991). He then tried his hand on the small screen with a TV adaptation of Patrick Swayze’s Roadhouse– that was canceled after only four episodes!

This has to be one of greatest covers to ever grace a VHS tape

But what really makes him worthy of this list is his passion project: The Dark Angel: Psycho Kickboxer! Made for just 10 000 dollars over the course of 5 years Psycho Kickboxer is a real treat for B-movie lovers like us. I mean who can say no to a seemingly deranged man in a Ninja costume running all over town and preventing random acts of violence (with even more violence). It’s painfully low budget and nonsensical but man- it’s a it’s so fun to watch.

Look at him go!

Now, you could say that his acting career went nowhere but he did have background roles as military personnel in couple of big movies in recent times (Battleship, Godzilla) and IMDB does show him as an Admiral in Godzilla vs. Kong (2020), so it seems Psycho finally got the last laugh.

04. Kathy Long (18-1 KB, 2-0 MMA)

Kung Fu San Soo and Aikido practitioner and a pioneer of female Kickboxing in America with an 18-1 record holding WKA, WMAC, ISKA and KICK titles.
She was even a commentator in the first ever UFC event (1993) – even thou she smartly decided not to comment too much– leaving the other absolute Martial Arts legend Bill “Superfoot” Wallace to keep embarrassing himself (famously mispronouncing UFC as Ultimate Fighting Challenge).

Her most significant contribution to the world of film was actually being a stunt/ fight double for Michelle Pfeiffer‘s Catwoman in ‘92‘s Batman Returns by Tim Burton.

Also in ’92 she also appeared as a villain in Rage and Honor featuring Cynthia Rothrock and (our personal favorite) Richard Norton and continued with couple of leads in movies such as post- apocalyptic Knights (1993) and The Stranger (1995). In ’97 she again showed up with Richard Norton in a fun Australian action movie called Under The Gun aka Iron Fist.

She even dabbled back into the competition pool (having come full circle) by having two MMA fights in 2009 and again in 2015. Second one was particularly impressive, wining a fight at 50 years old against an opponent roughly half her age! Definitely an accomplishment.

Even thou her dramatic acting chops where never even remotely sharp as her fighting chops I’m definitely not changing the channel when I see her on a TV.

03. Gary Daniels (31-04 AKB04- 01 KB)

Gary Daniels started as a British Taekwondo practitioner who was famously too brutal for the sport so he eventually transitioned to Amateur and then Pro Kickboxing (even capturing PKA and WKBA titles).  His most famous lead role is in Hokuto No Ken aka Fist of the Northstar that despite it’s budget constraints turned out to be a surprisingly faithful manga adaptation. Unfortunately it wasn’t widely distributed in the US and is today relegated to a Cult Classic status.

He would go on to be the star in countless Kickboxing movies on VHS either as a Hero or as a Villain but beside a Hong Kong stint or two (see Jackie Chan’s City Hunter) his big break wouldn’t happen for years and years…. Not until Stallone chose him to be an Eric Roberts‘s henchman in the first The Expendables (2010). Even in a star- crowded movie like that he did get to shine especially in an excellent two against one fight scene with Jet Li and Jason Statham.

He went on to share the screen with Eric Roberts and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin again in Hunt To Kill and was perfectly cast as a video game character Bryan Fury in not so perfect Tekken (2010). All of that positioned him to the upper levels of action B-movie market in the ’10s and he even returned to his native England for a pair of movies ike Skin Traffik (2015)– again with Roberts (Rourke and Hannah too) and I Am Vengeance (2018) where he went against the WWE superstar Stu Bennet aka Wade Barrett.

But still, being a legit badass (he traveled all the way to Thailand to have a pro Muay Thai match when he was almost 50) with a cool British accent you’d think the sky is the limit, and because of that I feel that he never really fulfilled his true potential.

02. Jerry Trimble (29-2-2 KB)

Trimble started his film career in the 80’s armed with an annoying high- pitched voice, long blond hair and all the sidekicks, hook kicks and spin-kicks you can possibly imagine.

Now, differently then some of the other folks in this list over the years he eventually developed actual acting chops (but he can still pull out those spin kicks from his arsenal if need be) confirmed- by the fact that he is still successfully working today in both film and TV.

Recommended viewing: any of his collaborations with the Filipino Action Maestro Cirio H. Santiago like One Man Army (1994) or Stranglehold (1994). And if you’re really into our kind of craziness he can be seen in Corman produced StarQuest II.

It’s also worth noting that he is adversary in early Jet Li film The Master (1992) where he is at his mighty mulleted ass- kicking best, then his career altering appearance in famed thriller Heat (1995) and of course going toe for toe with Austin 3:16 himself in “Stone Cold” Steve Austin VS Dolph Lundgren feature The Package.

For an American Kickboxer with golden pants- he sure went far.

Trivia: The Package (2013) was actually directed by Jesse V. Johnson who’s slowly but surely becoming a real force to be reckoned with in the action movie industry with films such as British comicbook– adaptation Accident Man (2018) and the Asian Expendables awesomeness that is Triple Threat (2019).

 

01.  Don “The Dragon” Wilson  (72-5-2 KB)

To circle back to the start with Mr. Roger Corman, there’s one kickboxer in particular who made more movies with Corman than anyone else. His name is of course Don “The Dragon” Wilson. Coming from a Kung Fu Pai Lum Kung Fu and Goju-ryu Karate background he competed in Kickboxing on and off until 2002 (with his final exhibition match in 2011).  He amassed an incredible list of titles: IKF, WKA, KICK, ISKA, STAR and the PKO and with wins over such opponents like Dennis Alexio, Oaktree Edwards and Dick Kimbe he is considered one of the greatest American Kickboxers of all time.

His acting career on the other hand was let’s say- slightly less impressive. He started transitioning to movies with a villain role in 1982 Hong Kong movie New York Chinatown aka Xue xi Tang Ren Jie (1988) and made his debut as a lead with Bloodfist– of course a Roger Corman production directed by Terence H. Winkless. And Bloodfist would continue to be his bread and butter as he filmed 8 parts to date!!! Another stand outs are Ring of Fire movies, featuring other famous Martial Artist like Billy Blanks, Michael Jai White and already mentioned Gary Daniels.

Now for us, we prefer the more obscure and odd moments of his filmography like his forays into SF with Virtual Combat (1995) and let us not forget his horror movie Night Walker(1996) (utilizing shaky cam to the max way before it was a fashionable thing to do) with Wilson breaking freaking vampire spines!

After all this time he’s still working and seems to be doing alright for himself but in retrospect he just never had the charisma and elegance of someone like Van Damme that could have pushed him to the real super- stardom. But he did challenge Van Damme to a Kickboxing match, so you got to give him that.

 

 

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Some of you are too young to remember but in the early days there was nothing more disappointing then your favorite TV show (like Star Trek) starting on TV- just for you to find out it was a clip- show episode and you waited in vain. That kind of a thing would completely ruing your day.


Now, even thou that phenomenon was closely related to TV (live action). Now fair share of TV shows and Hanna Barbera cartoons too made a practice of doing that but in reality there was more than a few movies that implemented that same philosophy. Roger Corman was as guilty of that as much (or more than) anyone else. See Carnosaur/ Raptor for some examples.

 

When Frank Gallo approached him about directing a non-related sequel to the Starquest aka Terminal Voyage. I imagine he just waved his hand and said “you can use any of my old SF movies for clips and just keep it under budget”.

Movie starts right away with the clip show montage consisting of anything from Archival NASA footage to Corman’s Battle Beyond Stars all the while playing to 90’s dance beats. Can’t go wrong with that but we have no idea what’s going on.

Now, the film’s actual start has 8 people of all different creeds waking up in a mysterious compound. They are not sure where they are or what’s going on and the first thing they all witness a man in a security uniform being electrocuted by something that looks suspiciously like Hall 9000.

Things get a little heated up, a soldier (fan favorite Adam Baldwin) and ex- con Trent (played by a Kickboxing legend Jerry Trimble) almost come to blows. But then a Priest of undisclosed religion (always fantastic Robert Englund) shows up to greet them and clue them in on their situation. Turns out they are in Space.

Another video-montage played by a board computer (set to a soothing soundtrack) explains the crew that humanity has lost it’s way and heralded it’s own destruction. Then the techno music comes in and we are treated to a number of striping and sex scenes. Now, I know some strippers tend to be crazy but I’m pretty sure they are not to blame for the downfall of human civilization.

 

Then the video shifts to a doctor doing some crazy Re-Animator shit and it abruptly ends with the launch of Omega 4 Spaceship (it’s mission- to save human species). We also see the Alien narrating everything and the costume is funny as it gets (with mouth that can barely move at all). But, that’s Roger Corman/ New Horizons production for you.

Trent and the military personnel get into an argument again but suddenly the ship starts shaking- they are attack by a Reptilian race of aliens (and if conspiracy theories thought us anything,those are the mean ones). Suddenly a cyborg pilot emerges from his sleep and he does his job admirably!

Space fight scene
Star Trek- eat your heart out.

Once his done he returns to his chamber. Trent doesn’t like him one bit and can’t wait to star a fight. In the meantime the bold dude and the black chick are plotting behind Father’s back. It seems they knew about the alien attack and they are not pleased with the result.

Lee (Baldwin) and Susan start discussing their fear that the Earth was destroyed– and that’s the reason they are here. They segued directly into the first sex scene of the movie
(I guess they decided it’s time to start repopulating). The funniest thing is Baldwin has constant Alien Abduction flashbacks– and he can still keep it up! That’s admirable.

fotka

It turns out the death of the first man wasn’t an accident, ’cause they find the blond soldier woman choked to death too. Trent tries to pressure a bold dude to show him how the ship’s computer works but he activates the cyborg the Protector. Trent gets into a brawl with the cyborg and almost dies but the bold dude ends up dying it the end. “Hall” electrocutes his remains too. Englund seems displeased with the development of the situation.

Suspecting everyone and anyone the rest of the crew capture Trent (using his stripper girlfriend as the bait). Black girl seduces another soldier (what she’s up to) and then stripper starts stripping so this becomes one big soft- core “spectacle” in space.

Baldwin uncovers that he was injected with an alien DNA. Black girl finally shows her true colors and starts killing, but not before getting a lap dance herself. Man, this girl is
having a busy night. Hope they tip her well (whatever currency works in space). She and Englund get into an argument which fraction really cares for human- Trent solves the conflict by shooting them up both. Unfortunately he dies himself trying to finish the girl off.

After they are left alone Alien flight attendant video shows up again and we have some more psychedelic imagery (not really the 2001 Space Odyssey level but still).

Verdict: As far as clip show movies gothis one makes no sense but is definitely a good fun- and the cast is surprisingly solid.

And as much as I’m an Adam Baldwin fan (Firefly, Chuck, The Last Ship) my favorite parts of the movie are Jerry Trimble scenes- he finally gets to do some acting in this one in addition to his kickboxing arsenal and he comes across like one of those disturbed gang members from Death Wish III. And also his on- screen girlfriend/ stripper Jeannie Millar is a real sight to behold. I was really disappointed to find she didn’t make that much movies  (except couple Black Scorpion ones for Corman, again) before her untimely death.

Vampirela was for the longest time my white whale something that for years and years seemed just about impossible to find.From the days of VHS tapes to the early  dial-up internet and primitive peer to pear sharing programs (remember WinMX) all the way up to the almighty Russian piracy sites. You could find a cover or a clip or a throwaway line about how bad it is but that was all. Now that technology has finally caught up with the elusive film (even here in Balkans) it is time for better or for the worst to watch the damned thing!

vampirella-rudy-nebresVampirella by one of my all- time favorite artist: Rudy Nebres

First we start with a bit of a history. Vampirella started her life as a comicbook character created by legendary Forrest J. Ackerman in 1969 for Warren’s Publishing company of Horror Magazines (Eerie and Creepy) fame.  Warren fell on some hard times and as we learned watching many B-movies, that’s noting a sexy girl can’t fix– especially if she’s also a vampire. Now, some really talented artist worked on Vampirella and fair share of the comic was a visual treat but even the original 70’s version didn’t have the most impressive writing. We’ll get back to that in a moment.

mv5bztyxzdyzmtmtndm4nc00owjjltkwy2mtmdnmzdrinjcwymixxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjexode1mdc-_v1_Strangely the actual costume in the movie doesn’t look anything like this.

We start our story, 30 centuries ago on a planet Drakulon ( actually footage from Not of This Earth, another Corman production) And yes that’s her actual origin story, since redconed because no one can make the idea of space vampires work. The ruler of the futuristic vampiric world (cheap Christopher Lee knock-off , strange because Christopher Lee himself wasn’t that expensive in the early 90’s) wearing plastic vampire teeth explains to his daughter how in the old days vampires would drain one another to drink (that actually doesn’t make any sense) and now they are technologically superior and they use Drakonic organic blood rivers and streams. There’s so much wrong with that idea that I can’t even begin to explain it.

Of course they cut straight to the person who disobeyed  the rule and drank from other vampires. He is also called Vlad just to make thing super clear. Just when they were about to execute him his compatriots break in and he kills the ruler. Desperate,  the princess Ella vows to avenge her father (thus becoming Vampirella, cleaver ha?) but renegades are already gone in their spaceship Gone to the little blue planet called… EARTH! (Yeah I guess you saw that coming, we did too.)

Couple of thousand years later we see some gang members torturing a poor ugly nerd. Mysterious female figure show up from the dark and saves him.

 

 

 

 

 

That boy is none other that Akerman (the above mentioned author of Ella) himself. He helps her to find the location of  one of the Vlad‘s minions Thraxx (now Dr. Traxx) using the magic of internet  and even gives her some clothes so she doesn’t receive too much attention when she goes out.

movpod-just-watch-it-mp4_000819125Seriously, this is the best you’ve got- I’ve seen cosplayers with 10x better costumes!

In the meantime we see the operation of the P.U.R.G.E. organization strikeforce, offing some vampires in Mexico I believe. That’s mostly interesting just because they wear black garbage bags and sunglasses I guess to protect them from the sun, but mostly because they’re idiots.

movpod-just-watch-it-mp4_000893625Garbage bag- never leave home without it!

And good ol’ condom-head  is still confused why no one thinks he’s dangerous dude! Vampirella tracks down Dr. Traxx and shows him her best Kung Fu moves (not too good). He apparently changed his ways but ends up impaled all the same. Ella manages to follow that up by the worst vampire transformation in the modern history of cinema (going back to the ’50s).

 

 

Impalement followed by a fantastic human to bat transformation, just incredible!

P.U.R.G.E.’s  are torturing one of the condom- heads, fetish looking even without his suit using holly water.He admits that Vlad is operating out of L.A. of all places. And that’s not all- the dude had 3000 years to conquer the freakin’ world and he wasted it all to  pursue a music career.Man, he really is something! Vampirella is also there to see him perform- she doesn’t seem all that impressed.

He shouldn’t leave his day job of world domination for this!

She surprises Vlad but Hellsings surprise them both. They lock them both up but Vlad easily escapes and kills the guards. Young Adam Van Helsing being the only one left teams up with Vampirella to take Vlad down once and for all. They also use the opportunity to exchange their origin stories and we get horrible flashback of  Ella stranded on Mars (which explains her being so late to get to Earth).

movpod-just-watch-it-mp4_002476750“I’m telling you , there’s a half- naked chick over there!”

Unfortunately Adam returns to his home for a bit and gets smacked in the head by couple of porno looking vampire blonds. Vampirella does the only responsible thing,organizes an exchange with P.U.R.G.E., condom- head vampire for young Van Helsing. It all goes wrong as those thing tend to go and both Vampirella and Adam end up captured. Then Vlad tries to make her drink Adam’s blood to finally turn her evil but that doesn’t really work out for him. She does drink his blood but with his blessing and then she turns her new found strength to defeat the Vlad’s empire. He was just inches away of completing his evil plan involving satellites and vampirization of the whole humanity.

 

After the credits roll a sequel was promised  with a ultra- goth name of Death’s Dark Avenger. We’re still waiting for that one, even thou it will probably never happen but with Corman prodaction you just never know. In the meantime you can enjoy this song.

 

 

Verdict: Vampirella movie actually had some potential, even as a B movie but for that to work you would have to go all in with the Hard R and do not skimp on nudity and gore. Even Talisa Soto (Mortal Kombat, Licence to Kill) was not a bad choice, even though she definitely needed to gain a few pounds so she can fill the iconic skimpy suit properly. Unfortunately Wynorski and Corman decided to go straight for camp, and managed to extract all the worst parts of a comic and  the effects well, they look like Corman hand drew them on film himself! That is even a real possibility given how historically cheap he could be.

One of the redeeming values of this movie is of course Roger Daltrey (of The Who fame) who’s performance is so over the top that you have no choice but be entertained by it.

 

 

 

We already talked about Corman’s never (officially) released Fantastic Four movie  at great length couple years ago. In this article we also mentioned at that time work-in-progress documentary from the writer/ director Marty Langford shining a light on this fascinating subject.

MV5BMjAyMDA1MDYxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTIwNzI2OTE@._V1_SY1000_SX675_AL_… and this is a story of that movie!

If you don’t know the story- German producer Bernd Eichinger tried to get the right for a Fantastic Four movie in the early 1980’s and finally succeeded in 1986. He bought the right for non- glamorous price of quarter a million (remember those were the Dark Ages of Marvel adaptations). Now, unfortunately the rights were about to expire on December 31, 1992 and the movie didn’t even start the production.

Eichinger desperately asked for an extension from Marvel but he got none. So he did the only thing he could– he called B-Movie Grandmaster Roger Corman! Corman being Corman agreed to fast forward the movie and film it for just one million. And  after all that effort the movie was never to be released with Stan Lee claiming it was never meant to be released at all (and it exists solely to extend the rights) with Eichinger and Corman claiming they seriously planned to have it released in the cinemas.

Whatever the truth may be Fantastic Four(1994) will not be released but the documentary Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four has a firm release date as of now! We can enjoy the crazy story of the FF on VOD in October 11, 2016 before it hits the DVD on December 20, 2016. Sing and rejoice!

deathrace_article

The fact that many of his much younger coworkers started dying in last one year or so, didn’t prevent Roger Corman  from continuing to make  cult movies (more cult than movies truth to be told). Unexpectedly the most prolific B- Movie producer of all times  decided to remake a remake of his own film, legendary Death Race 2000 (Stallone, David Carradine), now Death Race 2050!

The filming is underway right this moment in Peru staring surprisingly potent cast of Mannu Benett (Chronicles of Shanara, Arrow, Spartacus), Malcom McDowell (Clockwork Orange, Halloween, Class of 1999) and Yancy Butler (Kick-Ass, Hard Target, Witchblade).

Deathrace

“This is an amazing opportunity for me and millions of Death Race 2000 fans to experience the intensity, thrills and dark humor of the original, fueled by a terrific young cast, spectacular vehicles and side-splitting action, literally” said Corman.

death-race-720x916

New York Comic-Con limited edition poster via IGN

This weekend after a great deal of drama, turmoil,  re-shoots  and rumors of director being removed from the final editing process new adaptation of Fantastic Four finally hit the big screen. As expected the reviews, one worse than the next started pouring in and after a while even the director Josh Trank decided to wash his hands of it and point the finger elsewhere.  Box-office expectations went from 50 to 40 to 30 million (and F4 didn’t even menage to get that- it earned 26.2 mill. in the end).

FF Tweet

As it often happens in this internet age in a less then a few hours new F4 became the most universally hated super- hero movie since 1997’s Batman & Robin (and that’s really saying something). Now as we lament another horrible attempt of adapting relatively straightforward SF/ Adventure comicbook let us remember  another Fantastic Four adaptation, the one that never got to the big screen…

FF

Setting some new records for comicbook adaptations!

Yes, we’re talking about  Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four! And yes, Corman’s F4 is by the numbers, cheap B Movie adaptation but it still menages to keep most of the elements that make Fantastic Four, well- fantastic! Hell, with a bit more on the budget side and a tighter script it could have been one of better super- hero flicks of it’s day.

The same can’t be said for Trank’s F4, nothing could have saved that mess. Fox should have been smart and pulled the plug on it before it was too late. But, what’s done is done. Hopefully rights finally revert back to Marvel, they did pretty damn good when that happened with Daredevil.

We’ll begin this news bulletin by schooling you in Serbian royal history. Why would you EVER need that? Hold on tight, you’ll find out in just a second.

Princess Elizabeth Karadjordjevic is the only daughter of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia ( he served as a regent for his cousin King Peter II of Yugoslavia) and Princess Olga of Greece/Denmark. Her first marriage was with  an American clothing manufacturer Howard Oxenberg and they have two daughters from the relationship- older being Catherine Oxenberg (Kатарина Оксенберг).

 276599_mdf41425_fCatherine with her mother, Princess Elizabeth Karadjordjevic

Catherine started her career in acting with a TV movie about Charles and Diana and continued with TV show like mega popular Dynasty and short lived action spectacle that is Acapulco H.E.A.T. But in the end the most important thing that came out of her acting career was meting her future husband Casper Van Dien ( Starship Troopers and almost nothing else worth mentioning).

51hR0R9F27L        Still popular in Germany!

Naturally they collaborated on numerous projects including “I Married A Princess”. Now, they finally made the ultimate (B) movie together, third film in the SyFy series- Roger Corman produced Sharktopus VS Whalewolf!!! The premiere date is July 19, so mark it on your calendar.

 

 

So while you enjoy the historical showdown between the Sharktopuss and his new arch nemesis the Whalewolf pay attention to the Nazi looking scientist Dr. Reinhardt and remember- she is our royalty and yes, we apologize.