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 Posted:   Jul 10, 2024 - 12:17 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

GAS-S-S-S co-starred several actors who were to make names for themselves in later years, including Bud Cort, Talia Shire, Ben Vereen, and Cindy Williams, who made her feature film debut in the picture. In the film, an experimental nerve gas is accidentally released from a defense plant in Alaska, and the aging process of everyone over 25 is speeded up to such an extent that they are doomed to die within a matter of days. As alarmed reactionary elements in Dallas turn Texas into a police state, “Coel” (Robert Corff) and “Cilla” (Elaine Giftos), both under 25, set out to find a new life. After their car is stolen by a modern-day Billy the Kid (George Armitage), they realize that many of their own generation are simply repeating the patterns and prejudices of their elders. Eventually teaming up with four other young people—“Hooper” (Cort), “Coralie” (Shire), “Carlos” (Vereen), and “Marissa” (Williams)—they head for a hippie commune that has been set up in an old Indian pueblo in New Mexico.

The film was an idea of Roger Corman's, about a world where everybody over 30 had died. Corman later said "my first thought was to do a science fiction film with allegorical overtones." Co-producer and screenwriter George Armitage remembers the concept just being "a sentence, and that's what we went with... He let you make it your own, and I did.”

Corman said that although "there was some good work in" Armitage's first draft, "the points I was trying to make in the script either did not come through or came through too obviously in different parts, and it became less science fiction and more and more a direct liberal left wing statement picture. I didn't want to be quite that obvious about what I was doing. So, I then decided to switch to a comedy, thinking back to BUCKET OF BLOOD and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS."

Corman says filming commenced using a first draft, which was rewritten constantly throughout the shoot. "Winter was coming and I wanted to do the film", said Corman. "I was going to be shooting in New Mexico. I actually shot in December and to wait one more month would have put me in January and I could not have made the film. To wait till next summer would have dated the material I was dealing with, so I wanted to bring the film out early."

United Artists had financed the script, but Corman said they felt it was too risky to finance, as they believed it needed a budget of $2 million. Corman bought the script back from them and decided to finance the film himself, at around $300,000. He directed and co-produced the film. Shooting took around four weeks. Corman sold the movie to American International Pictures for the negative cost, so he had no monetary interest in what happened next, just an artistic one.

After Corman went to Europe to direct another film, AIP took a look at GAS-S-S-S and decided that it needed additional work, to which Corman didn’t object. But Corman was unhappy with the resultant edits, particularly a new ending: “The picture ended and made no sense... Final cut approval had never been put in writing at AIP. It was more a tacit agreement...AIP had grown into the biggest independent in the U.S. It was now a publicly held company. The more irreverent the film, the greater the financial risk...Jim [Nicholson] had grown conservative and it was his objections to my work that led to the cuts. Jim had done this on four films in a row. [GAS-S-S-S was] the one that really did it for me.”

For AIP’s part, Samuel Z. Arkoff noted that “Roger's handpicked editors eliminated lines, entire scenes, and even one of the leading characters in the film. They also cut out a final shot that Roger adored, in which he positioned the leading man, his lady, and three hundred extras on a mesa...The camera panned back while the words of God were heard in a voice-over. For some reason, the voice of God had an accent. Roger thought it was one of the most spectacular shots of his film career. The editors thought it belonged on the cutting room floor, which was right where they left it...We had tried, but the editors just couldn't save the picture.”

Corman also disagreed with AIP’s distribution of the film: “Since it's a very inexpensive picture, they've been playing it around the country in drive-ins and small towns where it's been doing only moderate business. … The fact that it’s been playing around to only moderate audiences may indicate some weaknesses in the film. On the other hand, it could mean that it's been playing to the wrong audiences.” The film never had an official New York City release, playing only as part of a retrospective of Roger Corman's work.

The 1970 counterculture film, proved to be the last film that Corman would direct for American International Pictures. Country Joe & the Fish provided what little background score was in the film. The song score, with many of the songs composed by the Fish’s Barry Melton, was released on an American International Records LP. The album had a gray market CD release on the Reel Time label in 2011.

 Posted:   Jul 10, 2024 - 6:16 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

On July 8, 1970, New World Pictures was co-founded by Roger Corman and his brother Gene, following their departure from American International Pictures. Corman hoped to continue AIP's formula at New World, making low-budget films by new talent and distributing them internationally. New World quickly became one of the most successful independent film companies in the nation.

THE STUDENT NURSES was Roger Corman’s first release by his company. The film follows four young nursing candidates. Assigned to the psychiatry division, the blonde coed (Karen Carlson) takes up with the affable gynecologist (Lawrence Casey) and finds herself questioning the limits of her own liberation. Meanwhile, the defiantly braless bohemian (Barbara Leigh) makes out with a biker (Richard Rust) on a ruddy-tinted beachfront and experiences the world’s gentlest LSD freak-out.

Over at the terminal ward, the winsome caretaker (Elaine Giftos) faces the ailing young poet (Darrell Larson), as she enhances her bedside manner. Finally, the compassion of the public-health intern (Brioni Farrell) is put to the test in the oppressed barrio, where the activist leader (Reni Santoni) forever collides with uptight police officers.

Stephanie Rothman directed the 1970 film. Roger Dollarhide and Clancy B. Grass III provided the uncredited score.

 Posted:   Jul 11, 2024 - 10:29 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In its first days, New World followed the early AIP formula of releasing pre-packaged double bills to theaters. On some of the films, Corman would act as producer or executive producer. Others were acquired from independent U.S. producers or from overseas.

Corman was the uncredited producer for the Italian-Spanish co-production IL CASTELLO DALLE PORTE DI FUOCO (The Castle With the Gates of Fire). In the film, pretty young biochemist “Dr. Ivanna Rakowsky” (Erna Schurer) travels to the castle of “Baron Janos Dalmar” (Charles Quiney) as his assistant. Faced with hesitance and discrimination at first, the Baron unwillingly lets her stay on with frenzied results. Sleeping in the nude, Ivanna has constant nightmares about an unearthly being visiting her bedside for some late-night fondling and torture. Expectedly, she and the Baron fall in love and later wed. But all does not go smoothly, when the Baron becomes tied to the murder of some local girls.

The 1970 film was made by veteran writer-director José Luis Merino. Luigi Malatesta’s score has not had a release. New World Pictures cut the 98-minute film down to 78 minutes and released it in the U.S. as SCREAM OF THE DEMON LOVER on the bottom half of a 1971 double bill with THE VELVET VAMPIRE.

 Posted:   Jul 12, 2024 - 10:52 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Roger Corman was an executive producer on BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT. The film is set near the end of World War II in the Philippines. Satan (Vic Díaz) saves murderer “Joseph Langdon” (John Ashley) from death on condition that he become his disciple.

Eddie Romero directed the film. The picture was the first New World production shot in the Philippines, and Corman would make a number of films there in the coming years. Nestor Robles’ score has not been released.

New World Pictures acquired U.S. distribution rights to a 1967 West German-made Edgar Wallace mystery film about Scotland Yard’s search for a homicidal maniac, called “The Blue Hand.” New World retitled it CREATURE WITH THE BLUE HAND and put it on the bottom half of a double bill with BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT.

 Posted:   Jul 13, 2024 - 12:06 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

At the Stoker art gallery in Southern California, a sophisticated woman named “Diane LeFanu” (Celeste Yarnell) makes the acquaintance of the young, blonde couple of “Lee” (Michael Blodgett) and “Susan Ritter” (Sherry Miles). As Lee’s wandering eyes become obsessed with Diane’s sensuality, a weekend invitation to stay at her desert abode is immediately accepted, with Susan feeling a bit iffy on the getaway. A very strange weekend is in store, as Diane happens to be THE VELVET VAMPIRE--driving a dune buggy, feasting on raw chicken livers, claiming any victims she can sink her teeth into, and remaining close to her dead husband, buried in the outskirts a century earlier. The voyeuristic, bisexual Diane watches the young couple through a secret two-way mirror, conveniently sucks the blood of Susan after a rattlesnake bite, and makes moves on both.

Roger Corman was the uncredited executive producer on this 1971 horror film, which was directed by Stephanie Rothman. Corman was so impressed with Celeste Yarnall that he offered her the lead role in his next horror feature for New World Pictures. But she backed out at the last minute because she was offered a small part in Michael Winner's THE MECHANIC (1972). She took that role because Winner promised her a better part in his next movie SCORPIO (1973), however he ended up giving that role to Gayle Hunnicutt. Yarnall admitted that passing on Corman's film turned out to be a bad career move.

Director Rothman said the film was previewed and received a "polarized audience reaction” which made Roger Corman nervous. He insisted Rothman shoot an additional scene of a mechanic being killed by a pitchfork, as it was “more exciting and dynamic... After he saw it with an audience, I don’t think he had much faith in the film,” said Rothman.

Possibly because Corman was disappointed in the film, he released it on a double bill with SCREAM OF THE DEMON LOVER.

 Posted:   Jul 13, 2024 - 11:26 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Roger Corman had been interested in making a film about Manfred von Richthofen for several years. He felt that the Baron was the last true knight, an aristocratic warrior with a code of honor, and wanted to show how the Baron's way of thinking was archaic compared to the wholesale slaughter of World War I. He also wanted to contrast the Baron with the man who had been credited with shooting him down, Canadian RAF pilot Roy Brown, although it is now considered all but certain by historians, doctors, and ballistics experts that Richthofen was actually killed by an anti-aircraft machine gunner firing from the ground.

In 1966, Corman pitched the project to 20th Century Fox along with the St Valentine's Day Massacre; Fox decided to make the latter, as they had recently completed THE BLUE MAX. Years later Corman signed a deal with United Artists who liked the idea of a film about the Red Baron but did not want the film to be too German, so Corman agreed to make it about Roy Brown and other characters from both sides of the battlefront that could be added to the script.

VON RICHTHOFEN AND BROWN, the story of the two foes who meet in a fateful last flight, was essentially a historical subject. But Corman's intention was to treat the subject as an allegory of the modern war machine in conflict with antiquated old-world notions of chivalry.

Corman elaborated: “Von Richthofen [played by John Phillip Law], an aristocrat, was the last of the knights. He was the last to represent chivalry in combat. Whereas Roy Brown [played by Don Stroud], the so-called hero, was a garage mechanic from Canada who was so frightened of flying that he got ulcers and had to drink a quart of milk before he could take off. That's the man who killed ‘The Red Baron.’ Another telling point was that the man who took this gentlemanly flyer’s place was Hermann Goering [played by Barry Primus]. I took all that and played upon the theme that World War I ended the concept of chivalry and honor among soldiers in combat and ushered in the era of mass slaughter of the ordinary man. I tried to underscore the fact that Von Richthofen was already an anachronism but didn't realize it.”

United Artists, who were financing the picture, turned down Bruce Dern, who was Corman's original choice for Roy Brown. Don Stroud—whom Corman had selected to play Richthofen—was given the role instead, and John Phillip Law was cast as the Baron. "It was a good cast, although I believe my original cast would have been stronger. Stroud would have been right as Von Richthofen and Dern would have been excellent, excellent as Brown," said Corman.

Producer Gene Corman, however, said he wanted to cast Helmut Berger as the Red Baron. "But the geniuses at United Artists wanted John Phillip Law, who was as American as corn. It started out to be a double-A picture, and then it just became a film. If we had Helmut Berger, we could have recouped our money just in Germany alone! I think the experience soured Roger on directing. It was a real opportunity to make an A film."

Stunt pilot Charles Boddington was killed during filming when the vintage biplane he was flying crashed at Weston aerodrome near Dublin. The following day, another aircraft crashed, injuring pilot Lynn Garrison and actor Don Stroud.

The 1971 film did mediocre business at the box office. Nineteen years would pass before Roger Corman would have another directing credit. Kurt Graunke and the Graunke Symphony Orchestra of Munich re-recorded a 22-minute suite of Hugo Friedhofer’s score and released it on a Delos LP in 1975, along with a suite from Friedhofer’s PRIVATE PARTS. The LP was re-issued on CD by Facet in 1987.

 Posted:   Jul 14, 2024 - 10:50 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

George Armitage had made a few films for Roger Corman, acting in VON RICHTHOFEN AND BROWN and writing and acting in GAS-S-S-S. He wanted to direct. Armitage said, “Peter Bogdanovich and Francis [Ford Coppola] had left working with Roger, so there was an opening there for directors. I asked him if I could direct, and he said sure. He said: ‘Would you like to do a nurse movie or a stewardess move?’ I said I'd like to do a stewardess movie, and he said: ‘Okay, well then you can do the nurse movie.’ Okay! Anyways, I got into it, and I wrote the script, and I got … a crew of some TV guys that I'd worked with, and some young commercial crew. This fellow called Fouad Said had invented this thing called Cinemobile ... and I used it to film on location. I did everything on location ... I shot the whole movie in the South Bay, Manhattan Beach.”

Armitage says Corman left him alone for most of the film. “He wanted us to do whatever we felt, what we were thinking of poetically, socially, culturally at the time. So, I tried to look at it from a woman's point of view, adding my own feelings about what was going on. Corman and I got along very well. I didn't like the way Hollywood treated him—he was kind of an underdog and I loved the fact that he would just say, ‘Here, go make the movie.’ He never came to the set; he totally allowed us to do what we were doing ... And PRIVATE DUTY NURSES was done in 15 days.”

The film was sort of a sequel to 1970’s THE STUDENT NURSES (1970). Roger Corman said they got the idea for the title after being sent a letter of complaint about the first film from the Private Duty Nurses Association. In the film, “Nurse Spring” (Katherine Cannon) takes care of grumpy Vietnam veteran “Domino” (Dennis Redfield) who has a plate in his head and is in need of surgery from “Dr. McClintock” (Paul Gleason). “Nurse Lynn” (Pegi Boucher) fights against water pollution, and gets involved with “Dewey” (Paul Hampton).

George Armitage discovered the band Sky playing at a high school. He cast them in the 1971 film and let them score it as well. Lead singer Doug Fieger went on to form the group The Knack and co-wrote the hit song "My Sharona."

 Posted:   Jul 15, 2024 - 8:04 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Earlier in 1971, Jack Hill's THE BIG DOLL HOUSE became box office gold for Roger Corman's New World Pictures, grossing $10 million. Immediately, more "women in prison" films were ordered. New World quickly followed up DOLL HOUSE with WOMEN IN CAGES, a film also shot in the Philippines. Corman said that he decided to make films in the Philippines because he thought he could get more bang for his buck in terms of value for money spent on the production budget.

WOMEN IN CAGES uses three of DOLL HOUSE's principal actresses: Pam Grier, Judy Brown, and Roberta Collins. Both Brown and Collins are again cellmates, but instead of a prisoner, Grier is now a sadistic warden named “Alabama.” The lead performer is Jennifer Gan as a bimbo named “Jeff.” She gets blackmailed by a suave but conniving gangster/drug dealer (Charlie Davao) and ends up in the slammer, thinking he's gonna get her out.

The film was directed by Gerardo de Leon, credited as “Gerry” on screen and as “Jerry” on the film’s posters. De Leon was already a giant of the Philippines exploitation scene. Audiences didn’t go for the re-tread of another women’s’ prison picture. The film grossed just $1.9 million. But additional films in the genre would continue to be made, by New World and others.

 Posted:   Jul 16, 2024 - 10:57 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Producer-director Mel Welles was originally approached by Vanderbilt family member Henry Cooke Cushing IV with a screenplay titled “Lady Dracula.” Cushing was determined to produce a film starring actress Rosalba Neri, whom he was romantically pursuing. Recalling the film's development and Cushing’s relationship, Welles recalled that Neri "was turning him down, everywhere. She couldn't actually stand him. Harry was actually quite good-looking, but he was a pain in the neck because he had never lived in the real world ? and that's what she resented about him. He never worked a day in his life. So here, in my lap, he dropped the script and the money to do it. What a windfall!".

Upon discovering that the rights to the “Lady Dracula” script were actually held by actor Brad Harris, Welles wrote a new screenplay with his friend, television writer Edward di Lorenzo, which was completed in three weeks. Welles also desired to incorporate feminist themes into the narrative, which was now about LADY FRANKENSTEIN.

Welles was assisted by fellow expatriate producer Dick Randall in assembling the remainder of the cast, which included Joseph Cotten and Mickey Hargitay. $90,000 of LADY FRANKENSTEIN’s budget was originally intended to be provided through a letter of credit given to Welles by producer Skip Steloff. But shortly before the start of production, the Italian banks refused to accept the note. The money needed to make the film was eventually provided by Welles' old colleague Roger Corman. As part of this arrangement, Corman's New World Pictures gained the film's American distribution rights. According to Randall, the film's low budget, estimated to be less than $200,000, resulted in Cotten's schedule being shortened to two weeks and his part being rewritten so that his character's death would take place earlier in the film.

In the picture, Baron Frankenstein (Joseph Cotten) is killed by his psychotic, murderous first monster. Subsequently, his daughter “Tania” (Rosalba Neri) and her lover, the Baron’s assistant “Dr. Charles Marshall” (Paul Muller), continue his experiments in an attempt to rebuild his legacy.

LADY FRANKENSTEIN opened in Italy in October 1971. Before opening it in the U.S. in March 1972, New World cut the film by 10 minutes, removing expository scenes but leaving the violence and nudity intact. In addition, Rosalba Neri was billed as “Sarah Bay” on American prints. Alessandro Alessandroni’s score was released by Beat Records in 1999.

 Posted:   Jul 16, 2024 - 11:31 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE FINAL COMEDOWN is a 1972 blaxploitation drama written, produced, and directed by Oscar Williams. The film is an examination of racism in the United States and depicts a shootout between a radical black nationalist group and the police, with the backstory leading up to the shootout told through flashbacks. The radical group is not identified by name in the film but closely resembles the Black Panther Party.

Billy Dee Williams had his first lead role as the young black militant “Johnny Johnson.” D'Urville Martin co-starred as Johnny’s friend and fellow revolutionary, “Billy Joe Ashley.” The American Film Institute gave an $11,000 grant to Oscar Williams, who had been an Advanced Film Fellow at AFI from 1970--1971 and previously worked as an intern on BULLITT (1968) and THE GREAT WHITE HOPE (1970). Williams raised the rest of the financing privately, including $15,000 from Roger Corman, who distributed the film through New World Pictures.

The film’s funky score was by Marcus Wade and was released on a Blue Note LP. The LP’s front cover has only the name of guitarist Grant Green, who was the lead player on the soundtrack. The LP was re-issued on CD in 2003.

After Billy Dee Williams became a star in the mid-1970s, Roger Corman decided to re-release THE FINAL COMEDOWN. But Corman wanted a more action-oriented feature, so Corman director Allan Arkush was told to remove 30 minutes of footage from the 85-minute film (mostly political speeches) and shoot 20 minutes of new action footage to be edited into the film. The result was a new 75-minute feature, re-titled BLAST, which included at least one new actor in the cast—Sam Laws.

Arkush recalled that, “Of course, I had four days to shoot 20 minutes of new footage, which we figured out, after it was too late, meant we had to get a shot every fifteen minutes we were out on location. The first day we went out to shoot, it began to rain. So, we were out there, scratching our heads, in the worst neighborhood in L.A., when a pay phone started ringing across the street.

“Who knows how he knew we were there, but it was Roger. All he said was, ‘I know what you’re thinking. The rain doesn’t matter; keep shooting.’ Roger would always give you great advice, like ‘Allan, you need more stuff happening in the foreground—you should study David Lean.’ And I’d be thinking, what would David Lean be doing in Watts, shooting 20 minutes worth of film in four days?”

Since the revised film was now comprised of 55 minutes of footage by original writer-producer-director Oscar Williams and 20 minutes of footage by Allan Arkush, BLAST went out using the pseudonym “Frank Arthur Wilson” as writer, producer, and director. BLAST opened in late 1976.

Arkush said, “Thank God no one ever saw the picture—at least almost no one. I remember seeing this movie at the World—the worst, sleaziest theater in Hollywood. And one guy said, ‘You know, I kinda liked that picture.’ And his friend nodded his head and said, ‘Yeah, it was OK. But you know, I could swear I’d seen it somewhere before.’”

 Posted:   Jul 17, 2024 - 1:50 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

American International Pictures wanted to take advantage of the publicity surrounding MGM’s upcoming Raquel Welch film KANSAS CITY BOMBER by making their own roller derby film. Even though he hadn’t worked for the studio in two years, Roger Corman agreed to produce such a film for AIP with his company.

UNHOLY ROLLERS starred former Playboy Playmate Claudia Jennings in her first lead role as “Karen Walker,” who quits her job at a cannery to become a skater in the roller derby. She encounters friction from the other skaters—especially “Mickey” (Betty Anne Rees), the current star of the team.

Vernon Zimmerman directed the film, and it was hoped that UNHOLY ROLLERS would beat KANSAS CITY BOMBER to the theaters. But the MGM film went from completion of principal photography to release in just 2 months. Meanwhile, UNHOLY ROLLERS ran into editing problems under first-time editing supervisor Martin Scorsese. The film hit theaters 3 months after KANSAS CITY BOMBER, which Scorsese acknowledged caused it to be "destroyed" commercially.

The film had a song score by the Pacific Northwest band Louie and the Rockets, who performed several cover songs for the film, including "Johnny B. Goode," "Rock and Roll Music," "Roll Over Beethoven," and others.

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