Basically any movie you’d find on television on a random Sunday afternoon or late, late at night feels like a Roger Corman movie. It follows, then, that Roger Corman’s Horror Classics Volume 1 is kind of the perfect thing to throw on when you want some bad movie action. Sometimes it feels at though Elvira or the guys from Mystery Science Theater should be adding their commentary, but there’s no reason you can’t make up your own.
A Bucket of Blood stars cult movie favorite Dick Miller as Walter Paisley, a young, surprisingly hot beatnik who works as a waiter, but aspires to greatness as an artist. When he accidentally kills his landlady’s cat, he attempts to hide the body in plaster, resulting in a somewhat awesome and lifelike cat sculpture. All his beatnik friends think that cat is everything plus, and soon he’s being taken seriously in the art world. How can that foxy Walter Paisley possible top his first design? Most likely something or someone is going to have to die in order for Walter to create his next masterpiece. This weirdly funny, offbeat film comes in at a whopping 65 minutes and serves as an amusing snapshot of the times.
Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Dementia 13 is a hot mess of a ghost story coupled with some major family dysfunction and a fair amount of murder. When Louise Haloran’s husband suffers a fatal heart attack while they’re out row-boating, Louise uses the old noggin and rolls him overboard. She then travels to his family’s castle in Ireland, pretending that he’s been called away on business in New York. Knowing she’ll lose any chance at claiming an inheritance if the truth comes out, Louise does her best to ingratiate herself with the Haloran clan. They turn out to be even crazier than she is, brooding endlessly over the drowning death of little Kathleen seven years prior and plotting to mark the anniversary of her death with a bizarre ritual. Will Louise find herself at the bottom of the lake as well, or will she meet an unfortunate end at the hands of an axe murderer? Anything’s possible when cooped up with the Halorans. Finally, Jack Nicholson stars as a soldier from Napoleon-era France who falls for a beautiful woman and then stumbles upon a mansion filled with secrets, lies, and ghosts. This film is another hot mess of betrayal, love gone wrong, murder, and revenge with a strange Gilligan’s Island vibe. As Lt. Andre Duvalier (Nicholson) probes deeper into the mystery of this beautiful stranger, he becomes entangled in a web of deceit that puts his very life at risk. Highlights of the film include a man falling from a cliff after having his eyes pecked out by a passing bird. Co-directed by Corman and Francis Ford Coppola, The Terror also stars Boris Karloff and is a classic haunted house treat.
All in all, the collection makes for a campy good time and showcases the talents of some of Hollywood’s most enduring talents. The pacing is often slow and the production values can be lacking, but Corman isn’t exactly known for quality. His films offer up pure entertainment, often of the so-bad-it’s-good variety, and there’s nothing wrong with that for a midnight movie.