Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: once again, it has proven impossible to make a remotely decent movie out of the seminal comic book Fantastic […]

In looking at the vast corpus of American movies made between 1945 and 1968 that are typically considered under the umbrella of horror, one thing that leaps to mind is that, almost without exception, they aren’t scary. Nor, in a great many cases, does it seem like trying to make them scary was ever the […]

My first thought is not a very professional one: holy shit, Diane Ladd used to look exactly like her daughter. Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I can turn to the matter at hand. And the matter at hand is The Wild Angels, a film without which the subsequent history of cinema […]

If it had done nothing else to distinguish itself, 1982’s The Slumber Party Massacre would stand out in the crowded glut of early ’80s slasher films by virtue of being written by a feminist. Not, please understand, the kind of everyday feminist that anybody could be who believes in equality between the sexes and calls […]

If I were to say to you, a propos of nothing, “the most trenchant satire of American bloodlust and broken-down media culture of the 1970s was produced by Roger Corman,” would you believe me? Don’t bother answering, because I refuse to believe anybody would; I’m the biggest Corman fan I know personally, and I was […]

The last of the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations Roger Corman directed for American International Pictures – though by no means the last one that AIP cranked out – The Tomb of Ligeia is the most polished and classy film of the entire cycle, and it is not uncommon to find people arguing, on those grounds, […]

The seventh of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations for AIP, The Masque of the Red Death, opened four years and two days after the first, House of Usher, and that is a whole lot of Poe in not very much time no matter how you slice it (and let us pause to observe that […]

“The Haunted Palace” is a great little poem, one of Edgar Allan Poe’s all-time best pieces of verse. Emphasis on little. It’s all of six stanzas long, a total of 48 lines, and its single function is to describe the atmosphere clinging to a palace in a luxuriant valley that was once, generations ago, a […]

It’s a parlor game for 19th Century literature freaks and nothing but to speculate on such questions, but let us take a moment to muse upon the most famous short story written by Edgar Allan Poe – that is, name the first Poe story that comes to mind. Ask a dozen people, and I suspect […]

As I mentioned, the third of the AIP/Roger Corman Poe movies, Premature Burial, was something of a failure – not a flop, for it’s hard for a movie produced as cheaply as even the costliest AIP picture to “flop” – and for the fourth movie in the cycle, the second released in 1962, a course-correction […]

Premature Burial, the third of the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations directed by Roger Corman and released by AIP, is by common consent regarded as being the ugly stepchild of the franchise. There’s one tremendously obvious reason for this: it’s the only one of the Corman Poe pictures not starring the stalwart Vincent Price, replacing him […]

For their very next Edgar Allan Poe adaptation after the surprise hit House of Usher, Roger Corman and American International Pictures went all the way around to the other side – one of the reasons that “The Fall of the House of Usher” makes so much sense as a movie story (and the reason why […]