Roger Corman | Varied Celluloid

Private Duty Nurses

Posted by Josh Samford On April - 6 - 2012

Private Duty Nurses (1971)
Director: George Armitage
Writers: George Armitage
Starring: Katherine Cannon, Joyce Williams and Pegi Boucher

The Plot: Private Duty Nurses doesn’t really look to change around the formula when it comes to its plot. Similar to the other films found in the Roger Corman nurses collection from Shout Factory (such as Night Call Nurses and Candy Stripe Nurses), this is a story about three nurses who each have their own stories to tell. In this story we are introduced to Spring (Katherine Cannon), who is persuaded by a doctor to become involved with the Vietnam veteran Domino (Dennis Redfield). A young patient who is fresh back in regular society, but finds it hard to cope with his regular life after the war. He has now turned to motocross riding, and has been taking some extreme risks. Next up is Lola (Joyce Williams), an African American nurse who runs into many prejudices due to her ethnicity and her sex. As she attempts to help her boyfriend get hired into a all-white hospital, she runs into racism and sexism at every turn. Finally we have Lynn, who becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that may very well bring down some of the political elites found in their city.

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Night Call Nurses

Posted by Josh Samford On April - 5 - 2012

Night Call Nurses (1972)
Director: Jonathan Kaplan
Writers: George Armitage and Danny Opatoshu
Starring: Patty Byrne, Alana Stewart and Mittie Lawrence

The Plot: Our story revolves around three girls who work as nurses at a mental health institution. Barbara (Patty Byrne) is the free spirit of the group, and we watch as she becomes involved with a strange hippie commune. All seems to be going well, with free love and bizarre new-age philosophy flying in the air, but things eventually take a darker turn when Barbara walks into a room with a two-way receiver that is broadcasting the “guru” of this commune spreading lies about her while she is out of the room. This nearly drives Barbara insane and pushes her to areas that she never expected to go. Next up is Janis (Alana Stewart), who isn’t looking for love on the job, but she is soon wrapped up in a relationship with one of her patients who is currently undergoing rehab treatment. A cowboy with a drug addiction, would could wrong? Finally, we have Sandra (Mittie Lawrence), who is drawn into the political struggles of the world when she meets a prisoner on her ward. It turns out that this prisoner started a massive riot, and Sandra believes that his struggle is her own. Will she commit to helping him even though it means risking her entire career, or will she play it safe?

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Candy Stripe Nurses

Posted by Josh Samford On April - 4 - 2012

Candy Stripe Nurses (1974)
Director: Allan Holleb
Writers: Allan Holleb
Starring: Candice Rialson, Robin Mattson, and María Rojo

The Plot: Candy Stripe Nurses is a sex-comedy following three candy stripers at a local hospital. Marisa (María Rojo) is a young girl who follows her very own path, and usually angers the establishment while doing so. When she assaults a teacher at highschool, she is forced into the previously mentioned candy striper position. When she arrives at the hospital she meets a young Hispanic man who has been framed for a armed robbery. Although she is doubtful of his claims at first, she soon looks into the matter and finds out that he may be right. This of course leads her in an attempt tp try and clear his name and find the real culprits. Then we have Sandy (Candice Rialson), who eventually sidelines her doctor boyfriend in order to chase a rockstar who visits the hospital in order to find what ails his libido. Finally, we have Dianne (Robin Mattson) who has fallen in love with a young basketball player who was brought to the hospital after going into a violent fit of rage. It first appears that the young man is having some sort of fit brought on by head trauma, but after it comes out that he may have been under the influence of drugs, it becomes a matter of finding out who is covering up his drug use!

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MST3K: Gunslinger

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 8 - 2011

Gunslinger (1958 / 1993)
Director: Joel Hodgson
Writers: Joel Hodgson, Mike Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, etc.
Starring: Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu and Kevin Murphy

The Plot: In this episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel is still trapped in outer space on the Satellite of Love and is once again forced to watch a dreadful movie at the hands of the evil Dr. Forrester. This time out he is given one of Roger Corman’s early outings, a western known as Gunslinger. The film details the events that come after a local marshall is gunned down in cold blood. His wife Rose Hood (Beverly Garland) shows the only guts in town as she takes up the marshall’s position and starts a hunt for the men who took her husband’s life. This draws her into a nefarious scheme by the local saloon owner (Allison Hayes) who may or may not have hired a contract killer to take care of any law in town!

The Review
There is one television program that almost every movie geek I know can get behind and show their love for, and that is Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’ve known geeks who are from a very obvious b-movie background right on up to the most strident Criterion collecting arthouse fan who will proudly profess a favorite MST3K host between Joel Hodgson or Mike Nelson. It is a series that’s strongest point comes from a love of cinema. From the good to the bad, the show made good on our collective love for the artform. The jokes were targeted towards a very obvious film-fan audience. The jokes were so often targeted at film geeks and there were many times where filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick, Howard Hawks and John Ford were brought up in order to point out how blatantly bad a movie might be in comparison. There’s no question though, the format for this show certainly leaned more towards the b-movie luminaries in the audience. If you had some knowledge of Ed Wood beforehand, an episode that might cover his movies would certainly be helped by this knowledge. In the cast of Gunslinger, if you know even the most basic of information about Roger Corman, then you are bound to have fun with this episode because Joel and the bots have dug up easily one of his worst films.

Gunslinger probably isn’t the episode that I would introduce a new audience member to, since it doesn’t feature the gut-bustingly ludicrous scenarios that are played out in episodes such as Space Mutiny, but if you have seen and liked a couple of episodes previous to this one then you’re bound to get a decent bit out of this rather ridiculous western. Directed by Roger Corman himself, as opposed to simply being one of his many “producer” credits, this came at the very beginning of his long career. Here we find a far less confident director who is still making the most of his budget (Corman is notorious for his penny-pinching ways), but he unfortunately doesn’t have the charm or the technical prowess yet to make a fully competent film. It’s that or this was just a project that went awry right from the start. While many films that have been covered by Mystery Science Theater have been moderately decent pictures that were unfairly lumped together in the world of really bad movies, Gunslinger is one title that deserves its reputation.

Joel and the bots do a clever job of pointing out the subtle, and not so subtle, omissions to continuity that pop up throughout the film. The guys do a great job at pointing out how obvious the actors are in waiting for their “marks” (a cue for them to step into an action, such as waiting for a sentence to end and then exiting or entering a room), and how Corman doesn’t even bother to hide these tiny little gaffes. The very best of these moments can be found during the film’s introduction. In this simple sequence we follow the character of Rose down a long street, that will become very familiar to the audience over the course of this movie, and then we watch as she enters into the Marshall’s Office. With the wide angle of the shot we can see two cowboys who sit on the side of the building and whom are quite literally waiting for nothing and not even having a conversation amongst themselves. When these two men see Rose enter into the Marshall’s office, right on cue they walk their horses to the front of the Marshall’s office and set up an ambush. The cue is as obvious as they come and it does not escape the wit of the MST3K crew who lampoon it mercilessly. There are moments that could have been scripted, such as a character entering into a scene and then quickly closing the door as if it were not their cue just yet, but for the most part these levels of ridiculousness are all very direct and obvious.

Ultimately when you have sets that seem as authentically western-classic as those in this film, which is a nice and pretentious way of saying good looking false-front buildings on a dirt road, it is hard to make a bad movie. However, Corman managed to do just that and he did it by introducing plot points and characters without the slightest hint at real-world dynamics. In the world of Gunslinger, shooting a man down in the midst of a funeral service, right in front of the preacher and without the slightest hint of remorse (despite the person firing the gun having never been a law officer or murderer), is perfectly natural behavior. Still, it isn’t a movie without positive points. The acting by all of the main cast is of a highly professional level. John Ireland, Beverly Garland and Allison Hayes show off their genuine talents during the course of the movie and although they were known as b-players during their time, they were definitely able to impress. The dialogue, while clunky for the most part, also shows varying moments of quality work. Still, the aspect that makes this truly watchable is the MST3K commentary. It takes a b-grade western with severe technical defects and lifts it to be a very solid piece of comedy.

The Conclusion
While it is far away from being one of the very best episodes of MST3K, it has some great high points to it. As stated earlier, it wouldn’t be the first episode that I wanted to point a newcomer to but I would recommend it over many other episodes. I give the episode a solid three out of five. With some funny host segments (featuring references made towards David Cronenberg’s Scanners) and decent riffing, this proved far more entertaining than I first expected.

Forbidden World Review

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 1 - 2010
I told you I would be quick with this! My review for the Galaxy of Terror semi-sequel (well, maybe in the eyes of fans) Forbidden World! Check it out and enjoy the continue scifi horror!

The Plot: Professional troubleshooter Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) has just woke up from a deep cryogenic freeze that lasted a lifetime. He is given orders to find a genetic research lab on the desert planet of Xarbia and discover why they have sent out a distress signal. When he arrives he discovers that the lab has been playing with genetic mutations and they have created a bizarre lifeform known as a metamorph. This being, which is at first being incubated inside of a pod, is soon let loose from its cocoon only to reek havoc on the station. Now it is up to Colby to figure out how to destroy this growing monster. It seems invulnerable to all known weapons and it has an insatiable craving for protein. Turns out human beings don’t have enough protein for it to really use, so it first has to infect any human being it comes in contact with and then that turns said human being into a massive gelatin-like blob of pure protein that it can feast off of for a much longer period of time. Will Colby save the day or will the crew end up as this monster’s food?






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