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Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: Sci-Fi Classics


Rod Lott January 14th, 2011

 Roger Corman’s name is perhaps most associated with no-budget, black-and-white B pictures of the 1950s, and "Sci-Fi Classics" brings together three he not only produced, but directed, all in one attractive two-disc package.

From 1957, "Attack of the Crab Monsters" is your standard "giant monster run amok" picture of the Atomic Age. It's made memorable — if only while you're watching it — by three things:
• the not-so-special effects of the title crustacean creatures,
• the novelty of a pre-"Gilligan's Island" Russell Johnson in the cast,
• and placing curvy Pamela Duncan in a swimsuit and scuba gear for the final third.

"War of the Satellites" uses the space race to its advantage, for an alien invasion that initially is dismissed as a "rocket hoax." See a poor guy's hand turn all bubbly and crusty, like cheese overcooked atop a pizza, and that's about all the '58 flick has going for it, beyond the star power — in Corman's world, at least — of the great Dick Miller and Susan Cabot.

Best-of-the-bunch honors falls to 1958's "Not of This Earth," which beget the recently re-released '80s update that marked Traci Lords' mainstream film debut. It's fun to compare and contrast that colorful romp to this colorless one. With the lovely Beverly Garland, the story remains the same — so much that you'll notice many scenes that remake helmer Jim Wynorski picked up and Xeroxed. That's not a complaint, as both are a ball of fun, just reflective of their wildly different times.

And yet, the coolest thing about this set can be found in the extras: 27 trailers for Corman films, covering his entire career! You get the classics ("Little Shop of Horrors"), his acclaimed Edgar Allan Poe pictures ("The Fall of the House of Usher"), his '70s satires ("Gas-s-s-s") and the last movie he ever directed (1990's underrated "Frankenstein Unbound"). Gotta watch 'em all! —Rod Lott



 
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