I’m a huge fan of Roger Corman. Who isn’t, right? But these films are not the typical Corman offerings. Some of them have no apparent connection to the man himself. The ones that do are mostly as producer and not director. Some of the films might be notable for being an early film for this actor or that. But I would hardly classify any of these films as classics of any genre or good representations of the mastery of the B film that was Roger Corman’s signature. Most of the films feature merely montages of riding, fighting, drinking, drugging, or sex. Good times for some, maybe, but hardly worth the time it takes to watch even the shortest of these bombs. I feel like Corman’s name is used primarily as a catch here and that the man had nothing to do with this release.
Here are the films you’ll get in this collection:
Angels Hard As They Come (1971)
“Yeah, I kinda dig him, but it’s kinda the way I dig stray dogs, you know.”
Corman is merely an executive producer here.
An old ghost town is taken over by a commune of hippies. While these are the peace-loving flower-children-styled hippies, the area reminds one of the Manson family taking over an old movie studio ranch for their community. A group of outlaw bikers happen upon the group and begin to hang out with the flower children. Meanwhile Long John (Glenn) is a leader of the notorious Hell’s Angels. His group has just had a drug deal go badly, and he needs a place to lay low for a time. Wouldn’t you know it, he meets the ghost town bikers and gets invited to hang with them for a time. It’s all a fun gathering until a couple of the bikers try to rape Astrid (Texter), a girl Long John has taken a liking to. He tries to break it up, but in the process Astrid is killed. What’s worse is that the biker gang leader, “The General” (Dierkop) thinks it was an attempt on his own life by Long John and his two fellow Angels members. After a kangaroo court and the expected guilty verdict, the gang begins to torture and toy with the outnumbered Angels.
This was Scott Glenn’s first film. Before this he appeared only in television as a guest star. Like many successful actors, he had to start somewhere. While the film is pretty lame, you do get a couple of good performances out of Scott Glenn and Gary Busey, also making his first credited film role as one of the hippies who rebels against the bikers and tries to keep the peace. There’s too much montage here played to obscure rock songs or a badly played electric guitar.
Wild Ride (1960)
“I don’t break the law, man. I make my own.”
Can’t find a Roger Corman connection here.
Johnny (Nicholson) runs a cop off the road on his way to a party. He runs a gang famous for playing chicken with anything on the road from cops to trucks. He’s also a small circuit race driver. But, Johnny’s devil-may-care attitude and attempt to control his gang is causing him to lose control of himself and his followers.
This film is only notable as one of Jack Nicolson’s first roles. He’s quite young here, but already the posture and distinctive dialog style is beginning to show. He hasn’t yet mastered the look, but we all know he will, now. Otherwise, this is a thankfully short film that doesn’t appear to have much of a story element to it. It’s a very quick character study of Johnny and his final hours as the king of the road.
Bury Me An Angel (1972)
“That’s a drag.”
Again no apparent Corman connection.
Dag (Peabody) watches her brother get killed at a drug party. It has devastated her, and she can’t escape the nightmares of seeing him die over and over again. She decides to set out on the road on her bike with her two friends to hunt down and kill the man who got her brother. Along the way she meets witches and college professors.
This is another film overloaded with musical montages of riding set to obscure rock music from the era. It was one of the few biker films made from a woman’s prospective. Not only is the lead character a woman, but it was written by two women and directed by one of them, Barbara Peters.
The Fast And The Furious (1955)
“I can shoot as straight as any cop, can’t I?”
This one was written by Corman and is one of the few actually good films in the collection.
Frank Webster (Ireland) is a fugitive from the law. He was accused of running a truck off the road and killing the driver. In his effort to escape he takes Connie (Malone) hostage at a cafe and heads for Mexico. The roads are blocked, and the only way he can get across the border is to enter an international race that begins in the US but ends in Mexico. Fortunately, it happens that Connie has a nice car and was coincidentally planning on entering the same race herself, until they banned female drivers. Of course, the two fall in love, and Connie tries to convince Frank to turn himself in and prove his innocence.
This really has little, if anything, to do with the more current series of films with the same title. While the filmmakers of the first claim a connection, there really is nothing the two films have in common. There’s actually some real suspense in this film, and it is probably the best shot of this collection. Credit John Ireland, who not only starred in the picture but co-directed it as well. At least here there is real character development and an attempt at servicing an actual plot.
Naked Angels (1969)
“You’ve got just 10 minutes to get out of town. If you’re not out in 10, you’ll be here a year.”
Corman was the producer.
Mother (Greene) has just spent two months in the hospital after a rival gang attacked him. Now he’s out for bloody revenge. His gang is ready to support his bloodlust but gets turned off by his Ahab obsession and decides to deal out the justice without him.
This is the worst of the montage films. If you take all of that crap out, you have maybe a 15 minute film. It’s filled with colorful gang members like Cockroach and Fingers. It’s maybe the worst of the collection, and that’s saying something.
Pit Stop (1969)
“Look out McCloud. Rick Bowman in coming through.”
Corman was an uncredited Executive Producer.
Rick Bowman (Davalos) and Hawk McCloud (Haig) are rivals in the sport of figure 8 racing. It’s really more like demolition derby as cars crash into each other as a matter of course.
This one looks almost like a primer on figure 8 racing. The rivalry is played hard, but it’s all really a lot of stock racing footage.
T-Bird Gang (1959)
“I’m going to have to go elsewhere and start over. I don’t like that.”
Roger Corman produced.
Frank’s (Brinkley) father was a policeman who was killed by the Alex Hendricks (Nelson) Gang. But the cops just don’t have enough to arrest anyone. So, Frank goes undercover inside the gang to try and take them down.
This is the absolute best film in the collection. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t fit. It’s not about cars, bikes, or babes. It’s a straight out Film Noir crime thriller. Too bad the print is so bad. This was by far the most enjoyable film to watch, but not worth the cost of this rather ugly collection.
Each film is presented in a full frame format. Everything about these films is bad. Prints are severely damaged. You’ll get bad splice jobs and plenty of scratches. Some are in black & white, others in color. It doesn’t matter, because there is no real sharpness to any of the films. They look like they were copied from bad videotapes complete with tracking errors. These are the worst transfers I’ve seen in a normal studio release. Plus they have a bug in the bottom right corner. For those who do not know what bugs are, they are the kinds of channel logos you see on the screen when you watch television. The Sy Fy Channel is the absolute worst for bugs. You might expect it on television, but never on a film collection you paid for. It’s shameless.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks are no better. There’s plenty of hiss, reel noise, and distortion to go around. These transfers are a complete mess.
Trailers and vintage drive-in movie intermission clips.
I didn’t have to pay for this collection, and I still feel like I was taken. The movies are short, but this collection just stinks. Corman fans: Do not be fooled into thinking that you’re getting the master of B films at his best here. I suspect these are public domain films released to capitalize on his name. Shout Factory recently acquired the real Corman library. Look for much more respectable releases from them. Still, they’ll sell enough copies to cover the $12 they invested in actually mastering these films. I feel sorry if you were taken, but “some jokers never learn”.