Episode 292 – X: the Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)

There’s a new superhero in town, the man they call “X”! He has the power to see through things! Clothing! Human skin! Manila file folders! And how does he use this power to fight crime, you ask? Uh . . . well, I guess he could see criminals naked and mock them about any body image problems they might have until they surrendered out of sheer embarrassment and shame. Wow . . . X is kind of a jerk. Lotta nerve calling himself a hero . . . except he doesn’t! That’s entirely on me! What a twist! No, this week’s entry in “Be Like the Cor-Man” does read somewhat like a superhero origin story, except that no one ever calls him “X” (the character’s name is Xavier. No, not “Professor” . . .) and he doesn’t try any super heroics, unless working in a carnival counts. I guess it could; that’s how Dick “Robin” Grayson got started, but anyway! This is considered one of the Cor-man’s better efforts; after all, it’s in color and it stars an Oscar-winning actor (Ray Milland) but how does it stack up against “Little Shop of Horrors”? Tune in and find out! Same Cor-time, same Cor-channel!

Poll question: What non-actor’s performance pleasantly surprised you?

Episode 291 – Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Tremble before the rise of the Cor-man! We’re in “Be Like the Cor-man” now, up to our necks! For all his chintzy budgets, churned-out scripts, and lilliputian shooting schedules, Roger Corman hardly ever lost money on any of his pictures. Some of those pictures . . . one finds oneself asking “how?” as is the case of the 1960 now-cult-classic “Little Shop of Horrors” (not the musical, but it’s inspiration). This movie may very well hold the record for the shortest shooting time of any Corman film (tune in to find out how short) but it did have the distinction of being one of the first, if not THE first, horror-comedy movies ever. If you don’t agree with that last point, take it up with Bumpy (but really, do tell us if you can think of an earlier example). If nothing else, this movie is probably the best movie about a human-eating plant surrounded by Jewish stereotypes in Los Angeles that is supposed to be New York’s skid row that Jack Nicholson ever appeared in. Probably. Did that not make any sense? Give a listen; it’ll make even less.

Poll question: is there a movie adaptation you’ve seen that is better than the source material? If so, which one?

Episode 290 – The House of Usher (1960)

Spit fire and save matches, we’ve got us a new series! And it’s a doozy, recognizing one of the greatest most talented highly influential directors of the last hundred years. Who you may ask? Ron Howard? Sure, “Apollo 13” is decent and “A Beautiful Mind” won some minor awards like an Oscar but did he bring us “Dinoshark”? No, he did not! Martin Scorsese? Yeah, yeah, “Raging Bull,” “Mean Streets,” those are ok, I guess, but they’re no “Attack of the Crab Monsters”! What about Francis Ford Coppola? I guess some people like “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now” but come on, what are they compared to “Teenage Caveman”? But you know what all these directors have in common? They all got their starts working with one man. One exceptional man. One single man. One Cor-man. Yes, these giants of Hollywood, and many others, owe a great debt to recently-departed director/producer/occasional-kind-of-actor Roger Corman, a man who has his name on almost four hundred movies. With this series, we are exhorting you, one and all, to “Be Like the Cor-Man” and we’re starting off with one of his interpretations of an Edgar Allen Poe story (and he did a bunch of those!), “The House of Usher” (or “The Fall of the House of Usher,” as it was sometimes marketed. Or my favorite: “The House of Usher Goes to Hawaii”. Thought that of course was never released). What is it about the Cor-man that has left so indelible a impression upon American film-making? Give a listen, and we’ll try to clue you in!

Poll question: what is your favorite decade/era for film making? If you look closely, which decade has most of your favorites and why?