Revelations from Roger
by Jason Silverman
Sep 04, 2012 | 367 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
nearly 600 movies, Roger Corman earned a reputation for working fast and cheap. But the two films screened at the festival remind us of another Corman: the fearless, inventive director who is serious about his craft.

The Intruder follows a self-described social reformer—an unrepentant racist-for-hire—who travels to the Deep South to incite the white community to violence against the town’s blacks. “You all know there was peace in the South before the NAACP started stirring up trouble,” he tells a crowd, stirring them to riot. “Soon you’ll have black mayors and black policemen like they already do in Chicago. Black doctors will deliver your babies.”

A young William Shatner portrays Adam Cramer, the provocateur, with intensity and force. The film’s cross-burning, accusations of black-on-white rapes and a lynch scene made it too charged to be released in the South of the 1960s, and Corman and his crew were forced to outrun police who threatened them with arrest, accusing them of being Communist sympathizers. Shot pragmatically but effectively, The Intruder offers a disturbing tale of demagoguery and the manipulation of the masses, a message that hasn’t dulled in 50 years.

Corman shot The Masque of the Red Death, the best of his successful Edgar Allan Poe cycle, (relatively) leisurely—he allowed himself five weeks on a professional soundstage, rather than three on makeshift sets. Vincent Price plays Prospero, a count who has sold his soul. As the Black Death claims victims outside the walls of his castle, he eagerly lines up new disciples, inviting them to an orgy of food, dance and Satanic worship.

As richly atmospheric as anything Corman has shot, Masque at times feels almost like an art film, a Bergman homage, yet its over-the-top themes keep us guessing: is it a spoof? Wry, intense and hallucinatory, it is a gorgeous piece of camp, and a high-water mark for period genre film.     

– Jason Silverman

THE INTRUDER    

U.S., 1962, 84m

Director: Roger Corman

Starring: William Shatner

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH    

England/U.S., 1964, 89m

Director: Roger Corman

Starring: Vincent Price

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