This year at Comic-con I had the rare and special opportunity to speak with the great Roger Corman, Director and Producer of more amazing B-movies than any other man alive. The man’s record speaks for itself, and I think you’ll enjoy hearing him talk about his long history with movies in this far-ranging conversation.
Roger Corman: Kevin O’Neill (interviewed previously by Comics Bulletin!) is the director of The Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader. He’s worked with me on several films. He’s a good director but he also has his own special effects studio, and I felt that working in 3D, I wanted to have a director who understood the post production process in 3D so he would have that in mind knowing, when he got the film, what was going to be done so there wouldn’t be any slippage there. And I think it turned out very well.
So we have Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader, which comes out on Epix on August 25. The cheerleader’s growth is the result of an experiment that goes wrong. If the experiment didn’t go wrong, there wouldn’t be any pitch! So, as in so many of these films, the experiment goes wrong and a creature is created in some way. What happened in this one is that a girl who’s not particularly attractive wants to be a cheerleader and her boyfriend, who works in the biology lab, had developed a serum that he thinks will make her more beautiful, and it does.
Her rival cheerleader sees how beautiful she is and also takes the serum. What neither one of them know, though, is that there’s a side effect: they grow to 50 feet tall. So we build to the climax, which is the homecoming football game, and the two 50 foot tall cheerleaders have a huge fight, in the middle of the football stadium. Now we tried it two ways, because Epix wanted one version in which they tear each others’ tops off in the fight.
Now we wanted that too, as I think there is some commercial value in it, but we have another version which is shot for shot, the same picture but they don’t take their tops off. Also, we have a 3D version and we have a 2D version, so there an effect of that decision that hadn’t occurred to me before: we have four versions of the same picture. One is 3D topless, another 2D topless, one 3D with the top on, and the other 2D with the top on.
So we’re prepared to show this picture anywhere you want, anywhere in the world.
Jason Sacks for Comics Bulletin: Have you had other movies where you had multiple versions of them?
Corman: Yes we’ve had several; we’ve never done 3D before but we’ve had several versions where there will be an R-rated version, which will be nude, and another version which is not.
CB: Do you have a favorite example of those movies?
Corman: Let me see, because this is the first picture in a long time in which there’s been nudity. For the last few years, for whatever reason, everybody keeps their clothes on. I think in one of the Women in Prison pictures, we shot it two ways, one in which tops are taken off and the other in which they’re not. So you’re prepared for whatever the market wants. I think actually there’s less interest in the market for the topless version than there used to be and I don’t have a real explanation – other than possibly at one time, if you had an R-rated version, it was something unusual and startling and people came to see it.
Now that there’s so much nudity on the internet, it’s lost its novelty with people and there isn’t really much reason for it anyway. So I would say this is the first picture in 5 or 6 years, in which we’ve got nudity and we deliberately covered it for the reasons said, with everybody fully clothed because the market isn’t that good for this.
CB: Which version is airing on Epix? Because you shot it two ways for them.
Corman: They’re going to air it both ways.
CB: In 3D as well?
Corman: Yes. I think on August 25 there going to air it with the topless version, in 3D and 2D. Then later they’ll have the clothed version because we just finished the picture a few days ago. We’re still working on the clothed version, and that will take probably another month for that.
CB: That’s kind of going along with what you were saying before about seeing what the trends were. And by the way, I just love when you were explaining the plot of this film you looked so enthused and happy, it’s so great…
Corman: Well the lead is Miss Georgia so she really looks good. (laughter)
CB: It’s just remarkable that over the years you’ve been able to adapt to the changes in the cinematic landscape now for, how long?
Corman: Over 50 years.
CB: Amazing; how are you so good? You’re just the master at knowing what to do.
Corman: I don’t know if I’m the master but the thing is, you have to stay abreast of changing times. If possible, you have to be a little bit ahead; that’s pretty tough. Otherwise you get left behind.
That’s one the reasons I made this picture because our pictures are, generally, fairly low budget; I finance them with my own money. For 3D it had to be a little bit more expensive, and I leapt at the opportunity to try 3D.
I’m not certain that 3D will completely dominate film making, but I think it will grow more and more important.
CB: You saw the 3D boom in the ’50s and ’60s. You were part of that as well. What is your take on it now? Is it going to last?
Corman: I think this time it will last. What happened in the ’50s and early ’60s is that the pictures weren’t very well made, and the 3D effects weren’t that good. And so the audience got tired of seeing a picture in which a spear is always thrown at your face.
But I thing James Cameron, one of our graduates, changed the whole game. When he did Avatar he did a brilliant job of 3D; I really think Avatar is a masterpiece. What he also did, because I talked to him about it, he made a point of not going for the shots where the spear comes in the face; he shot it deliberately. He was using 3D and deliberately used foreground composition and so forth to take advantage of the 3D experience, but he didn’t go blatantly for those easy shock effects.
And I think that ushered in the current age of better 3D pictures. Which I think will continue to develop.