As of right now, the award for the most needlessly complex DVD title of the year seems in the bag for “Presenting Roger Corman’s … Best of the B*s Collection 1: Hot Bikes, Cool Cars & Bad Babes.”
Although a viable force independent cinema for more than five decades, Corman’s visibility has strengthened of late, thanks to the honorary Academy Award recently bestowed upon him for his body of work and shepherding of talent. Some of that is on display in the seven features contained in full here.
The four-disc set rounds up examples from two of Corman’s go-to genres: the wild hepcats of the 1950s and the wilder bikers of the 1960s and ’70s. I don’t know that any of them qualify as “good” “ and yes, many of Corman’s flicks do “ but most of them are fun, which is really all they ever set out to be. On that pure B-movie level, they succeed.
Of the 1950s features, the one to watch is “The Fast and the Furious.” The Vin Diesel franchise may have taken its name from Corman’s original, but the similarities end there, other than that they both deal with racing. Of the later stuff, tune in and turn on to “Angels Hard as They Come,” if only because it marks one of the earliest screen credits for Jonathan Demme, later the Oscar-winning director of “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Speaking of “Angels,” the other biker movies include “Naked Angels,” which is the pits, and “Bury Me an Angel,” which is better and has the distinction of starring and being directed by women. Jack Nicholson stars in “The Wild Ride,” while Brian Donlevy, Ellen Burstyn and Sid Haig are among the famous faces in Jack Hill’s “The Winner,” which, in 1969, seemed to be an immediate relic.
As with Infinity Entertainment Group’s recent Abbott and Costello box set, the menus leave something to be desired in the quality control department, but mitigating factors exist in the drive-in-style presentation, complete with vintage concession-stand ads of truly repulsive-looking foods and trailers of other Corman films, from the sci-fi highs of “X : The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” to the lowbrow lows of his naughty nurses trilogy. Let’s hope those candy stripers “ or should that be “strippers”? “ make their way onto “Collection 2.” “Rod Lott