Angry Robot

Roger Corman on Acid

Recently I caught a theatrical showing of “X”, aka “The Man with the X-Ray Eyes”, followed by a Q&A with B-movie producing legend Corman himself. The film itself is unintentionally funny more often than not, has a few great scenes but is nothing to write home about. Corman, however, is delightfully full of stories n’ jokes. Here are some highlights, for your interest:



  • Corman and many others associated with the production of The Trip (cough Hopper) dropped the acid before making the film “to see what it was like.” Corman wanted to make a reasonably accurate and value-neutral picture. He had an “euphoric” experience, so he went around to those who said they’d had bad trips to find out what they were like. When the production company (American International Pictures) saw his cut, they thought it was too pro-drug, so they added the anti-drug opening sequence and the crack through the last frame, meant to imply that the protagonist had wrecked his life by dropping acid.
  • Dumbest question ever: “a lot of your films feature characters wearing sunglasses.” I know, it’s not even a question.
  • Someone with the option on Fantastic Four approached Corman, asking if he’d make the film, and for how much. As he was shooting at the time (early nineties I think) for $500,000 or thereabouts per film, he asked for $1-million. They said yes, he made the film. Afterwards they came to him and offered him $700,000 for his share, saying the film wouldn’t be released. He took the money, amazed at the sum, but then asked: why? The person explained: they took his film to a major studio and said hey, this is the sort of thing we could make. He used the million-dollar picture as a demo tape. The studio liked it, and said sure, let’s make it, budget $80-million. The ingenious rights-holder’s plan? After the big-budget film is released, then put out the low-budge Corman version as a prequel. Fucking incredible! Unfortunately, it got lost in development hell, as is the risk one runs with the majors.
  • Corman, being friends with Jack Nicholson, related that Kubrick did 120 takes of one shot with Nicholson – the largest number I’ve yet heard. Afterward, Nicholson said to Kubrick: “Stanley, I’m right there with ya. But you should know that I tend to peak around the 80th take.” Corman claimed he rarely went above three or four takes.
  • There was other stuff, but now I forget.
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