Seriously though, this is something I didn't even notice had been bugging me until tonight.
I've seen a fairly small sampling of Roger Corman's ouevre, but what I've seen I've consistantly liked. Death Race 2000, Little Shop of Horrors (the original), Bucket of Blood, Battle Beyond the Stars, X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes, all trashy, exploitative and cheesy movies that are about 1000 times more fun and inventive than most of the movies made last year.
What's so bizarre is that Corman's motives are so clearly commercial. He's in it for a quick buck, and he's not above ripping off popular blockbusters. So why are his films still so much more entertaining than polished mainstream Hollywood flicks? I mean, the "Piranha" flicks were just cashing in on "Jaws", but they're FUN. "Battle Beyond the Stars" is a "Star Wars" knockoff, but it's FUN.
I mean, it's clear from these that you can do a quick and dirty copy who's only point is to ride a trend and still make a nifty little movie. So why doesn't it happen more often?
Peruse the video shelves for low-ranked, budget-conscious flicks and you find an endless array of sleazy "erotic thrillers" and thuddingly boring Jaws ripoffs with a terrible CGI monster. There seems to be a real dearth of good flicks at this level, which to me is strange: it seems like the skimpy budgets would allow filmmakers to go nuts with exploitative but fun films the way not only Corman but a whole bunch of low-grade producers did back in the day.
I mean, when your budgets' teensy enough, shouldn't you get a bunch of producers who simply say, "OK, make it like Lord of the Rings" or "Zombies are big right now, make a zombie movie" and then turn some hungry young filmmakers loose to create micro-budgeted masterpieces? You can't tell me there aren't a ton of Peter Jackson or Guillermo Del Toro wannabes out there who wouldn't jump at the chance to make a movie like that, whatever the budget. This is the "filmmaking stratum" that should be pumping new talents into the business and cutting loose with the freedom and verve that low-budget filmmaking provides.
So why isn't it happening?