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Three Roger Corman Films from Disney

The Cry Baby Killer (October 1/07)

There's little doubt that any enduring interest in The Cry Baby Killer is due entirely to the presence of Jack Nicholson in the title role, as the film generally comes off as a slow-moving and surprisingly uneventful piece of work. Nicholson - making his screen debut - plays Jimmy Wallace, a juvenile delinquent who finds himself caught up in a hostage situation after a confrontation with a few bullies goes awry. Jimmy, cornered by the cops, takes refuge in a storeroom with a hapless cook and a baby-toting customer, and it's not long before a full-fledged media circus (complete with a hot-dog cart!) begins to form outside. The Cry Baby Killer has clearly been shot on the cheap in as few takes as possible, and the film's lack of overtly cinematic qualities is exacerbated by the unusually simplistic story (ie much of the movie consists of characters just waiting around for something to happen). Nicholson's efforts to deliver anything more than a laughably broad performance prove fruitless, as the actor finds himself trapped within the confines of a character that seemingly possesses just two emotions (fear and anger). Stripped of the curiosity factor stemming from Nicholson's mere presence, The Cry Baby Killer would hardly be worth mentioning - though, as far as Roger Corman flicks go, one could certainly do far worse than this.

out of

Eat My Dust (January 18/08)

Eat My Dust is an unusually tedious chase movie that boasts few positive attributes, as writer/director Charles B. Griffith has infused the proceedings with a plotless vibe that's exacerbated by a relentlessly silly sensibility. Ron Howard stars as Hoover Neibold, a plucky teen who steals a race car in an effort to impress a beautiful girl (Christopher Norris' Darlene) and subsequently embarks on a reckless joyride through the small town in which his father is the sheriff. The majority of Eat My Dust follows Hoover and Darlene as they attempt to outwit a series of increasingly dim-witted cops, and it quickly becomes clear that Griffith is either unwilling or unable to offer up any elements designed to capture (and hold) the viewer's interest. Howard's expectedly affable performance notwithstanding, the film primarily comes off as an egregiously amateurish effort that suffers from an almost ridiculously dated vibe - ensuring that all but those with fond childhood memories of the flick will find exceedingly little here worth embracing.

out of

The Intruder (January 20/08)

The Intruder casts William Shatner as Adam Cramer, a slick segregationist who rolls into a small Southern town and subsequently whips its townspeople into a racist frenzy. Director Roger Corman's low-rent sensibilities prove to be particularly problematic here, as the film - though exceedingly well acted by Shatner - suffers from an amateurish vibe that extends to virtually every aspect of the proceedings. As such, there's little doubt that it becomes increasingly difficult to take any of this seriously - a feeling that's compounded by Charles Beaumont's distinctly overwrought and far-from-subtle screenplay. The almost unbearably deliberate pace only exacerbates the movie's many deficiencies, and it's also worth noting that The Intruder isn't even effective as a look at the way things lamentably used to be (something that's due to the broad strokes with which Corman has painted the picture). Shatner's surprisingly commanding, downright charismatic performance aside, The Intruder primarily comes off as a dated relic of the 1960s that's almost entirely devoid of anything even resembling relevance.

out of

About the DVDs: Buena Vista Home Entertainment presents each of these titles with full-screen transfers, along with a smattering of supplemental materials.
© David Nusair