Tag Archives: Dick Miller

The Terror (1963, Roger Corman)

It might be too easy just to call The Terror terrible or to go into the various puns one could make with “terrible” and the title. It’s not a surprisingly bad film at all. It’s an expectedly bad film, given it opens with a pointless scare attempt. Boris Karloff shows up in the first scene-walking through his spooky castle-and then disappears for about twenty minutes. Corman apparently just wanted to get the horror “name” in the first scene.

After the opening titles, which are deceptively classy-Ronald Stein’s music starts off strong before going bad as Corman uses it all the time-Jack Nicholson takes over as protagonist. Nicholson’s a French soldier in Germany or someplace, trying to get back to the rest of his regiment. Oh, I forgot, it’s a period piece-mid-1790s, I think. A period piece set in Germany, filmed on the California coast, starring Nicholson who doesn’t even try to hide his disinterest.

The Terror is a great example of when low budget filmmaking doesn’t have any inventiveness. The script is unnecessarily talky. Leo Gordon and Jack Hill’s dialogue goes on and on, probably to pad things out. Then there’s all the excess scenes. The Terror, at seventy minutes, should be lean. Instead, it’s bulky.

Karloff can do this kind of garbage with his eyes closed, but Nicholson isn’t able to fake it. Without a compelling lead, there’s just nothing to this one. It’s a dreadful film.

Very pretty scenery at times though.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Roger Corman; written by Leo Gordon and Jack Hill; director of photography, John M. Nickolaus Jr.; edited by Stuart O’Brien; music by Ronald Stein; released by American International Pictures.

Starring Boris Karloff (Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe), Jack Nicholson (Lt. Andre Duvalier), Sandra Knight (Helene), Dick Miller (Stefan), Dorothy Neumann (Katrina) and Jonathan Haze (Gustaf).


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A Bucket of Blood (1959, Roger Corman)

Until the unfortunate deus ex machina finish, A Bucket of Blood is a small wonder. Even with the finish, the film manages to succeed; the performances are just too strong.

Dick Miller plays a simple, well-meaning bus boy–who also takes drink orders, apparently for no tips–at an art café. The beatnik patrons condescend to him, his boss is a jerk, the only one nice to him is his female coworker.

Every performance–boss, beatnik, girl–is fantastic. Miller’s great in the lead too, with Corman and writer Charles B. Griffith giving him the time to show how his character becomes a spree killer. It’s okay because he’s turning the bodies into art, after all. While Griffith and Corman have a lot of fun at the beatnik culture’s expense, they don’t shortchange Miller. His transformation is serious… even when the results are funny.

As the girl, Barboura Morris doesn’t get a lot to do until the end but then Griffith and Corman give her one amazing scene. It probably only lasts a couple minutes, but it seems so much longer thanks to Morris. One can just watch the thoughts on her face, in her measured reactions.

Antony Carbone is good as Miller’s boss, who sort of understands his responsibility in the situation. Julian Burton is awesome as the intellectual beatnik who takes Miller under his wing. John Brinkley and John Herman Shaner are hilarious as the stoned beatniks who offer uninvited commentary.

Blood is an excellent little picture.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Roger Corman; written by Charles B. Griffith; director of photography, Jacques R. Marquette; edited by Anthony Carras; music by Fred Katz; released by American International Pictures.

Starring Dick Miller (Walter Paisley), Barboura Morris (Carla), Antony Carbone (Leonard de Santis), Julian Burton (Maxwell H. Brock), Ed Nelson (Art Lacroix), John Brinkley (Will), John Herman Shaner (Oscar), Judy Bamber (Alice), Myrtle Vail (Mrs. Swickert), Bert Convy (Lou Raby), Jhean Burton (Naolia), Bruno VeSota (Art Collector) and Lynn Storey (Sylvia).


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The Little Shop of Horrors (1960, Roger Corman)

The filmmaking economy in The Little Shop of Horrors is astounding. Most of the film takes place in one set–the titular shop–and Charles B. Griffith’s script works hard to imply the world outside that set. My favorite bit in the script is probably when leading man Jonathan Haze is shocked to discover peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. His mother (Myrtle Vail in one of Shop‘s only mediocre performances) only cooks food with healing properties, which they have because she adds medicinal ingredients. Griffith’s a funny guy.

Corman’s direction is best with the exterior scenes. The masterful chase sequence through a tire factory is stunningly out of place in a horror comedy. There’s also a great sequence with Haze meeting a loose woman (Meri Welles), who keeps magically popping into shots. Both of these sequences come in the second half of the picture; the first half just has to rely on the great acting.

Haze is fine, so’s Jackie Joseph as his love interest, but Mel Welles carries the whole Shop as Haze’s boss. He should be a buffoon–no one in Shop is wholly sympathetic–but Welles’s sincere performance makes the character the film’s most human.

In the supporting cast, there are good performances from John Herman Shaner and Jack Nicholson. Dick Miller’s great in a too small role. Griffith’s script makes sure Leola Wendorff gets a couple decent moments too.

Fred Katz’s music is awesome.

Shop is quite impressive; Corman, Griffith and Welles all do excellent work.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Roger Corman; written by Charles B. Griffith; director of photography, Archie R. Dalzell; edited by Marshall Neilan Jr.; music by Fred Katz; released by The Filmgroup.

Starring Jonathan Haze (Seymour Krelboyne), Jackie Joseph (Audrey Fulquard), Mel Welles (Gravis Mushnick), Dick Miller (Burson Fouch), Myrtle Vail (Winifred Krelboyne), Karyn Kupcinet (Shirley), Toby Michaels (Shirley’s Friend), Leola Wendorff (Mrs. Siddie Shiva), Lynn Storey (Mrs. Hortense Fishtwanger – Society of Silent Flower Observers of Southern California), Wally Campo (Det. Sgt .Joe Fink), Jack Warford (Det. Frank Stoolie), Meri Welles (Leonora Clyde), John Herman Shaner (Dr. Phoebus Farb) and Jack Nicholson (Wilbur Force).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED ON BASP | THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960) / PLEASE DON’T EAT MY MOTHER (1973).