The man who gave us movies about humanoids from the deep, crab monsters and wasp women is at it again. The release of Dinoshark on DVD brings legendary producer Roger Corman full circle, right back to the creature feature movies that made him famous in the 1950s.
“There have been creature features since the inception of films,” said the 85-year-old Corman in a recent phone interview. “What we’re doing now with Dinoshark and Shartopus is we’re going father and farther and it intrigues the audience. I don’t want to use the word outlandish but certainly they are the farthest out type of creature we’ve seen.”
The films—Dinoshark and Sharktopus—were made for the SyFy Channel in the US, and feature all of Corman’s trademarks—a little bit of star power (Eric Roberts stars in Sharktopus), a sense of humor and, of course, a wild hybrid creature.
“The creature comes first, then we try and figure out why the creature exists. That’s why the first picture we made of this group, was Dinocroc, which I made independently and sold to the SyFy Channel and it got a very big rating. So I then wet for Supergator and Dinoshark and the SyFy Channel called me and said, ‘Roger, you’ve come up with all the title, now we have a title, Sharktopus. Do you want to make it?’
“I said no and gave them my theory, which I still believe in, now with some modification, which is that you can go up to a certain level of insanity with these titles and the audience is with you because they want to see it. But if you go over a level, what I call the acceptable level of insanity, and the audience will say, ‘Oh you’ve got to be kidding,’ and they’ll turn against you.”
So far audiences haven’t turned against Corman and his outrageous creatures. His next feature for SyFy is Piranhaconda, a movie he says, doesn’t “up the level of insanity, but it maintains it.”
Corman, however, is a realist. He’s been in Hollywood since Eisenhower was president, so to say he understands the ups and down of the film business is an understatement akin to saying Sharktopus gets a little bitey sometimes.
“I think [the business] is cyclical. You make a certain type of picture, it’s successful, other people make them too, you may remake or continue with that cycle, then the audience gets saturated with them. They grow tired and the cycle turns down. It never goes quite away. Then after a few years someone will make a good one with a slightly different point of view and the cycle will start all over again. I think we’re near the peak of that cycle now. My theory is that we can run another year or so but then the cycle will start to turn back down.”
But when the creature cycle burns out, will he stop producing movies and take a well deserved break? After all, he has produced almost 400 films.
“I simply love the process of making films,” he says. “It is creative, interesting, fascinating and occasionally lucrative. I like the combination of all those. I never intend to retire.”