Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scorpion Releasing - BLOODY MAMA on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scorpion Releasing - BLOODY MAMA on Blu-ray

BLOODY MAMA (1970; Roger Corman)
I came to BLOODY MAMA originally through its follow-up film BOXCAR BERTHA. I was very into Scorese at the time and I had heard him interviewed about his early career and working with Corman and how he had been hired to direct the film to capitalize on the success of BLOODY MAMA. BOXCAR BERTHA is the weaker of the two films, but it's tough to compete against the cast of MAMA. Corman of course went on to milk the "MAMA" series a bit more an made both BIG BAD MAMA and even BIG BAD MAMA II. So anyway, after I ran through Scorsese's films I jumped over to Corman's and eventually found my way to BLOODY MAMA. One thing that struck me right away was the title sequence. It wasn't every Corman film that had such a nice one like this to kick things off. It has a title song and the credits are juxtaposed over old yellow shots of guns in some kind of catalog (see video clip below). It's a great tone setter that puts you squarely into the right frame of mind. And let's talk about Shelley Winters for a second. She's one dynamite actress and it's kind of a funny thing to find a great performance from her in a film like this, but it's not too surprising if you've seen any decent amount of her acting. She is a committed master of her craft and clearly dives deep (POSEIDON ADVENTURE pun intended) into every role she takes. In the case of Ma Barker she is darned convincing. She can say "Anybody move - you're dead!" like nobody's business and makes it truly believable (like she would truly kill any person that moved at that moment). Something above her face and how she used it when she delivers dialogue like that. BLOODY MAMA also has some notoriety in part because of it being an early role for Robert De Niro. It's not a huge role, but it allows a showcase for in him certain scenes and you can see a glimmer of what he would become even three years later (and beyond). Corman movies have a special feeling to them and this is no exception. In this case the film has even more character as he filmed on real locations in Arkansas. It's also often a neat thing to see actors doing their own stunts in Corman films. Don Stroud has some fun fight scenes and you can clearly see it's him being tackled and wrestled with. 

Special Features:
The main feature here is a 16 minute interview with director Roger Corman. I am one of those who tends to enjoy Cotman interviews. I've always been amused by the way Roger speaks and he tends to be a pretty good storyteller. Corman goes into detail here about picking out the script (which AIP had already put some money into) and casting the movie with Shelley Winters via the Actor's Studio. He has some neat tales of Shelley Winters' process and the special prep she did for some specific scenes. Corman also touches on working with the other actors like Robert De Niro, Bruce Dern, Don Stroud and the rest of the cast. A very enjoyably informative chat with a seasoned veteran director. 

And apropos of Shelley Winters, here is a neat interview she did with Sally Kirkland:

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