Roger Corman is a Hollywood legend. The Oscar-winning producer might be the single-most prolific filmmaker ever with over 300 movies to his name. Along the way, he provided a big break to Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Jack Nicholson and many others. His "cheap and fast" approach to sci-fi, horror and action has given us timeless cult classics like "The Little Shop of Horrors," "Death Race 2000," "Caged Heat" and "Galaxy of Terror." However, Corman is hoping to top himself yet again with his first 3D movie, "Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader."
The film is about young cheerleading-hopeful Cassie Stratton (Jena Sims), who's so desperate to excel at the sport she subjects herself to a radical new drug that is supposed to increase her athletic abilities. Naturally, it all goes disastrously wrong and Cassie grows to gigantic proportions. If that wasn't bad enough, her mean girl rival, Brittany (Olivia Alexander), steals the formula, and as sure as the sun rises, we've got a topless 3D fight between two gigantic cheerleaders on our hands. (Honestly, there is nothing we could say to follow that, but somehow Moviefone has to try.)
We had the opportunity to speak with Corman and his two cheerleader stars on what it means to make a cult movie and revealed their unique casting choices for an updated "Rock 'n' Roll High School."
Is this one of those movies that starts with a title, and then you figure everything else out after that?
Corman: Yes [Laughs].
When you hear that title, what’s your first thought?
Sims: "Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman."
Andrews: I just thought it was going to be a crazy good time, like something I wanted to be apart of.
Roger, I assume it’s old hat for you at this point.
Corman: A little bit. For some reason in this type of picture, any time you see a scientist working on a new serum at the start of a picture, you know that serum is going to go wrong and there are going to be disastrous results.
I can't believe that this is your first 3D movie.
Corman: Well I was thinking of it in the late 1950s when I first started making films, and Bill Castle and a couple of other guys made 3D pictures. It was in vogue for awhile and then it faded because the pictures weren’t very good. Essentially it was brought back by one man, Jim Cameron. “Avatar” was such a good film that it resurrected the whole concept of 3D. “Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader” weirdly enough is made for television. Epix asked me to make it in 3D which I thought was strange for television, but their research indicates that 3D on television in two or three years is going to be very important.
As audience members, what kind of shelf do you think this new wave of 3D will have?
Sims: I think it’s going to stick around because everything is evolving; they're making more fashionable glasses to wear, they’re making 3D TV’s more available. I think it’s here to stay.
Alexander: I think it’s about enhancing a certain type of film. And I think that if it’s not going to enhance the storytelling portion of it, then it’s gimmicky. But I think in some films it’s an experience, and I think with ours especially we worked really hard to make it 3D. We shot it in Real 3D. It’s not converted in post. I think little things like that make the difference in the long run.
Corman: I’ve read analyses of the box office and the pictures that are converted gross significantly less than the true 3D pictures. That’s going to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Considering your prolificness, what do you make of the typical Hollywood budget?
Corman: You can take one of our graduates, Jim Cameron, and when he made “Titanic” it was the most expensive picture ever made. When he made “Avatar” he broke his own record and made the most expensive picture ever made. I believe the money was not wasted. In both “Titanic” and “Avatar” you can look at the screen and you can see the spectacular quality of the film. So if Jim spends 100 million or 200 million, it’s all there on the screen. What bothers me is when somebody spends 90 million and it’s two people walking around a room. Then I say what happened to the movie?
When I hear the name Roger Corman, a phrase that immediately pops into my head is "Cult Cinema." What does it mean to be associated with that phrase?
Sims: It means someone’s going to dress up as me for Halloween.
Alexander: It’s a time and a place in your life and you always remember it; that film is in your heart, you know? I think you are ingrained much, much deeper into people’s lives than just, “Oh something I’m going to watch on a Saturday night.” It’s something that they're passionate about, it’s something they want more of.
Sims: They watch it ten times.
Corman: I think a cult film is a film that is somewhat separate from the mainstream. It’s a film that has something different that appeals very strongly to a small group of people. The equivalent of a cult religion. There are all the mainstream religions and there’s a cult religion that offers something specific that is different from the mainstream.
Horror can be a real mixed bag in terms of opportunities for actresses. What kind of expectations do you have as a leading lady in a horror film?
Alexander: I think that most of the actresses that I look up to started as Scream Queens. And I think it’s a great place to start. It’s a genre where people become your fan and they stay your fan forever, and I would only hope that for the both of us.
Sims: It’s kind of a rite of passage. I thought for sure somebody was going to die, but nobody did [Laughs].
Alexander: I found it really empowering to play a giant, and I found even the nudity in the film to be very liberating. It was scary, but to be in a really uncomfortable position, especially as an actress, is when you’re doing interesting work. This kind of film and sexplotation films and horror films, all of those sub-genres really do worship women. And I think people that don’t see that and think they’re bad for women are wrong. And I studied women’s studies -- so what! [Laughs]
Corman: It's a difficult question to answer, but I think the films stand for themselves. When I started my company New World in the '70s, the first picture was “The Student Nurses.” It had a fleeting bit of nudity but it was the story of three nurses. The writer wrote the story of all three and in each one, the girl's boyfriend came to the rescue and solved the problem. I said "No, each girl solves her own problem, not her boyfriend." And I think that’s been key to the success of the films that we’ve made.
One female-driven movie of yours is "Rock 'n' Roll High School." I know that Howard Stern has supposedly had the rights for a remake, but if you had the opportunity to make “Rock 'n' Roll High School” now, who would you put in place of The Ramones?
Corman: I don’t know enough about music. At one time I picked all the music for every film. But the day came when I didn’t know who the hot pop and rock acts were. So I just said to the young people in the office, “You tell me, I will then listen to their music, but you guys are going to pick it.”
Sims: I say One Direction. They’re more wholesome, but they would bring a crowd.
Olivia: I don’t know if you could ever top The Ramones. That “rebelness" -- I don’t see any rock bands doing that kind of stuff nowadays. Sorry.
"Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader 3D" premieres on August 25 on EPIX HD.