A comment on a previous post about the machinations of "Expelled" financial backer Walt Ruloff got me thinking about the general willingness of Hollywood to repackage films to their audience, often to the point of being misleading.

A good example is the Roger Corman movie "The Terror" (1963) which starred an aging Boris Karloff and young up-and-comer Jack Nicholson. Karloff only appears in about a third of the movie, which is a mishmash of footage shot by different directors and only later assembled into something like a story line by Corman himself. It's a pretty bad movie, and has been released under more than one title. When it was originally sold to the American audience, it featured a poster of Boris's head lurking menacingly behind a stylized spider web. Nicholson's name is buried at the bottom of the poster, but it is in fact a young and energetic Nicholson who carries the action as the film's protagonist. People who were looking for a starring vehicle for Karloff were probably disappointed.

Later, after 'Easy Rider' (1970) made Nicholson a star, the film was re-released to video with a cover that shows Nicholson kneeling over an ingenue, receiving equal billing with Karloff, whose visage is now reduced to (apparently) a set of eerie eyes. But, again, any young person who was looking to see another movie with the characteristic Nicholson sensibility (rakishly sly and iconoclastic) would've been terribly disappointed if they rented this film. Nicholson at this stage of his career is no different from (this is gonna hurt) Kerwin Matthews or John Kerr.

That's Hollywood!
That's Hollywood!
That's Hollywood!


R2K said...

: )

Sloan said...

I just rented "Witchfinder General" this weekend. I found out it was also released under the name "The Conqueror Worm" -- evidently to capitalize on the recent success of other Poe-derived movies -- but I can understand why they changed the title as it has nothing to do with the story that is told in the film.

This seems to have happened quite often with these old B-movies. I remember when I rented "Cry of the Banshee" (another Vincent Price goody), there was an interview with (I think) the director in which he revealed that the AIP producers would market a film around the name, with the script as an afterthought. The script for "Banshee" was so bad, and went through such a complete rewrite, that the original banshee idea was almost completely written out of the script.

But hey, it's still a totally fun, campy cheese-fest, and Vincent Price is made of awesome.