David Gorman shlocks his way through Brian Reddin’s It Came from Connemara!!, a fascinating documentary about the production studio that low-budget, B-movie legend Roger Corman established in Galway.
The first time I heard Roger Corman’s name, in an interview with Martin Scorsese discussing the influence he had on his career. I remember that I thought Scorsese said, in his fast New York accent, ‘Roger Gorman’. So with a similar surname to myself, I searched into some of his films on IMBD. I was a little surprised for two reasons: firstly, he did not have the same surname (listen to Scorsese say his name and you can excuse my mistake); and secondly, his filmography consisted of names like The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955) Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954) and Candy Stripe Nurses (1974). I was surprised, and wondered why one of my favourite directors was speaking so highly of this B-movie filmmaker.
As I read further into the career of this man I soon realised that the admiration came not only from Scorsese but from some of American cinema’s biggest names. Avoiding a long list of familiar names that are easily recognisable to anyone reading this, it is suffice to say that Roger Corman has an entry in the film lexicon of many filmmakers in America and especially those from the New Hollywood era.
Fast forward about eight years after my first hearing of Roger Corman in a YouTube interview with Martin Scorsese – I am in the Town Hall Theatre Galway watching a documentary about his production studio located just a few miles from where I am sitting.
It Came from Connemara!! is a documentary by director Brian Reddin about the production studio that Roger Corman established in Galway, where in the 1990s for five years an Irish crew manufactured about twenty films. I say manufactured because you get the sense that it was like a machine going from one film to another, covering genres such as horror, sci-fi, action and romance.
From the beginning of the documentary there are hilarious anecdotes conveying stories of a filmmaking regime that will possibly never be imitated again. It is a great insight into a time when inexperienced Irish crews might one day be in the make-up department and the next, be assistant director. Make no mistake, Corman did not want his director spending time worrying about every aspect of a scene or have pleasing aesthetics in mind, it was pure commerce.
The footage from the films made at that time are a great addition to the documentary and much to Reddin’s relief, Corman, who is notorious for being frugal, kindly let them use the footage free of charge. There is something surreal about seeing a huge shoot out in the middle of Shop Street, or a car exploding outside a small garage in Spiddal, and as someone who lives in Galway I am now very keen to see them.
As Ireland introduced higher wages and theatrical releases for the type of B-Movies Corman was putting out decreased, his time in Ireland came to an unavoidable end. You can sense Corman has a genuine affection for that time in his career, he reminisces with a hint of pride “It was the Irish branch of what was known as The Corman Film School”.
His legacy in Ireland might not be as widely known as his American one, nevertheless, similar to the way Corman started the careers of so many accomplished American filmmakers, he achieved the same in Ireland. Many of the people who worked on the Irish branch of the Corman Film School now have significant and accomplished careers. This film is about more than Corman’s studio in the West of Ireland, a sense of nostalgia permeates this documentary looking back at an era that might never be replicated again. For any film fans out there this a great watch.