Now Streaming in Austin: "Meet the Creeper"

Watch this ATX contribution to the Corman Challenge

The great creature actor Rondo Hatton gets his tribute in "Meet the Creeper," one of the two-minute shorts made for the Corman Quarantine Challenge

Welcome to Now Streaming in Austin, highlighting locally made titles to watch while self-quarantining.
Bored at home? Why not make your own two-minute movie? That's what cinema legend Roger Corman wants you to do, and Austin filmmakers are already heeding the call.

Corman has been such a massive influence on low-budget cinema that he's rightfully known as King Corman, and with his wife, Julie (both Fantastic Fest lifetime achievement hall of fame inductees) have spent decades spotting and nurturing talent. He gave early, pivotal breaks to Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, John Sayles, and James Cameron, directed 56 films, produced over 400, and never saw a sleazy or shocking moment that he didn't love.

Like everyone else, he's stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, and so he and Julie have made an announcement. "We've decided to start something new. The first and hopefully last Corman Quarantine Film Festival."

They're looking for submissions, and there are only three very simple rules:

1) You have to stay home and stay safe and film the video inside your house or in the backyard.
2) The short must be filmed on a cell phone.
3) It must be under two minutes.

The winner will get a signed certificate from the king of the B-movies, and Corman himself will also cut a trailer for your film.

We'd love to see a huge contingent of Austin filmmaking talent engage with this challenge from the king of exploitation, and here's one of the very first from none other than longtime Chronicle contributor Joe O'Connell.

He's managed quite the reversal. Many filmmakers make a short as a proof of concept, but O'Connell has done a redux of his upcoming documentary about Rondo Hatton, Rondo and Bob.

Who's Rondo Hatton? Why, one of the all-time great creature performers of the golden age of cinema. Diagnosed late in life with Acromegaly, which caused his bones to keep growing and changed his features, he moved from journalism to acting, gaining traction as a heavy in multiple movies. That was, until 1944, when he was cast as the Creeper in The Pearl of Death. Universal Pictures saw him as the next franchise horror player, but he died from a heart attack in 1946 before the first two movies in the series, House of Horrors and The Brute Man, could be released. O'Connell's movie tracks not just the story of Hatton, but how The Texas Chain Saw Massacre set design genius Bob Burns became an early advocate for his reappraisal as a genre great.

We're still waiting for the full feature, but O'Connell put together a quick redux version of the life of Hatton for the competition. He wrote, "I have at home the Rondo Hatton mask special effects wizard Paul Smith created for Rondo and Bob, so naturally I used it to tell a brief version of Rondo's story with my wife and son in the mix (he's Rondo in the doorway and he also plays the trombone)."

Read more about Rondo and Bob (and see the first trailer) right here, watch O'Connell's short – and then make your own two-minute epic! Just post the end result to Instagram with the hashtag #CormanChallenge before the deadline at the end of the month.

"Meet the Creeper"

• Vimeo (link)

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