Hollywood Boulevard was the result of producer Jon Davisons bet with notorious B-Movie skinflint Roger Corman that Davidson could produce, along with novice directors Joe Dante and Allan Arkush, a film made for even less money than Corman himself. (Dante and Arkush were already working for Cormans company, New World Pictures, assembling film trailers and TV spots.) Intrigued by the idea, as he would almost have to be, Corman gave them the nod. That anything watchable would result from this would have seemed unlikely. That an actually pretty decent film was made is practically a miracle.
To save money, a very large portion of the film, and more or less anything action oriented in it, consists of stock footage taken from numerous other Corman produced pictures like Big Bad Mama, Death Race 2000 and The Big Doll House. The rest of the material, to save funds, involved your typical "Girl goes to Hollywood to be a Star" sort of affair. This allowed them to use the crew and equipment as actually part of their movie.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around the mysterious deaths of our heroines fellow starlets. (The solution of which is pretty obvious from the get-go.) Otherwise the film is extremely episodic. Of more interest is the great B-Movie cast. Candice Rialson, one of New Worlds reigning sexpots at the time, plays the lead in solid fashion. Also on hand are Dick Miller, here working for Dante for the first of many times and in a role much larger than he normally got, as well as frequent screen partners Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov.
The score is quite good, with a number of very good songs (one of which is extraordinarily vulgar), including the accomplished title ditty "Hello, Hollywood." Odder for those unacquainted with 70s exploitation will be the extremely unPC antics on display here. Not only is nudity rather copious, but rape is twice treated in a fairly jocular fashion. Meanwhile, while most of the starlets deaths are played for laughs, there is one very long and immensely cruel (which is a compliment, of sorts, to the filmmakers) stalking and slashing scene. In a fitting homage, this entire sequence itself was later lifted and inserted whole in a remake of Not of This Earth. Made in ten days for about $50,000, the tone of Hollywood Boulevard is understandably all over the map.
Considering the budget and when it was made, the film looks pretty decent, and the sound in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo is even better. The lighting is sometimes lacking a bit, the color palette is muted and theres some slight grain all common to low-budget films of the era, -- but this is about as good as the movies ever going to look.
The disc is nicely loaded up. First is a section called "Cutting Room Floor," which presents the trailers for all seven of the movies Hollywood Boulevard borrowed footage from. Also included are trailers for other New World films currently available on DVD, including Piranha, Suburbia and Battle Beyond the Stars. Then theres a series of Cast & Crew profiles for Joe Dante, Jon Davison, Allan Arkush, Candace Rialson, Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov and Roger Corman.
The big gun is an extremely fun and informative commentary track by Davison, Dante and Arkush. (The former two had provided a perhaps even better track for the earlier disc of Piranha.) An amusing track for people who like this sort of thing, its positively invaluable for anyone interested in the production of exploitation fare of that time period. For anyone particularly interested in the career of Roger Corman, this and the Piranha commentary are a must, and an interesting counterweight to the recent slate of commentaries that Corman himself has provided for a number of his films.
Ken Begg, 7/5/2001