Plot: What’s it about?
Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) has just lost her lover, but she doesn’t have time to mourn, as she has to support herself and two daughters. As she takes over the deceased’s moonshine operation, that might seem simple enough, but that isn’t the case. Wilma finds minimal success in the moonshine trade, so she soon turns her attention elsewhere. She soon meets a man named Fred Diller (Tom Skerritt), who makes his living as a bank robber. He has a big heist on the horizon, so he invites Wilma and her girls to join him, but his intentions are not totally selfless. Fred soon sparks a relationship beyond friendship with the daughters, while Wilma makes other plans to cash in. She hatches a plot to kidnap a rich man’s daughter, then live off the ransom. But can this clan manage to stay ahead of the law, or will their riches be short lived?
Now this is what a Roger Corman picture should be, a madcap adventure with humor, violence, sex, William Shatner, and naked women. I have seen countless films produced or directed by Corman, but this one is perhaps the one that best represents his resume. Big Bad Mama was made for about half a million dollars, but was a box office smash, then became a hit on television and down the road, home video. Even now, the film remains quite popular and with good reason. I wouldn’t call Big Bad Mama a good movie, but it is a damn fun movie and I have seen it countless times. Angie Dickinson is a delight here in the title role, while William Shatner, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kirkland, and of course, Dick Miller can also be seen. The focus here is on wild fun, with lots of fist fights, car chases, shoot outs, and naked women. In the end, I can find no reason not to give Big Bad Mama a high score, so it earns a high recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
Big Bad Mama is presented in full frame, instead of the widescreen theatrical presentation. I was let down here, as other Corman films released by Disney have been given new widescreen transfers. The image here is still a mild improvement over previous editions, but a widescreen version would have been even better. The print is on the soft side, with some grain and debris to be seen. The softness impacts the visuals throughout, so detail is never that impressive. In defense however, the softness is inherent to the material’s low budget roots, so you can’t blame the transfer. I found contrast to be a touch weak, but solid in most scenes, while colors were well balanced. Not the best out there, but a decent presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is a low budget mono soundtrack, but it sounds passable, so no hard knocks. The soundtrack here is on par with the audio I’ve heard on other releases of this film. The elements have worn a little, so you will hear some flaws, but none prove to be a distraction. The banjo music is as clear as we could ask for, while other sound effects come across well, given the mono roots involved. No worries as far as dialogue either, so in the end, we have a basic, but competent soundtrack.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Corman provides his insight in an audio commentary track, in which he is joined by Dickinson, which makes for an excellent session. Corman discusses the more technical side of the shoot, as well as various stories he can recall, while Dickinson focuses on experiences with fellow cast members, as well as anecdotes about locations and other topics. This disc also includes a well crafted, though all too brief retrospective featurette, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.