Roger Corman is not exactly known for high quality, big budget movies. Low-budget but fun schlock is more like it. His work on a Fantastic Four movie, mostly meant to keep the movie rights until they figured out what to do with him, has become infamous now that it’s sneaked out of the rights holder’s movie vault. However, this isn’t the only superhero production Corman has worked on. Have you heard of The Black Scorpion?
Created for Showtime’s Roger Corman Presents, the movie stars Joan Severence as the title heroine, who takes on the identity in order to avenge her father’s death at the hands of the evil Breathtaker (imagine a more evil version of the Asthma Monster that Captain America fought in those PSA comics and played by Adam West using Dark Helmet’s tailor). This is not easy as she also has to escape the police besides really being Angel City police detective Darcy Walker and has a complicated relationship with her partner, Michael Russo. She’s aided by former thief Argyle Sims, who created all of her gadgets but is also the brother of the Gangster Prankster, a sort of Joker/Two-Face hybrid merged with a gangster rapper (I’d give a name but I’m not up on my gangster rappers) the Black Scorpion fought in her second film, Black Scorpion II: Aftershock, alongside the title villainess. These two movies did well enough that Sci-Fi (oddly not Showtime) greenlit a one season TV series.
Lintel takes over from Severence as Darcy/Black Scorpion, Bruce Abbot’s Michael Russo is replaced by Steve Rafferty, played by Scott Valentine (having played a thug in the second movie) rather than either of the movie actors, and Garrett Morris is replaced by Brandon “BT” Terrell as Argyle. West would return as Breathtaker in a later episode, (fun fact, Frank Gorshin, the Ridder of West’s Batman, would appear as another supervillain in the series) and there would be one or two returns, but most of the cast changed. While some of Black Scorpion’s enemies would return (through resurrection by a well-meaning mad scientist–which gives you some idea what you’re in for) the first episode has the hero dealing with a gun nut with a gun for an arm. Yes, it is that kind of show.
You may remember Firearm from my BW Video Review of Hard Time On Planet Earth. Martin Kove has played both hero and villain over the years. Mayor Worth is played by Robert Pine, mostly known for playing a good police captain on the original CHiPs.
While Shout Factory doesn’t currently have the movies (too bad), they do have the series available to watch at Shout Factory TV, but all they have at their store for home video at post time is the similarly named 50s movie as riffed by Mystery Science Theater 3000 which has nothing to do with superheroes or Roger Corman.