"Coleman Francis had a dark, muddy vision. With some cars."Coleman Francis (1919-1973) is regarded as the leading challenger to Ed Wood for the title of Worst Film Director of All-Time. Starting out as an actor, he struggled to find work. He had bit roles in films like This Island Earth. He didn't even score a film credit til appearing as a detective in Roger Corman's Stakeout on Dope Street. Wanting to try his hand at filmmaking, at some point he met up with a highly decorated artillery gunner named Anthony Cardoza, who had the money to finance Francis' films. Both would appear in the films as well.He directed three films, and all of them have been featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.His death was as dark and murky as his films: according to co-producer Anthony Cardoza, he was found one day dead in the back of a station wagon, with a plastic bag around his bag and tube going into his throat (or around his neck, Cardoza never bothered to find out which because they were on the outs at the time.)
— Tom Servo, Mystery Science Theater 3000
The Coleman Francis Trilogy:
Coleman Francis' films contain examples of:
- Bookends: Almost certainly unintentional, but his first film, The Beast of Yucca Flats starts with Lanell Cado's character being killed by the mutated Dr. Javorsky, and his last film, Red Zone Cuba ends with another character played by Cado being wounded (and possibly killed; it's not very clear) in a shoot-out.
- The Cameo:
- Anthony Cardoza, Coleman's financier and producer, appears in every one of his films. Additionally, quite a few of the extras in The Skydivers are all members of Coleman's and Cardoza's extended families.
- Francis himself narrates Beast, appears as a gunman at the end of Skydivers, is the gas station attendant and newspaper buyer in Beast, and plays the lead in Cuba—a performance only enjoyable due to his physical resemblance to Curly Howard.
- Francis appeared in a bit part in This Island Earth.
- Dull Surprise: A disease endemic among Coleman Francis' casts.
- Fanservice: Coleman Francis makes sure large breasts are thrust into the camera Once per Episode. Not that the male viewers object, mind you.
- Fauxlosophic Narration:
- The narrator from Beast of Yucca Flats.
- Red Zone Cuba also experiences this at the very end when, out of nowhere, a voiceover suddenly says "Griffin. Ran all the way to hell with a penny, and a broken cigarette."
- Reportedly, "Beast" ended up this way because all the audio was accidentally erased after filming. It is more likely that it was filmed without dialog, however.
- Leave the Camera Running: Used far too many times to count - the scene where Griffin tries to put up the roof of the convertible in Red Zone Cuba comes to mind.Servo: "OK, I'm just a bush, you can pan away from me now."
- Motifs: Coffee, death, cigarettes, terrible depressing tragedy, light aircraft, Tony Cardoza, people getting shot from light aircraft, a mountain somewhere in Kern County, women getting brutalized and vigilante justice.
- Never Suicide: Francis died in 1973, allegedly of arteriosclerosis, but his body was found in the back of a station wagon with a plastic bag over his head and a tube going into his mouth or around his throat.Anthony Cardoza: I don't know if he committed suicide, or ... I have no idea. Never looked it up because we were on the outs at the time.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: All three films. Red Zone Cuba goes one step further and Shoots The Shaggy Dog. Not a very sympathetic one, though.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Only four female characters survive to the end of a Coleman Francis movie. One a blind/deaf girl who is raped and left without any means of support; the second is widowed and lives the rest of her life as a depressed hermit. Another is shot and wounded by Coleman's character. The last one is left with a husband who's been winged with a bullet by a gun-crazy policeman and two sons who were nearly killed by the Beast.