“Oh this is great, this is really encouraging.” “Corman The Barbarian.” “Corman The Employer.” “Well, this must have been filmed painstakingly over the course of three days.” “Good ol’ Roger Corman. This is going to go down hard, guys.” “Mm-hmm.” “To be like the Cor-man, to live like the Cor-man.” He directed 55 films and produced some 385 films in his career. He helped distribute Fellini, Bergman, Truffaut, and Kurosawa pictures in the U.S. He appeared in minor acting roles in The Godfather Part II (1974), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and Apollo 13 (1995). In 1964, he was the youngest moviemaker to have a retrospective at the Cinematheque Francaise, British Film Institute, and the Museum of Modern Art. In 2009 he was given an Honorary Academy Award “for his rich engendering of films and filmmakers.”
His credits include A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Intruder (1962), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), The Wild Angels (1966), The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967), Bloody Mama (1970), Gas-s-s (1970), and a number of movies that graced MST3K over the years. Swamp Women (1956), It Conquered the World (1956), Gunslinger (1956), The Undead (1957), The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1958), Teenage Caveman (1958). He is as much MST as FVI or Sandy Frank. Trailblazer or TV Dinner?
Trailblazer for sure! Corman liked to make low budget alternatives to big money features such as Lord’s of the Deep, Deathstalker, Battle Beyond the Stars, etc. While these were not quite up to movies like The Abyss or Star Wars they were still entertaining! Many of my favorite Mst episodes are Corman’s. My favs in order;
Lord’s of the Deep
Attack of the Giant Leeches
It Conquered the World
Did I miss any Bruce? Sometimes Corman’s name wasn’t even attached to the movie (Like Deathstalker).
Producing widens the net. Avalanche (1978) was his. New World Pictures. Dementia 13 (1963), Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965), Targets (1968), The Dunwich Horror (1970), Boxcar Bertha (1972), Sweet Kill (1973), Caged Heat (1974), Cockfighter (1974), Death Race 2000 (1974), Grand Theft Auto (1977), Piranha (1978), Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979), Battle Beyond The Stars (1980). He facilitated so many careers.
Ah, Roger Corman. A Corman film is almost always worth watching, if only to marvel at what he could pull off with leftovers. The man also recognised talent, and he is famous for giving half of Hollywood’s greats their start. He cast good actors in his cheap movies and sometimes that’s enough to carry the whole thing.
People who have only been exposed to the MSTied Corman films should go watch Bucket of Blood and the Poe adaptations. Or watch the original The Little Shop of Horrors and marvel at what he put together in a couple of days.
Other Corman MSTs? Night of the Blood Beast (1958), Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), High School Big Shot (1959), Avalanche (1978), Starcrash (1978), Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1985), Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell (1988), Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (1989), Lords of the Deep (1989), and Munchie (1992).
Corman is a real gem, and an indispensable part of American cinema. I don’t really see him as a “B movie King”, even though he was involved in a lot of B movies. So many of his movies felt like they were bigger productions, at least when I was younger. Corman could work magic with extreme limitations on time and budget.
His Fantastic Four is better than any of the big budget versions to date, despite the low budget SFX. It is a shame it was never released.