Roger William Corman (born April 5, 1926 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American movie producer and director sometimes known as the "King of the B-Movie". He has directed over 50 movies and produced over 300, every single one of them having been created on time and under budget. Most of them are low-brow exploitation films of various types which have become "classic" examples of So Bad, It's Good and are as far from True Art as it is possible to get; however, one film, A Bucket of Blood, was considered a masterpiece of sorts, and semi-autobiographical.
Corman did have his shining moment of artistic legitimacy when he directed a series of Gothic horrors based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. True, even these eight films — all released between 1960 and 1964, and all but one starring Vincent Price — are noticeably uneven, but the standouts really stand out. These include The Pit and the Pendulum and House of Usher, both featuring legendary performances from Price, and The Haunted Palace, which was the first screen adaptation of an H. P. Lovecraft story (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward), dolled up for the Poe series. Also directed The Little Shop of Horrors in 1960; it was filmed in exactly two days, a world record. Corman made one film, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), for a major studio (20th Century Fox) with a decent budget, but disliked the experience and resumed making low-budget films.
By the mid-'70s, he operated his own studio, New World Pictures, which allowed him to take a dip in the world of hoity-toity art films. He served as the American distributor for Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers, one of the rare foreign films to get an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Other international films that Corman distributed in the U.S. included Volker Schlöndorff's The Tin Drum, Akira Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala, Bergman's Autumn Sonata, Federico Fellini's Amarcord, Alain Resnais's Mon oncle d'Amérique, and François Truffaut's Small Change and The Story of Adèle H. Corman left in 1981 and formed another distribution company, Concorde-New Horizons.note
In addition to his knack for the financial aspects of moviemaking, Roger Corman also has a keen eye for talent. Many famous directors, including Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Joe Dante, and Martin Scorsese, started out directing films that Roger Corman produced. A number of actors — notably Jack Nicholson and Robert Vaughn — also had their start under Corman. And despite his sexploitation films, many women such as Gale Anne Hurd also had their start in the industry thanks to him. Corman realised women would work harder for less money as long as they had the opportunity to use their talents, often denied thanks to the rampant sexism of mainstream Hollywood. In recognition of this, Corman received the Academy Honorary Award in 2009.
Please note that, although he's commonly known as "King of the B-Movies", Corman hates the title. As he insists, he made A-Movies on B-Movie budgets. Oh, and don't bring up Mystery Science Theater 3000 in his presence. Just don't! (During a Jorgenson Guest Filmmaker Lecture at Indiana University, he took a swipe toward MST3K, trenchantly observing that "If you don't have any ability yourself, maybe you can make money by making fun of those who do".)
Filmography on TV Tropes:
- Aladdin and the Adventure of All Time
- Attack of the Crab Monsters
- Attack of the Giant Leeches
- Barbarian Queen
- Battle Beyond the Stars
- Battle Beyond the Sun
- The Big Doll House
- Black Scorpion
- Black Scorpion II: Aftershock
- Bloody Mama
- Boxcar Bertha
- Bram Stoker's Burial of The Rats
- A Bucket of Blood
- Caged Heat
- Caged Heat 3000
- Chopping Mall
- Death Race 2000
- Death Race
- Death Race 2
- Death Race 3: Inferno
- Death Race 2050
- Death Race: Beyond Anarchy
- Deathstalker Series
- Dementia 13
- Down and Dirty Duck
- The Fantastic Four
- Fantastic Planet
- The Fast and the Furious (Not that one.)
- Forbidden World
- Galaxy of Terror
- Godzilla 1985
- The Haunted Palace
- Hell Comes to Frogtown
- House of Usher
- Humanoids from the Deep
- I Believe in Santa Claus (as Here Comes Santa Claus)
- Ilya Muromets
- In the Aftermath: Angels Never Sleep
- The Intruder
- The Little Shop of Horrors
- Lords of the Deep
- The Masque of the Red Death
- Munchies (1987)
- Munchie Strikes Back (1994)
- Night Call Nurses
- Night of the Blood Beast
- The Pit and the Pendulum
- Planet of Storms
- The Premature Burial
- The Raven (1963)
- Rock 'n' Roll High School
- The Slumber Party Massacre
- Sorority House Massacre
- Stripped to Kill
- The Student Nurses
- Swamp Diamonds
- Tales of Terror
- Teenage Caveman
- The Terror
- The Tomb of Ligeia
- Tower of London (1962)
- The Trip (1967)
- The Undead
- The Velvet Vampire
- Viking Women and the Sea Serpent
- The Warrior and the Sorceress
- Warriors of the Wind
- The Wasp Woman
- Wizards of the Lost Kingdom
- The Woman Hunt
- X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes
Corman's movies contain examples of:
- Action Girl: Usually Beverly Garland. Corman was a filmmaker who did not believe in the Neutral Female - he had female protagonists who were tough, intelligent and resourceful. A good example is when Beverly Garland's character in It Conquered the World grabs a shotgun when her idiot husband is mesmerized by the alien, and gives it a memorable "The Reason You Suck" Speech, then growls: "You think you're gonna make a slave of the world... I'll see you in Hell first!" Keep in mind, Garland was delivering this to a walking carrot and made it believable. Heck, she's why it looks like a carrot in the first place. (The original character design was very squat, as Corman and creature designer Paul Blaisdell figured it was from a high-gravity planet. Bev walked up to it, said "So you're gonna conquer the world, huh? Ha!" and kicked it. It was quickly decided that the creature would have to be taller than her. Given the usual time and budget restraints of Corman, this translated to "Give it a big tall conehead.")Beverly Garland: [interviewed] He said, "Well, we figured it comes from a high-gravity planet, so it ought to be built low to the ground." I said, "Not that low!"
- The Bad Guy Wins: Creature From The Haunted Sea. It's one of his favorite endings.Roger Corman: We have always killed off our monsters with fire, electricity, floods, whatever. This time the monster wins. The final shot in this picture is the monster sitting on the chest of gold at the bottom of the ocean floor. The skeletons of all the people in the picture are scattered around him and he's picking his teeth. That's it. The monster wins.
- Black Comedy
- Cat Scare
- Comic-Book Adaptation;
- There were "Dell Movie Classics" based on The Raven, The Tomb of Ligeia, Tales of Terror and The Masque of Red Death.
- Blue Water Productions did a Black Scorpion comic and a four-issue sequel to Battle Beyond The Stars called Battle Amongst The Stars.
- Briefly had his own company in 1995 called Roger Corman's Cosmic Comics that only adapted his movies;
- Welcome to The Little Shop Of Horrors, a three-issue adaptation of the movie.
- A two-issue adaptation of Rock and Roll High School.
- Death Race 2020. A sequel to Death Race 2000 that was cancelled after eight issues.
- A Bram Stoker's Burial Of The Rats comic that came out alongside the movie.
- A one-shot adaptation of Caged Heat 3000.
- Gold Key Comics (a semi-spinoff of Dell Comics) adapted X! The Man With X-Ray Eyes.
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority
- Creator Cameo: Particularly funny in his first film Monster from the Deep, where he plays a jack-of-all-trades boathand who the captain calls "our one man crew."
- Fanservice: Many of his films will have a scene that shows the female lead topless.
- Blatantly obvious in Humanoids from the Deep. He wanted more nudity but the director, Barbara Peeters, refused to shoot it, so he fired her and brought in someone else (in case you were wondering why a movie credited to a female director had so much monster-rape).
- Martin Scorsese recalls that the one piece of advice Corman gave him was "At least once every half hour, there must be nudity or the suggestion thereof."
- Follow the Leader: His films basically take whatever movie subjects are popular at the time, and make them cheaper, funnier, and (sometimes) racier.
- Girls Behind Bars: Corman didn't create the trope, but he did popularize it.
- I Gave My Word: One of the reasons why he's so well remembered by anyone who worked with him. He actually kept any promises he made, something that's incredibly rare in Hollywood.
- Jump Scare
- Line-of-Sight Name: A nurse's union wrote to Corman to complain about one of his films which had an exploitative view of night call nurses. Corman realized he had the title of his next flick.
- The Mockbuster: Did some of these. The most Egregious time was when New World Pictures butchered Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind as Warriors of the Wind and attempted to sell the film as a Star Wars knockoff, complete with an all-new poster that rips off more than just Star Wars.
- That said, the Nausicaa example was done by New World after Corman had left, so people who think he was behind it are blaming him for something he didn't do. (Hell, New World was only responsible for the aforementioned poster; the actual butchering was done by Manson International, New World simply distributed it.)
- Never Trust a Trailer: Or never trust a movie poster, which had the sole purpose of getting people into the Drive-In Theater.
- No Budget: Legendary for this, and is still going at it.Tom Servo: Sorry about the costume. Corman's poodle died and he doesn't like to waste anything.
- Production Posse: Corman had many regulars, including Jonathan Haze, Dick Miller, and Beverly Garland.
- Public Domain Feature Films: Any public domain DVD set is likely to have several of his pre 70s films on them.
- Recurring Element: In his fantasy films. Three Powers of Creation represented by a trio of MacGuffins: A chalice, an amulet, and a sword. The Hero must collect all three from an evil wizard each.
- Recycled Set;
- A Bucket of Blood was filmed on leftover sets from Diary Of a High School Bride and sets Bucket were reused for The Little Shop of Horrors.
- Sets from The Raven were reused for The Terror.
- Red-plica Baron: The 1971 movie, Von Richthofen and Brown, alternatively titled The Red Baron, starred John Phillip Law as Richthofen.
- Screen-to-Stage Adaptation;
- The Little Shop Of Horrors was adapted into the famous Little Shop of Horrors musical in 1982.
- Chicago's Annoyance Theatre made A Bucket Of Blood into a musical in 2009.
- Self-Adaptation: He remade some of his own movies;
- He directed The Wasp Woman in 1960 and produced the 1995 remake.
- He produced Death Race 2000, its remake, Death Race and all of its prequels.
- He was executive producer for the original 1980 Humanoids from The Deep and produced its 1996 remake.
- He directed A Bucket of Blood and produced its 1995 remake.
- He produced Forbidden World and its Dead Space remake.
- Star-Making Role: Launched the career's of many A-List Actors and Directors.
- Stock Footage:
- Some of his early films had to do this to stay within budget. He actually wanted to avoid this in his remake of Tower Of London, but Executive Meddling wouldn't let him.
- Corman also used to buy quality Soviet sci-fi productions, re-edit them with added scenes, dub them in English and he'd have a cheapie sci-fi movie with quality special effects. He'd also reuse effects from more expensive movies like Battle Beyond the Stars.
- Stripperiffic: Mainly his output from the 70s and onward.
- Throw It In: Some of the best moments in his films are this, as he was alright with letting his actors ad-lib as much as they want.