RIP Roger Corman

Roger¬†Corman, the fabled ‚ÄúKing of the B‚Äôs‚ÄĚ producer and director, giant of independent film making, who churned out low-budget genre films with breakneck speed and provided career boosts to young, untested talents like Jack Nicholson,¬†Ron Howard,¬†Peter¬†Bogdanovich, Martin¬†Scorsese, Francis Ford¬†Coppola, Jonathan¬†Demme, Gale Anne¬†Hurd¬†and¬†James Cameron, has died. He was 98. The filmmaker, who received an honorary Oscar in 2009 at the Governors Awards, died Thursday at his home in Santa Monica, his family told¬†The Hollywood Reporter. He also helped to launch the careers of actors like¬†Peter Fonda,¬†Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd and¬†William Shatner. Corman occasionally acted in films by directors who started with him, including¬†The Godfather Part II¬†(1974), The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia (1993), Apollo 13 (1995) and¬†The Manchurian Candidate (2004).

A documentary about Corman’s life and career titled Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, directed by Alex Stapleton, premiered at the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals in 2011. Corman¬† perhaps is best known for such horror fare as The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and his series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations starring Vincent Price, like The Raven. Roger William¬†Corman¬†was born in Detroit on April 5, 1926, but his family ‚ÄĒ including his late younger brother¬†Gene Corman, who went on to become an agent and produce several movies with him ‚ÄĒ moved to Beverly Hills when he was 14. He served in the U.S. Navy for nearly three years but found when he was discharged that he had lost his taste for engineering. He took a job at¬†20th Century Fox as a messenger and worked his way up to story analyst. Frustrated with that position, he quit and set off for England. He attended Oxford, doing graduate work in English literature.

He delighted in making genre films, beginning with Westerns: Five Guns West (1955) was his first directing credit, and he followed with Apache Woman (1955) and The Oklahoma Woman (1956). He switched to science fiction and horror, blasting out such gobbled fare as Day The World Ended (1956), It Conquered the World (1956), The Undead (1957), Night of the Blood Beast (1958) and She Gods of Shark Reef (1958). Amid the bloodletting, hokey costumes and bizarre plots were bursts of cheeky humor and campy signs of intelligent life, reflecting Corman’s breezy, comic sensibility. His other work included such schlockers as Creature From the Haunted Sea (1960), Battle of Blood Island (1960) and Last Woman on Earth (1960).

1978 as a producer saw his cult film Piranha followed by 3 awesome scifi cult films in the early 80s. Battle Beyond The Stars was 1980’s ¬† futuristic “Magnificent Seven¬†(itself a western version of¬†Seven Samurai) in outer space” that had¬† special effects designed by a young James Cameron. The same year saw Galaxy Of Terror, with Cameron serving as Production Designer and Second Unit Director on the film. 1982 saw Forbidden World which was an Alien ripoff but has it’s own charm. He went on to produced films till 2017. Corman was married to¬†Julie Halloran from 1970 until his death. They had four children.

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