Roger Corman Tribute

We pay tribute to legendary filmmaker Roger Corman and celebrate the many hours of entertainment he brought to the world

Last Updated on May 31, 2024

98 years walking on this earth and over 70 of those working in the industry that he and we all love. How do you talk about a man who had his hands in everything and gave us so much? He was an honorary Oscar winner and heavily involved in the Academy itself. He gave us New Concorde and New World Pictures. Roger Corman was a master of the independent and low budget film and known lovingly as the King of Cult. He gave countless actors, writers, and directors their start and was still making appearances right up to his passing. Theres so much to go over but I think that the best way to honor the man is to bring this video in on time and underbudget, bonus Corman points if we can re-use some of the footage from this one in another one of our videos. I cant see a more fitting way to honor the man who would do just the same.

We are going to break Corman down into three main categories. Our favorite movies he produced, our favorite movies he wrote or directed, and our favorite on screen appearances, starting with that last one because the man wasn’t known as an actor. While he was never and would never be the star attraction, he did enjoy showing up in some of the movies by directors that got their start with him. Some of the best of these include his appearance as a Senator in The Godfather Part II, his unforgettable turn as Man in Phone Booth for The Howling, and as FBI Director Hayden Burke in The Silence of the Lambs. Joe Dante, Francis Ford Coppola, and Jonathan Demme have had huge careers, but John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and Ron Howard have also used the Pope of Pop Cinema in their movies. Corman has also worked with the likes of Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich, James Cameron, Robert De Niro, William Shatner… the list goes on and on. As a distributor, he helped bring the films of Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, and Akira Kurosawa to America.

As a producer, he is unmatched in both his output and range of what types of movies he put his name on. Horror, sci-fi, comedies, westerns, dramas, and all of the standard genre fare would have movies from Corman to be found but he had so many others. You want woman in prison movies? He has you covered. Beatnik horror? He has you covered. Sword and sandal movies? Roger Corman is your guy. He also was a fan of movies from all over the world and was instrumental in showcasing powerhouse directors from all over the world. He helped get movies to American audiences from the likes of Kurosawa, Fellini, and Bergman. This was huge for both us as audiences and how foreign movies were marketed in the US.

The Slumber Party Massacre

His biggest contribution as a producer may have been understanding the market and how to capitalize. While he was very good at making low budget movies, he was also very passionate about being successful. He jumped on the sci-fi aliens and western wagons as early as the 50s because those were the movies that were doing well. As horror turned to full color with blood, there was Corman to give us the thrills and chills we wanted and that would be the case all the way through the excessive 80s where his movies would give horror fans the blood, kills, and nudity we were all looking for. When Star Wars was huge, we would get Starcrash and Battle Beyond the Stars. When slashers hit it big, we were gifted The Slumber Party Massacre. When dinosaurs were the big thing in 1993, well, I have a Carnosaur for that and the list goes on. The man had nearly 500 producing credits in his career and whether or not you knew it, I guarantee you’ve experienced a Roger Corman produced movie at some point in your life.

The final leg of this journey was as a director and while that may be much, much smaller than his role as a producer, it’s no less important. While he stepped behind the camera for all manner of genres like westerns, sex comedies, and gangster films, it was his work with horror and sci-fi that will always stand out when discussing his contribution as a director. He was there the Day the World Ended, or when Crab Monsters attacked. He was the one who was behind It conquering the world and gave us a War of the Satellites. While these are often silly to look at, they have charm for days and can be enjoyed by anyone at any time. Where he lives in the hearts of us horror fans are the collaborations he had with two other masters of horror. Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price.

While he made things like The Terror or his final directorial effort Frankenstein Unbound throughout his career, it was his 8-film run from 1960 to 1964 that almost all starred Vincent Price that have him stand out in our memories. We either watched these as kids on TV with our parents or discovered them as they were put out in various collections on DVD. For many of us, it was an introduction to the people behind them like Price, Poe, Corman or even Karloff and Peter Lorre. They look incredible and are well written, shot, and mostly well-acted. The production of that many quality horror titles from the same team is unheard of and still unmatched today. While we have a resurgence in lower budget horror from multiple companies including things like Shudder or A24, we will never have a run like that again.

Roger Corman was a one of a kind who was as good of a businessman as his movies were varied and fun. I’ll leave you with a quote from the man that shows both a great understanding of the industry and a plea to not let him be the last great independent filmmaker. “The film industry will always exist, but it will no longer be the film industry. It will be digital or possibly virtual reality, or holograms. I think of it as an industry, a business, and an art form. Today, the business end of it has become more powerful than the art form. I think what we need to save it – although it’s making real money and it’s not in real trouble – to reinvigorate it is to remember this is an art form as well as a business. You can’t continually spend $100 or $200 million on a superhero picture. You’ve got to at least let some films come through that are closer to art.”

As I look at the poster of The Terror that one of my best friends got me that hangs above my desk where I do all my writing, all I can think to say is Thank you, Roger. You were a true artist in every sense of the word.

The Masque of the Red Death

Source: Arrow in the Head

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