The Witching Hour ’17 Night 17: Roger Corman Retrospective

The shadows gather around us once again. Take our hands and wander with us into the darkness where the monsters gather. We’re bringing you 31 horror reviews in October. Whatever you do, don’t let go of our hands lest you find out what truly goes bump in the night.

Even if you have never heard of Roger Corman, if you watch movies you have undoubtedly experienced the impact this man made on modern cinema. A master of B-movies, Corman helped to kickstart the careers of many A-list celebrities in the film industry. Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorcese, Ron Howard, Michael Landon, Francis Ford Coppola and James Cameron are but a few Hollywood big shots who worked with Corman early in their careers. In fact, Corman was one of the few who would give Jack Nicholson work when he was struggling as an actor. Nicholson even broke down in tears when reflecting on Corman:

The irnoc bit about this is that Roger Corman may never have become a film maker. After graduating high school, he enrolled in Stanford University and later enlisted in the United States Navy. After earning a degree in industrial engineering,nCorman landed a job with U.S. Electrical Motors and worked there exactly four days before deciding he was more interested in making movies and quit. He got a job at 20th Century Fox, contributed ideas for a movie that were used but he went uncredited.

After a period of studying English literature at Oxford University, Corman would come back to Hollywood and direct movies, produce them, write them and even act in them on occasion. Partnering with other pioneers in the film industry such as Samuel Arkoff, Corman would specialize in drive-in fare. Much of his work would define exploitation and B level horror films. He kept costs low by working with a lot of new talent and sticking to tight production schedules. One of his earlier movies, 1955’s The Fast and the Furious, told the story of a man wrongly accused of murder and on the run from the police. He kidnaps a young woman to use her car to escape and after some rough scrapes the two develop feelings for each other. This plot would be revisited nearly thirty years later with Charlie Sheen starring in The Chase.

Corman’s films may not have impressed critics but they resonated with younger movie-goers – especially young adults who were eager to get out of the house and were more than willing to go to the drive-in. I would love to post some of my favorite science fiction and horror films produced by Corman but I fear I would just be copying his filmography. Considering that he has credits in over 500 films on IMDb and that does not include his uncredited works, that would be a very long list indeed. I would encourage you to check out the list for yourself. If you are a fan of horror movies you will undoubtedly find something worth revisiting.

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