Battle Beyond the Movies
May 11, 2024 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Roger Corman has left us. The ‘Movies’ as we knew them wouldn’t have reached their heights without him. He jump/kick-started the careers of Coppola, Nicholson, Cameron, Demme, Scorsese and so, so many more. With his passing it feels as if cinema, as we knew it…and perhaps the analog 20th century has truly passed. He also directed Teenage Caveman.
posted by jettloe (73 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
posted by biogeo at 8:44 PM on May 11

Death Race 2000 remains one of the great American documentaries.

posted by credulous at 8:45 PM on May 11 [23 favorites]


A giant. I love the title of his autobiography: How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:49 PM on May 11 [17 favorites]

posted by Kattullus at 8:51 PM on May 11

posted by Fuchsoid at 8:57 PM on May 11


Among other things, so many great MST3K episodes with his films. I'm a Grimolt warrior!
posted by vrakatar at 9:07 PM on May 11 [11 favorites]

posted by Token Meme at 9:26 PM on May 11

Much more of a Hollywood giant than many will admit.

One of the things that will destroy your life in this town is to decide you're an artist, and subsequently behave as such. Corman had no interest in entertaining that notion. And in the end brought endless hours of entertainment shamelessly, propped up an industry, employed thousands, and created the careers of many more giants. I honestly think his contributions to the craft of moviemaking cannot be overstated.

posted by 2N2222 at 9:26 PM on May 11 [15 favorites]

posted by Sphinx at 9:28 PM on May 11

So many bad movies in all the right ways, some in the wrong ways, and some gems that should last for generations. I salute you sir!

My condolences to his family and friends.

posted by Ignorantsavage at 9:32 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]

The procession to the cemetery will be extremely slow in order to pad out the running time.

But seriously, the year I stopped watching the Oscars was the year they gave Corman an honorary Oscar but didn't let him give a speech, because that proved to me that the Academy Awards didn't care about movies.

posted by dannyboybell at 9:33 PM on May 11 [19 favorites]

Ah, man. I'm in the middle of writing an essay on one of his films. Any one of them might be seen as bad, but the more you see and the more you learn about his career, the clearer it becomes what an important part he played in Hollywood history.
posted by Inkslinger at 9:34 PM on May 11 [7 favorites]

My sister worked for him for several years in the 80s, I think as an editor, although when she moved to New Line Cinema (also dead) she did so as a post production supervisor. When she took the job with Corman, she told us that he had a reputation for working his people to death, but also for being a stepping stone to greatness.
posted by janey47 at 9:38 PM on May 11 [13 favorites]

Roger Corman is how many truly great hollywood careers come about. Plus he was great in his own right no matter what the haters say.

I can do nothing but celebrate Corman and everything he was and everything he fostered in Hollywood. A true Great and I hope he is celebrated as such.

posted by hippybear at 9:38 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]

I met him once, hung out for a while at some film festival after party, had a few drinks. Nobody recognized him except me, which didn't seem to bother him at all. We talked about a lot of stuff pertaining to his career, movies in general. He really loved good movies but realized full well that was not the game he was playing, even if some of his were actually pretty darned okay.

A friend of mine (a filmmaker) likes to say "movies need to get made". I mentioned this to Mr. Corman and he laughed. And then he reminded me, he made a hundred of them in Hollywood and never lost a dime.
posted by philip-random at 9:51 PM on May 11 [13 favorites]

Von Richthofen and Brown (1971)

I brought this one up (being Canadian) and Corman smiled. "Don't tell anyone but I think I may have lost a few dollars on that one. But it's probably my favourite, so worth it."
posted by philip-random at 10:01 PM on May 11 [13 favorites]

posted by lapolla at 10:32 PM on May 11

The end of an era, truly.

I regard Roger Corman as the single most important influence on American filmmaking in the second half of the twentieth century. There's barely any competition, honestly.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:40 PM on May 11 [10 favorites]

posted by mboszko at 11:10 PM on May 11

Tales of Terror had a great scene with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre as a wine connoisseur and a town drunk, who challenges him to a wine tasting competition.

I was the right age (high school) to really enjoy his movies.

Today's AP obituary for Roger Corman mysteriously ends with this statement:

This obituary was written by the late Associated Press reporter Bob Thomas, who died in 2014.

posted by eye of newt at 11:58 PM on May 11 [11 favorites]

As the ringleader of MST Club and watcher of every episode of MST3K at least three times, the jokes on Roger Corman, of course, lie thick on the ground there, despite the fact that they did fewer Roger Corman movies than you'd think, Bert I Gordon, who also recently left us did more MiSTed films.

Yet despite the jokes, it's obvious that the makers of the show have an affection for his work. The failed crowdfunding campaign for Season 14 would have seen them do his wonderfully entertaining Star Wars knockoff Battle Beyond The Stars, with George Peppard as "Cowboy," (in space). I still hope they manage to do it, if the show continues (there is word that it might).

Anyway, 98 is a great run. I'm glad we got to see some of your movies, no matter the context, Mr. Corman. Farewell!
posted by JHarris at 12:08 AM on May 12 [9 favorites]

The Intruder was a serious Corman project (starring Willian Shatner.) It's the only movie Corman lost money making.
posted by CCBC at 12:54 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

Today’s AP obituary for Roger Corman mysteriously ends with this statement

It’s not that mysterious; obits are often written up years before such persons of note actually die, especially if they had a good innings like Corman did.

RIP to the linchpin of modern American cinema.
posted by macdara at 12:56 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]

posted by achrise at 1:59 AM on May 12

Corman's Poe adaptations were wonderful. Vincent Price at his height, gorgeous sets, and a winking campiness under all the lurid plots. Corman at his best could be hilarious. At his worst he made reliably entertaining movies in a few weeks with no budget.

He was one of the greats.
posted by The Manwich Horror at 4:12 AM on May 12 [13 favorites]

posted by eclectist at 4:19 AM on May 12

Anyway, 98 is a great run.

Seen elsewhere: "98... just under budget! What a legend!"
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:20 AM on May 12 [18 favorites]

posted by cupcakeninja at 4:32 AM on May 12

At times like this, you're tempted to say something lofty, like "And so we bid farewell to a titan of cinema." Roger Corman was no titan of cinema. He was a movie man, and a hell of a good one.

How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime

Corman would have been the first to tell you that the title was a lie. He lost boatloads of money. But it's a good title, and if it gets people to buy the book that's what really counts.

posted by Faint of Butt at 5:15 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]

I just finished reading that book last month. Epic life. Epic man. RIP.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:24 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:39 AM on May 12

with his poe adaptations he invented for cinema a new kind of poetry
posted by graywyvern at 6:34 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]

posted by jabo at 6:37 AM on May 12

posted by May Kasahara at 7:06 AM on May 12

I genuinely love The Masque of the Red Death, it's one of my favorite movies. So sad to have a living link to so much history leave our world.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:31 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]

posted by dr_dank at 7:43 AM on May 12

Saw "Battle Beyond The Stars" in theaters as a teenager. Loved it. Kind of don't want to revisit it in case the movie doesn't hold up (and don't tell me if it doesn't).

Nice title reference, by the way. I saw what you did there.
posted by fuzzy.little.sock at 7:48 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]

Battle Beyond the Stars absolutely does hold up because of the performances. I love shit movies where everyone plays it completely straight.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:53 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]

I still occasionally say, when eating something new, “there’s no dog in this,” the one line I remember from BBtS.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:01 AM on May 12

posted by Halloween Jack at 8:05 AM on May 12

posted by AJaffe at 8:06 AM on May 12

posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:13 AM on May 12

Ironically I learned of his passing in the MST3K forever-thon YouTube stream and live chat.

posted by loquacious at 8:22 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

posted by Canageek at 8:27 AM on May 12

posted by condour75 at 8:27 AM on May 12

posted by humbug at 8:34 AM on May 12

Ironically I learned of his passing in the MST3K forever-thon YouTube stream and live chat.

And I should probably explain the ironic part. Whenever one of Corman's films came up on the MST3K live stream that's been going on since last December there's almost always been a discussion that Corman was still alive. So when were talking about him passing at first I thought people were riffing on something.

Yeah, he made some real stinkers, but MST3K wouldn't be the same without him. He has to be the single most riffed director and producer in the MST3K universe.
posted by loquacious at 8:56 AM on May 12

The dirge scene from 'The Wild Angels' should be interwoven with his funeral procession.
posted by Rash at 9:19 AM on May 12

“I don’t know if I would say I’m an artist,” he said in an interview with the Guardian’s Xan Brooks in 2011. “I would say that I’m a craftsman. I attempt to ply my trade in the best possible way. If occasionally something transcends the craft, then that’s wonderful. It doesn’t happen very often.”
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:23 AM on May 12 [11 favorites]


His movies gave me many hours of enjoyment in my youth (Battle Beyond the Stars fans unite!)
posted by gentlyepigrams at 9:57 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

The Masque of the Red Death is one of my favorites too. His unreleased Fantastic Four movie is still better than what a major studio put out in 2015.

posted by lock robster at 10:12 AM on May 12 [8 favorites]

He made some of the movies that were my gateway drugs to becoming a film buff and later getting my dream job of being a film critic. I hope TCM can fit a marathon tribute into their scheduling soon. 🎥 icon.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 10:56 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]

posted by miles per flower at 11:03 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]

Battle Beyond the Stars is one of the greatest retellings of Seven Samurai in cinema history, and I will not be taking questions at this time.

posted by hanov3r at 12:01 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]

I admire his Poe obsession. So many adaptations.

And this bit of inspiration:
The group meet Edgar Allan Poe, who throughout the film drives around on a motorbike with Lenore on the back and a raven on his shoulder, commenting on the action like a Greek chorus.
posted by doctornemo at 1:15 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]

The procession to the cemetery will be extremely slow in order to pad out the running time.

It will also use footage from a previous funeral.
posted by Eikonaut at 2:44 PM on May 12 [13 favorites]

The procession to the cemetery will be extremely slow in order to pad out the running time.

It will also use footage from a previous funeral.

After the San Francisco 1989 earthquake, Roger Corman sent a crew to film the fires that broke out in the Marina district, for possible use in future movies. The man knew how to save a buck.
posted by eye of newt at 3:47 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]

So long, Roger, and thanks for all the fun.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 4:48 PM on May 12

New World Pictures
New World initially made exploitation films such as The Student Nurses and other small-scale productions. Corman helped launch the filmmaking careers of Jonathan Demme (Caged Heat, Crazy Mama), Jonathan Kaplan (White Line Fever), Ron Howard (Grand Theft Auto), Paul Bartel (Death Race 2000) and Joe Dante (Piranha), all of whom made some of their early films as interns for the company.[3] New World also released foreign films from acclaimed directors such as Ingmar Bergman (Cries and Whispers, Autumn Sonata), Federico Fellini (Amarcord) and Akira Kurosawa (Dersu Uzala). The distribution of such films was conceived by Corman in an effort to disassociate New World as an exhibitor of exploitation films.

Unsourced Anecdotes:

Corman was dragged into to a development meeting at New World Pictures, where he said (paraphrase) "I hate meetings; why are we sitting around talking about projects instead of just doing them?"

Also: Corman drove one of the stunt cars in Death Race 2000 down main street early Sunday morning without insurance just to get a few more good shots.
posted by ovvl at 6:07 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]

That Corman/Poe/Price saga is one of the greatest works of art of the 20th century.
posted by ovvl at 6:08 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]

posted by detachd at 6:43 PM on May 12

Just watched the Crab revenge scene on you tube.
posted by Narrative_Historian at 10:54 PM on May 12

posted by Gelatin at 4:13 AM on May 13

The 2011 documentary "Corman's World" is up for free at YouTube; at 36:13 there's a hilarious clip with Peter Bogdanovich telling the story of Corman handing him the reins for a reworking of a Russian scifi flick that was just "men walking around on Venus." When Bogdanovich asked what he was supposed to do with it, Corman replied, "Look at the picture and just decide where to put the women." The next bit about Mamie Van Doren is a hoot.

Bogdanovich described his time on The Wild Angels like this:

He became Corman's all-purpose assistant on The Wild Angels (1966), then found himself directing second unit. "I went from getting the laundry to directing the picture in three weeks. Altogether, I worked 22 weeks – preproduction, shooting, second unit, cutting, dubbing – I haven't learned as much since."

Corman then gave Bogdanovich the chance to direct his own movie, but the catch was he had to use Boris Karloff, and had to come in under budget:

Karloff owed Corman two days of work. So, wanting to thank Bogdanovich for his assistance on The Wild Angels (1966), Corman offered his young apprentice the chance to direct his first movie with those two days of Karloff as its centrepiece. Bogdanovich leapt at the opportunity – and Karloff was so taken with the neophyte, he agreed to stay on for three more.

The result is one of the most prescient and intense movies of the 60s, Targets, based on the infamous 1966 Texas Tower shootings. Karloff plays a dignified old horror movie star getting ready to reluctantly attend a drive-in screening of his old films, while a clean-cut young man gets ready to start murdering innocent people there. It's an incredible debut from Bogdanovich, who in rapid succession went on to make three of the most iconic movies of the 70s - The Last Picture Show,What's Up, Doc? and Paper Moon.

RIP to a brilliant movie maker. And if you want to see what a Corman internship can do for a director, watch or re-watch Targets sometime.
posted by mediareport at 5:27 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]

I have to admit I do feel sorry for the bulk of his directors, who remain anonymous while people just remember the name of the producer. Still, they got real world experience out of it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:59 AM on May 13

The procession to the cemetery will be extremely slow in order to pad out the running time.

It will also use footage from a previous funeral.

The attacking spacecraft will be suspiciously familiar and you might even argue it didn’t need it, but when you have an attacking spacecraft it might as well go in.
posted by Artw at 6:40 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]

Setting money aside, efficiency shows respect for other peoples' time.

For Little Shop of Horrors
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:00 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]

“RIP Roger Corman « Satellite News,”, 13 May 2024
posted by ob1quixote at 1:22 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]

I saw Masque of the Red Death on TV when I was a kid and it terrified me. It's still terrifying today, because now I understand the allegorical nature of the story.
posted by essexjan at 5:28 AM on May 15

ctrl/f "Humanoids From The Deep" gets zero hits, which needs to remedied.

Here's the whole movie and please be WARNED. It's even more appalling than it sounds subject matter wise, but also surprisingly adept in a sordid 80s-b-movie-shamelessly-exploitive sort of way.
posted by philip-random at 8:31 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]

Tonight at MST Club we showed three MST3K episodes with movies directed by Roger Corman, not produced by him, and all of them made in 1956. We watched SWAMP DIAMONDS, IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (with MST Club favorites Lee Van Cleef and Peter Graves) and GUNSLINGER. Beverly Garland was in both Swamp Diamonds and Gunslinger.

It's true, Corman sometimes caught flak from the stranded astronaut and his automated mocking devices, but ultimately I think the staff of the Mystery Science Theater were pretty fond of the old guy, as are we all. It's weird to think he's gone now, like Bert I. Gordon, it seemed he'd be with us forever.
posted by JHarris at 11:40 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]

“5 Great Roger Corman Ripoffs” [14:06]GoodBadFlicks, 20 May 2024
posted by ob1quixote at 9:40 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]

I'm back to thank you guys. I watched "Battle beyond the stars" because of you (I had never heard of it) and it was a hoot. It was worth it just to watch George Peppard overact while Robert Vaughan under-acted. It was worth it for Sam Jaffe! It was worth it just to see all the video-game inspired imagery and all the mammary-inspired imagery in the spaceships (as well as the authentic mammary equipment on the Valkerie alien), demonstrating that Corman knew what his audience wanted. Also worth it for the commentary by Corman and John Sayles! And the soundtrack was great!

I also bought "Targets" and will watch it tonight.
posted by acrasis at 1:32 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]

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