Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Corman, Roger

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(1926-    ) US movie director, producer, writer and entrepreneur, famed for his ability to create movies to very low budgets and with exceptional speed. One could mock his oeuvre as comprising solely exploitation cheapies, but several of his movies are now regarded as cult classics and numerous of cinema's most hallowed names were given their first break by him: Peter Bogdanovich, Ellen Burstyn, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson and Martin Scorsese, to name just a few. Of RC's huge output – much too huge to list here – a fair deal is of fantasy interest, almost always on the margins of either sf or horror (see Horror Movies). At the same time, his company New World Pictures – which he created after splitting from American International Pictures – was responsible for bringing to the USA various foreign movies (by Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, François Truffaut and others) which more orthodox distributors regarded as "too difficult". In recent years his company New Horizons has been offering young acting and directorial talents opportunities to work alongside mature – often over-mature – cinema notables; the results can be excruciating (and are more often released direct-to-video than theatrically), but the educationist motive must be extolled and sometimes – as with Dracula Rising (1992) (see Dracula Movies) – the results can be pleasing. Another RC production company, Concorde, was founded in the 1990s.

RC's entrance to movies was through co-scripting Highway Dragnet (1954); the mutilation of his screenplay inspired him to take personal control of subsequent movies, and so he produced Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954; vt Monster Maker) and The Fast and the Furious (1954) and directed Five Guns West (1954), the latter a Western. Further directions of fantasy interest include Day the World Ended (1955), It Conquered the World (1956), Swamp Woman (1956), The Undead (1956), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), Not of this Earth (1957), She-Gods of Shark Reef (1957; vt Shark Reef), The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1957; vt The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent; vt Viking Women), The Last Woman on Earth (1960), Out of the Darkness (1958; vt Teenage Caveman), War of the Satellites (1958), A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Wasp Woman (1959), Creature from the Haunted Sea (1960), The Intruder (1961; vt I Hate Your Guts), The Little Shop of Horrors (1961), Tower of London (1962), X – The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963), Gas-s-s-s, or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It (1970) and Frankenstein Unbound (1990; vt Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound) (see Frankenstein Movies). Of more significance was his sequence of movies based loosely on works by Edgar Allan Poe: these were The House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Premature Burial (1961), Tales of Terror (1961), The Raven (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963) – which owed more perhaps to H P Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" (1941) than to Poe – The Masque of the Red Death (1964) and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964; vt The House at the End of the Road; vt Ligeia; vt Last Tomb of Ligeia). More recently he has revisited Poe with The Masque of the Red Death (1989).

The list of movies RC has produced or executive produced is yet more lengthy, but few are of great interest outside Night of the Blood Beast (1958), The Brain Eaters (1958), The Dunwich Horror (1969), Death Race 2000 (1975), Cannonball (1976; vt Carquake), Piranha (1978) and Saturday the 14th Strikes Back (1988); more typical are titles like Naughty Nurses (1973; vt Tender Loving Care). RC has also played bit parts in numerous of his own and some other directors' movies, as in Joe Dante's The Howling (1980). [JG]

Roger William Corman


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.