Thursday, March 30, 2017
CRAB MONSTERS, TEENAGE CAVEMEN, AND CANDY STRIPE NURSES -- ROGER CORMAN: KING OF THE B MOVIE
This is a huge, heavily illustrated coffee table book that tells all you could possibly want to know about Roger Corman, his production methods, his character, the people he worked with and who got his start from him, and so on. There isn't much film criticism in the book, however, and there is little astute judgment of the Corman product or what made him effective as a director. A number of snappy, well-directed Corman films aren't even covered. Instead of a straight text biography, Crab Monsters is comprised primarily of chapter introductions that provide an overview, and quotes from those who know and have worked with the famous producer/director. Corman was willing to exploit everyone and everything to make a buck and stay in business, and he reinvented himself more than once. Corman first made adroit little movies like Attack of the Crab Monsters and It Conquered the World, then graduated to the impressive color spectacles of the excellent Pit and the Pendulum and Masque of the Red Death, He made a film entitled The Intruder that was close to his heart but didn't make a dime, and didn't direct a picture for twenty years after his disappointment with Von Richthofen and Brown. His last directorial effort, Frankenstein Unbound, was a disappointment to everyone. Along the way he produced dozens of pictures, capitalized on the biker trend, the LSD trend, the women-in-prison trend, and the sexy nurse trend, among others. After starting more than one film production company, and making mostly direct-to-video features, Corman started working with the Syfy channel, churning out dozens of silly, repetitive monster movies. As a director/producer, Corman's legacy is limited to a comparatively small amount of pictures, with much of his output (especially as producer) consisting of -- let's face it -- pretty forgettable movies, but he did give a lot of people a start in the business. Corman has hired more women than anyone else, though it's uncertain if it's because he's a male feminist or because he can get the gals more cheaply, or just recognizes talent when he sees it. Lavishly illustrated, the book is great to look at, and there are a lot of interesting quotes from a variety of individuals. Unfortunately, some information is repeated a little too much, first in the overview, then in the captions, then in the interviews, but all in all this is a praiseworthy show. Corman received a special Oscar for his body of work and his contributions to the industry. He was a talented director and it's too bad that he didn't concentrate on that more in his later years.
Verdict: Corman devotees will love this! ***.