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Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews: Roger Corman Edition! Blood, Babes, Bikers & Beasts!
For this entry in Cool Ass Cinema Book Reviews (and to coincide with the re-release of many of his best remembered films on DVD), it's a look at a triple feature of Corman tomes. I'll go ahead and state that all three are must own books. One covers the man's filmmaking life and movies from the perspective of someone that worked with him, another is the man's own words and the other is a look at Corman productions exclusive to the years he ran New World Pictures. The latter being the most recent, we'll start there....
MIND WARP! THE FANTASTIC TRUE STORY OF ROGER CORMAN'S NEW WORLD PICTURES
By Christopher T. Koetting (2009)
Softcover; B/W; 280 pages
This simply amazing book that covers all of Corman's movies from New World including movies picked up for distribution by the company is an immersive read. New World was the headquarters for so many hungry up and coming filmmakers of the day. Like AIP, Corman's company unleashed some of the most memorable trash of all time to ever (dis)grace a drive in, or theater screen. This book divulges a lot of details about New World's production slate. However, some movies get more attention than others. Although some films may be a bit neglected, there's still enough trivial notes regarding the making of, and critical reception of the films discussed. The box office results are listed as 'rentals', or the amount the studio gets from the grosses.
From the early WIP hits, to the foreign pick ups, to the car crash smash ups, to the sci fi exploitation, to the gory monster opuses and everything in between, it's all here with a generous selection of B/W pictures. The chapters are as follows...
Foreword by Joe Ritter
Chapter 1: Angels, Demons and Nurses
Chapter 2: Cries, Whispers and Death Races
Chapter 3: Thrills, Chills and Spills
Chapter 4: Hollywood's Wild Angel
Chapter 5: Saints, Humanoids and Galaxies
Chapter 6: Harry, Larry and Larry
New World Filmography
For lovers of exploitation cinema, it's a difficult book to put down. If you're a fan of New World Pictures, than you simply must have this book. Without question, it's one for the shelves.
Next up, it's Beverly Gray's fascinating view at Corman and his films...
ROGER CORMAN: BLOOD-SUCKING VAMPIRES, FLESH EATING COCKROACHES & DRILLER KILLERS--AN UNAUTHORIZED LIFE
By Beverly Gray (2000, 2004)
Softcover; B/W; 320 pages
Beverly Gray worked with Corman for a few years during the 1970's and again in the early 80's when he sold New World and founded Concorde-New Horizons. In her book, she details what it was like to work with the famed fast and furious filmmaker and veritable launch pad for dozens of enterprising talents both in front of, and behind the camera (and sometimes a little of both).
What makes her book so interesting is her view of Corman the man and his seemingly complex personality. She discusses through her own experiences and interviews with many that worked with him, the intimate side of one of the most famous Hollywood personalities. There are many a great story told here. One that immediately comes to mind is the premier of FORBIDDEN WORLD with Corman in attendance and his reaction to the behavior of a patron sitting nearby.
This book covers all the bases and the contents are as follows....
Part 1: The Early Years (1926-47)
A Boy's Life
A Gentleman and a Scholar
Part 2: The American International Pictures Years (1948-70)
One for the Money
Maker of Monsters
The Rise of the House of Corman
Angels and Acid
Part 3: The New World Pictures Years (1970-83)
Piranhas and Other Fish Stories
To the Stars
Part 4: The Concorde-New Horizons Years (1983-2000)
Sex, Surprise and Videotape
Epilogue-Winding Down (2000- )
Appendix A: Some Distinguished Friends and Alumni of the Roger Corman School of Film
Appendix B: Art Flms
Beverly Gray's book is a difficult one to put down and makes for provocative reading for those wishing to get a closer look at Roger Corman from many who worked with him at length. Very entertaining, frequently surprising and uniformly candid, Corman's bio through the eyes of Beverly Gray is definitely one for the shelves.
Finally, we have a book by the one and only, Roger Corman, himself...
HOW I MADE A HUNDRED MOVIES IN HOLLYWOOD AND NEVER LOST A DIME
By Roger Corman with Jim Jerome (1990, 1998)
Softcover; B/W; 239 pages
Where this book differs from the above tome is that here, it's Corman on Corman in his own words. Here, he discusses his directorial efforts and the difficulties of working with very little money. His years as a producer, working with AIP, the many talented people he worked with and employed are also covered. In addition, there are also anecdotes from those that collaborated with Corman over the years. Filmmakers and stars alike such as Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Francis Coppola, Chuck Griffith, Jack Nicholson, Sam Arkoff, Vincent Price, William Shatner, Martin Scorcese and many, many others.
A lot of the same topics and films are covered in Gray's book, but these are told from Corman's perspective and his trials and tribulations in churning out grand and greasy popcorn entertainment to an exploitation hungry, movie going public. It's all here including distro deals with the big studios and even the problems with New World after he sold the company. Highly recommended as are the two tomes reviewed above. Add it to your shelves!
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I've been a huge movie buff since childhood catching old horror and monster flicks on Shock Theater and kung fu movies at the drive-in during the late 70's and early 80's. I've had a long time fascination with, and appreciate all genres of fantastic cinema, good and bad. One fans cheese is another fans juicy steak. I like both equally and seldom find a film I truly dislike as I will find something of interest in just about anything. The bulk of the films or tv series' seen here are mostly from my childhood, or films I own in what has become an Amazing Colossal DVD collection.