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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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....


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.

This book, despite being very expensive at amazon, is available for $30 from Midnight Marquee Press.

Next up, it's Beverly Gray's fascinating view at Corman and his films...


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)

Sunset Boulevard

Artistic License

Piranhas and Other Fish Stories

To the Stars

Part 4: The Concorde-New Horizons Years (1983-2000)

Sex, Surprise and Videotape

Going Places


Future Tense

Epilogue-Winding Down (2000- )


Appendix A: Some Distinguished Friends and Alumni of the Roger Corman School of Film

Appendix B: Art Flms

Source Notes



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...


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!



Carl (ILHM) said...

Dont know how I missed this post, but I have updated Amazon accordingly! Would love to hear more about how Corman managed to set up his productions and squeeze in an extra film on the same sets here and there. Will be sure to check these out V!

venoms5 said...

All three of these are must haves for Corman fans. I'm almost done with the newer one. Some great stuff in these, Carl!

Beverly Gray said...

Very cool that you like my book. Carl, I think you will really appreciate my story about how Roger managed to arrange for the filming of "Daddy's Boys" at night on the same sets as "Big Bad Mama II." I was there, and I'll never forget it!

venoms5 said...

Hi, Beverly! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! It would be most appreciated if you ever have time to share some of your Corman experiences not included in your book. I remember taking it with me to visit a friend in New York. I took the bus that particular time and read it the whole way going up and coming back. It made the bus trip bearable!

Beverly Gray said...

Thanks, Venoms5 (you must have a more everyday name too)! So glad my Corman bio improved your bus ride. By the way, the official name of my book really is "Roger Corman: Blood-Sucking Vampires, Flesh-Eating Cockroaches, and Driller Killers" (very tasteful, no?) I'd be happy to share more Corman stories, but would rather wait until around the time that my updated ebook version comes out. Stay in touch!

venoms5 said...

Yes, I do, actually. My name is Brian Bankston. My facebook badge should appear directly across this message to the right of the site. Venoms5 is a handle I've had for years correlating to my fascination with Shaw Brothers movies.

Anyway, I am very excited you are updating the book!

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