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Overview for Roger Corman
Roger Corman

Roger Corman


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Also Known As: Henry Neill,Roger William Corman Died:
Born: April 5, 1926 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan, USA Profession: Producer ... executive director producer screenwriter distributor literary agent story analyst messenger


i>Alice In Wonderland-like journey that ends in his rebirth at the end. Allegedly, Corman ingested the starring drug in order to get a better sense of what an acid trip was like. He spent the next couple of years juggling both directing and producing duties on "Targets" (1968), Peter Bogdanovich's directorial debut about the 1966 shooting spree by tower sniper Charles Whitman, "Bloody Moma" (1968), which starred Shelley Winters as the real-life crime family matriarch Ma Parker, and "The Dunwich Horror" (1970), which starred Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee, and marked the screenwriting debut of future Oscar-winning director Curtis Hanson. Dissatisfied with increasing interference from longtime distributor American International Pictures, in both the content and budgets of his films, Corman decided to form New World Pictures in 1970 to exert total control over his product. He took the helm on both "Gas-S-S-S!" (1970) and "Von Richthofen and Brown" (1970), though Corman found himself disinterested in directing and decided to step away from sitting behind the camera; a move that lasted well into the 1990s.

Meanwhile, Corman became more involved with helping fledgling directors get a leg up, many of whom went on to direct some of the greatest films in cinema history. After launching Jonathan Demme's career by hiring him to write the pages for "The Hot Box" (1972), he tapped a young Martin Scorsese to direct "Boxcar Bertha" (1972), a Depression-era crime drama about a wayward young woman (Barbara Hershey) and a union organizer (David Carradine) forced by societal and economic pressures into a life of crime. During this time, Corman produced a series of sexploitation films that were full of nudity and violence, but short on story or characterization, including "Tender Loving Care" (1972), "The Student Teachers" (1973) and "The Young Nurses" (1973). Continuing to operate the unofficially named Corman Film School, the producer allowed Curtis Hanson to make his feature debut as a director with "Sweet Kill" (1973), while Demme followed suit with his take on the girls-in-prison genre, "Caged Heat" (1974). Following "Candy Stripe Nurses" (1974), "Crazy Moma" (1975), starring Cloris Leachman, and a cameo appearance in "The Godfather II" (1974), Corman spearheaded another quality sci-fi actioner, "Death Race 2000" (1975), a futuristic satire about a national road rally whose winner is the driver who runs over the most pedestrians.

Corman maintained a steady output throughout the decade, churning out car chase flicks and crime thrillers like "Cannonball" (1976), "Jackson County Jail" (1976), starring Tommy Lee Jones, and "Grand Theft Auto" (1977), which marked Ron Howard's directing debut. He next produced the horror spoof, "Piranha" (1978), the second feature from future Steven Spielberg protégé, Joe Dante, and the first penned by acclaimed writer-director John Sayles. After producing and appearing in his own documentary, "Roger Corman: Hollywood's Wild Angel" (1978), Corman produced some of his more lasting titles: "Rock 'n' Roll High School" (1979), "The Lady in Red" (1979), and "Battle Beyond the Stars" (1980), one of his biggest hits that again used the writing talents of John Sayles while featuring special effects directed by James Cameron. He struck creative and financial gold with "The Howling" (1981), a groundbreaking werewolf movie that featured stunning special effects makeup while boasting Joe Dante as director and a script written by Sayles. Following "Forbidden World" (1982), "Hell's Angels Forever" (1983) and "Oddballs" (1984), Corman once again demonstrated his acute business acumen when he sold New World Productions - then the largest independent production and distribution company in the U.S. - for $16.5 million in 1983.

Also that year, Corman founded Concorde/New Horizons, a production company that became both successful and prolific in taking full advantage of newer markets like videotapes - and later DVDs - paid television, and foreign sales by releasing cut-rate exploitation films like "Moving Violations" (1985), "Sorority House Massacre" (1986), "Summer Camp Nightmare" (1986) and "Stripped to Kill" (1987), which naturally featured excessive violence and nudity. For the next several years, Corman produced a long series of horror and martial arts flicks that were poor in quality and barely indistinguishable from one another. But as always was the case, the movies were profitable. Of the many titles, there were a few standouts, including "Bloodfist" (1989), which spawned numerous sequels over the years. He also helped revive the stalled career of porn star Traci Lords by casting her for a legit role in the remake of "Not of This Earth" (1988). Then after a two-decade absence, Corman made a surprise return to directing with "Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound" (1990), a time-traveling telling of the classic 19th century story that was a rather inauspicious return to the helm. He continued his producing role with such ham-fisted titles as "In the Heat of Passion" (1991), "Homicidal Impulse" (1992) and "Carnosaur" (1993).

Settling down in his later years, Corman began making appearances as an actor in several high-profile features, including "Silence of the Lambs" (1991) and "Philadelphia" (1993), both of which were directed by his old protégé Jonathan Demme. After an appearance in "Apollo 13" (1995), directed by Ron Howard, Corman began to see his output slow down in the late 1990s - the first time since he began making features 40 years before. In fact, he began turning out films at a normal rate for a producer, making one or two films a year. Following "Black Thunder" (1998) and "Nightfall" (2000), Corman executive produced "Barbarian" (2003), a cheap sword-and-sandal knock-off of "Conan the Barbarian." Of course, he continued to recycle old concepts like he did with sets, producing the umpteenth sequel, "Bloodfist 2050" (2005). In a tip of the cap to filmmaking itself, he tackled the old John Ford classic with "The Searchers 2.0" (2007), a comedy about two actors seeking revenge against a legendary screenwriter.

Just as with prostitutes and politicians, Corman stuck around long enough to earn the respect of Hollywood, a system that had largely ignored the producer throughout much of his career. In 2009, after he spearheaded a web series with Joe Dante called "Splatter," Corman received an Honorary Oscar on Nov. 14, 2009 at the Governors Awards ceremony. While some dismissed the award as undeserving due to his lack of artistry and taste over the years, many sprung to his defense, making the claim that Corman had done considerable service for many great filmmakers by helping them launch their careers. starred Nicholson, Peter Lorre and Borris Karloff. Corman wrapped up his fascination with Poe following adaptations of "The Haunted Place" (1963), "The Masque of the Red Death" (1964) and "The Tomb of Ligeia" (1964); the last of which featured a script written by future Oscar winner Robert Towne. Also during this time, he produced the horror thriller, "Dementia 13" (1963), which was directed by fledgling filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. He returned to producing and directing schlock films with "Beach Ball" (1965), "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet" (1966) and "The Wild Angels" (1966), a biker exploitation film that featured the early work of actors Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern, while also being written and edited by Peter Bogdanovich. Corman next took on the famed gang wars of the 1920s with "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre" (1967), which starred Jason Robarbs as Al Capone, who does battle with rival mob boss, Bugs Moran (Ralph Meeker), on the bloodied streets of Chicago.

Always willing to allow creative talent to experiment, Corman had Nicholson pen the script for "The Trip" (1967), a surrealist psychedelic fantasy about a television commercial director who undergoes an LSD trip, which leads him along an <

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