“‘I was shooting Student Teachers for Roger Corman,' recalls Jonathan (White Line Fever) Kaplan, ‘and the script called for wall-to-wall kids. But when I got to the set there were only ten extras. So I called Roger, and he said, “Jon, I once shot the war between Greece and Italy with five men and a bush. Surely you can shoot a high school corridor.” That's real movie magic, and Roger teaches you how to do it.'
“Roger Corman is a brilliant American filmmaker who specializes in cheap, sensational genre films called ‘exploitation pictures,' designed to sell on their subjects, not on their stars or their production values - and according to legend, he shoots faster, cheaper, and with less equipment than anyone else. Also, he turns film school hopefuls (like Coppola, Bogdanovich, Scorsese, Jack Nicholson et al) into star directors. He's been responsible for pioneering a series of profitable genres that include biker films, drug films, women-in-jeopardy films (a genre that finds its apotheosis, such as it is, in Charlie's Angels), car-crash films and more. His films have been shown at New York's Museum of Modern Art, at the Cinematheque Francaise, at the National Film Theatre in London, as well as at the Venice, Berlin and Edinburgh Film Festivals. He is a genuine Hollywood folk hero.
“Born in 1926, Corman graduated from Stanford, studied modern English lit at Oxford, and began directing in 1955 with a series of ultra-low-budget features that brought in phenomenal profits. He had War of the Satellites on drive-in screens three months after Sputnik went up. He made nine full-length features in 1957 alone. And he worked on schedules of 5-10 days, budgets around $50,000. The films he made are legends now - Attack of the Crab Monsters, Sorority Girl, Machine Gun Kelly, Teenage Caveman. Every one of Corman's first 27 features made a profit - most of it for American International Pictures, but some for Corman himself. He moved into the '60s with the stylish and highly profitable Poe series, starting with House of Usher and ending with two of the best horror pictures ever filmed - Masque of the Red Death and Tomb of Ligeia. The budgets were slightly bigger now, and so was Corman's piece of the action. By '66 and '67, when Corman made The Wild Angels and The Trip, he was probably a millionaire.
“In 1971, tired of studio interference with his films, he started his own company, New World. But building the company took time, and Corman has not directed since 1971. Instead, he hired a new set of young filmmakers - Joe Dante, Paul Bartel, Allan Arkush, Jonathan Kaplan; in ten years, New World has become the largest of the mini-majors, producing and distributing both exploitation pictures like Rock 'n' Roll High School and prestigious imports like The Tin Drum.
“Corman's speed alone, and his sense of the marketplace, would make him of interest, but, as a close associate noted recently, ‘God help him, he's an auteur.' In fact, Corman's films leave little doubt; even the fastest and sloppiest of his pictures often project the same running themes and concerns as his best work: a bleak, neo-Freudian vision of the world in which men and women achieve success and become monsters, or see too deeply into the nature of the universe and go mad with horror. Although some of Corman's earliest films were static and talky (talk was cheaper to film than action), many of his low budget pictures exhibit a remarkable cinematic sensibility - despite poor special effects and awful makeup. The early ultra-cheapies are the basis on which Corman's legend rests; for that reason we are including a few of the rarest, early films, along with the generally more successful, and better known, works from his later period.” -- Michael Goodwin