Monday, May 13th, 2024 7:48 pm.

It feels odd to say you are shocked when speaking of an 98 year old man who just died, but the last time I saw Roger Corman being interviewed by Joe Bob Briggs, he still seemed filled with vim and vigor!

He still seemed like he wanted to make another movie!

I can’t begin explain how important Roger was and is to the movie business. Everyone will focus on the people he gave starts to, who became huge. So, mostly, I just wanna focus on the movies he made, that really meant something to me, growing up.

Yes, growing up, I was a Roger Corman fan. Long before I even started watching MST3K, I knew Roger Corman’s name. (And from what I hear, Roger wasn’t a fan of MST3K, but he should have been, because that’s where a lot of people saw his stuff.)

Believe it or not, I was weird growing up. I had a book about Roger Corman movies and I did a book report on it in high school. (I did a book report about Ed Wood too and one about William Castle. I knew the good/bad movies even before I got a chance to see all of them!)

And I hate doing lists, but I seem to do them a lot lately anyway, so here is my list.


(And I’m a huge fan of 50s and 60s cheese, so a lot of this is his old stuff on my list.)

  1. THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED (1955) This was the first monster movie Roger ever directed. It was about a post apocalyptic world where pretty much everyone is dead, except for a few people who hate each other, holed up in a house. This an example of how Roger would work with one of my fave monster makers, Paul Blaisdell, who made the affectionally dubbed “Marty the Mutant,” (He liked to name his creatures) who menaces the people in the house. When I reached a certain age, I decided to watch this movie on my birthday, because it stars with THE END and ends with THE BEGINNING.  Try that whenever you feel old. It’s inspirational.
  2. IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (1956) Paul Blaisdell already proved himself with Marty the Mutant, but with It Conquered the World he gave us BEULAH!! Possibly the most iconic Corman critter! Beulah is a giant carrot looking thing. Beaulah does conquer the world. Mostly it hides in a cave.  Beverly Garland, Peter Graves and Lee van Cleef are all good in this movie, and are remarkably stoic, while acting against a large vegetable thing.   It was remade in color for TV by Larry Buchannan, as Zontar the Thing From Venus, and if you already don’t like this movie, I wouldn’t recommend watching that one.
  3.  NOT OF THIS EARTH  (1956) This might be my favorite 1950s Corman movie because it was so damn elusive! I  didn’t see it until the internet made it so you could see anything.  There were actually remakes of it (Produced by Roger Corman) but the original was hard to find. It’s the age old story of an alien (Paul  Birch) who comes to earth and poses as an eccentric rich guy, who has to steal blood from earthlings, to resuscitate his dying planet. To assist him in his plot, he has a weird umbrella shaped bat thing that can crush your head. (I don’t think Paul Blaisdell even bothered to name this thing.)
  4. ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS (1956)  Did you know Amelia Earhart was most likely devoured by coconut crabs after she crashed? (That does not happen in this movie, but it’s an interesting factoid you can use to impress your friends with over dinner conversation.) While Amelia might not be in this movie, RUSSELL JOHNSON (The professor from Gilligan’s Island) is! Gilligan’s Island wasn’t infested by giant brain eating crabs who take on the personalities of anyone they kill though. (That would have been an AWESOME episode!)
  5. THE UNDEAD  (1957) A month after Crab Monsters,  Corman, not one to rest on his laurels,  directed and produced the Undead. Now this is an example of a movie I ONLY know from MST3K. I highly recommend that version because the riffing makes it amazing. Otherwise, I’m not sure this confusing tale of a prostitute regressing via hypnosis to her former life as an accused witch in medieval times would have made my top ten list. If you watch the MST3K version, you will find yourself yelling, “STAAAAAAYY!!!” at odd inopportune times. (Watch the episode and you will know why.)
  6. THE SAGA OF THE VIKING WOMEN AND THEIR VOYAGE TO THE WATERS OF THE GREAT SEA SERPENT (1958) This movie was also on MST3K but that’s not why I like it. I like it because it’s got one of the best titles ever. You can probably guess what it’s about. One reviewer raved, “Cheap, even by Roger Corman’s standards.”
  7. TEENAGE CAVEMAN (1958) I’m sick of saying when a movie was on MST3K but four of these movies were, including this one. The “teenage caveman” is played by Robert Vaughn of The Man from U.N.C.L E fame. He is probably about 35 years old when they made this movie.  To be fair, Roger had called the movie Prehistoric World but, because of the huge trend in teenage horror movies at the time, American International Pictures retitled it Teenage Caveman.  So, Roger always had the ultimate out when he talked about that movie. He would say, “I never made a movie named Teenage Caveman.”
  8. A BUCKET OF BLOOD, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS AND CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA (1960-61)  I am running out of slots so I’m going to count Corman’s horror comedy trilogy as one movie. A Bucket of Blood stars veteran character actor Dick Miller (Remember him? He was Mr. Futterman in Gremlins!) as Walter Paisley, the geek busboy at a beatnik coffee house who accidently kills a cat, coats it with plaster and is suddenly the star of the beat scene. But will he turn to people next? Little Shop of Horrors is probably known more nowadays for its re-make with Rick Moranis  (Which was based on the MUSICAL which was based on this movie!) but Roger was the first to show the story of a dweeby flower shop employee who raises a plant who feeds on blood. And Creature from the Haunted Sea is a farce of a heist movie where a goofy looking monster ends up with the loot. (If you’ve ever seen the opening credits of the show Malcolm in the Middle, you have seen a clip of the monster and know how goofy he looks.)
  9.  THE PREMATURE BURIAL(1960) I had to pick at least one movie from Corman’s “Poe Cycle,” where he made a whole lot of movies loosely based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Why did I pick this one when it doesn’t even have Vincent Price in it?  Pretty much because the main character played by Ray Milland has such an insane fear of being buried alive that he makes himself the most incredibly souped up crypt ever! Must be seen to be appreciated, so watch it!
  10. DEATH RACE 2,000 (1975) Corman only produced this movie, he did not direct it (Paul Bartell did) and if I was listing all the movies I love that Corman only produced but didn’t direct, this list would be a LOT longer. I’m not a car buff, so every time I talk to anyone who is, I just bring up this movie. It’s like a live action version of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon Wacky Races (And Wacky Races was already pretty much a cartoon adaption of the 1965 movie The Amazing Race) only Death Race 2,000 had a lot of killing in it. It has been re-made but never surpassed.

Honorable mention goes to the unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four movie.  The rights holders to the Fantastic Four comics had a deal where they had to at least prove they were making a movie so they could retain the property. So, who do you go to when you need a movie made and quick? Roger Corman!

Corman executive produced it, but it was never intended for release. It was a mere myth among us Fantastic Four fans until we got bootlegs of it at comic conventions. The whole thing is on YouTube now. Even though it was never meant to be released, it’s the best Fantastic Four adaption to date! ( There is a documentary about it called Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s the Fantastic Four, which I highly recommend.)

I just assumed Roger Corman would never die, and at least go on executive producing movies for another couple hundred years, but here we are.

Rest in peace, Roger! (Now that I think of it, he probably can’t do that, because he’s probably busy making a series of movies about the afterlife. I’m sure they will come in under budget, and I look forward to seeing them someday!)


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