Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Corman's Shlock Movie Legacy Chronicled in Book

Although several directors churned out lurid, cheap drive in movies in the 50s and 60s no one is more acclaimed in this genre than Roger Corman who is remembered in the new biography “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses ” by Chris Nashawaty.

The advertising posters are far more interesting than many of the actual movies. This is illustrated in the 1957 Corman epic “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” wherein angry, expensive seafood make amends for the nuclear holocaust by murdering scientists stranded on an island.  One of the scientists is Russell Johnson who must have benefited from the tropical life since he recycled the role in “Gilligan’s Island” as the professor.  The lovely Pamela Duncan provides romantic interest for the professor in this Allied Artists film.

In the next decade the posters became more suggestive.  See page 98 for “Angels Hard as They Come” (“big men with throbbing machines and the girls who take them on.”)  The interview with Scott Glenn, leading man in this biker thriller, is worth a read.  On the next page, I enjoyed comments by Bruce Dern on “Bloody Mama,” possibly Corman’s best movie for American International Pictures.  Shelley Winters headlines this 1920s gangster movie that introduced Robert DeNiro, a Winters’ protege.  “Mama” has everything you want in a Corman movie, including gang rape, incest, nudity and gratuitous violence.

Nashawaty speculates that Corman had a vision that resonated with shlock movie fans.  The last half of the book is less interesting because the movies had lost much of their cheap vulgarity.  The book lacks an index and is not organized by chapters so you have to thumb through it to find what you want.

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