Five films by indie film pioneer Roger Corman

Why would the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Scientists award an honorary Oscar to Roger Corman, the director of films like ‘Teenage Caveman’ and ‘She Gods of Shark Reef’? Because without that director, it’s entirely possible that blockbusters like “Avatar,” “The Godfather” and “The Silence of the Lambs” might not exist.

The makers of these blockbusters all went to work for Corman, who died on May 9 at the age of 98.

A titan and pioneer of independent cinema, Corman was the first producer to hire the likes of James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme and others to direct low-budget films for his company, American International Pictures. He was also the person responsible for introducing films by international authors such as Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa and François Truffaut to American audiences.

In terms of theme, spirit or inspiration, virtually every film made today has benefited from the hundreds of titles Corman produced during his lifetime. For those interested in getting acquainted with Corman’s extensive filmography, the Banner-Herald has compiled a list of five of his best films and where to watch them. Please note that each film is intended for viewers 17 years or older.

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‘A bucket of blood’ (1959)

This early Corman directorial stars reliable actor Dick Miller as Walter Paisley, a coffee shop worker who unwittingly becomes a serial killer and hides his victims in clay sculptures, making him a hit on the local art scene. If the description doesn’t make it clear, ‘A Bucket of Blood’ is a comedy and can be viewed for free on YouTube, Prime Video, Tubi and several other streaming services.

‘The Tomb of Ligeia’ (1964)

By the time Corman made “The Tomb of Ligeia,” he and horror legend Vincent Price had already brought several of author Edgar Allan Poe’s stories to the big screen, and they had the process down to a science. Price is in top form as a widower who suspects that the spirit of his deceased wife is possessing the body of their cat, who hates his new girlfriend. Available on YouTube, Amazon and Roku Channel.

‘The Wild Angels’ (1966)

If you’re going to watch one motorcycle movie, it should probably be “Easy Rider,” but this groundbreaking indie classic probably wouldn’t have been made without Corman, who gave stars Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson their starts. . Starring alongside Bruce Dern, Nancy Sinatra and Diane Ladd, Fonda plays a motorcycle club leader whose friends are about as rowdy and disgusting as they come. Available on YouTube, Prime Video and Roku Channel.

‘The Arena’ (1974)

Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Pam Grier was working as a telephone operator at Corman’s company when she was cast in three women-in-prison films in two years before becoming a superstar with roles in “Coffy” and “Foxy Brown.” .” For ‘The Arena’, Grier traveled to Italy with her ‘Black Mama, White Mama’ co-star Margaret Markov to play ball in ancient Rome. Available on Tubi, PlutoTV and The Roku Channel.

‘Slumber Party Massacre II’ (1987)

In addition to launching the careers of the likes of Cameron and Coppola, Corman was known for hiring female filmmakers at a time when such positions were typically given to men. The ‘Slumber Party Massacre’ films were all written and directed by women, and Part II was directed by Deborah Brock, who made this gory comedy about a group of high school students terrorized by a guitar-wielding maniac. Available on Tubi, Prime Video and more.

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