Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses by Chris Nashawaty

Glancing at some of the titles of films that Roger Corman has produced over the six decades that he has been an independent film producer, one might think that the idea of a book celebrating the man might be a little strange, to say the least. Films like Attack of the Crab Monster, The Young Nurses and The Brain Eaters were all made on the cheapest possible budgets and their posters often promised much more than they delivered. Many of them were filmed in a weekend on recycled sets or with footage "borrowed" from other films.

However, if you take a look at some of the actors, directors and producers who have come out of Corman's "school" then you might reconsider his importance and admit that he perhaps deserves the honorary Oscar that he received in 2009. Directors who were given an early career boost creating films for Corman include Ron Howard, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Martin Scorcese and Peter Bogdanovich, while young actors appearing in his films include Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern and Jack Nicholson, who worked with him for a decade. Pair this with the fact that nearly all of Corman's hundreds of films ended up making money and you have a pretty strong argument that he is among the most successful and influential film producers of all time.

Chris Nashawaty's book is an oral history celebration of all things Corman and includes snippets and anecdotes from most of the important Hollywood types who got their start with Corman, as well as many whom you may not have heard of. The book is a fun, chronological journey through his career and includes anecdotes about his production and negotiation style and his willingness to provide young filmmakers with a chance to show what they could do (as long as it fell within a certain budget). This book also points out Corman's willingness to hire women as directors, in an industry in which they were often shunned.

Don't let description above lead you into thinking that this is a dry book since it's actually a breezy look at the drive-in/straight to VHS/Syfy channel fare that Corman and colleagues have been pumping out through the years. It has glorious poster reproductions and film stills and is a quick read that you won't want to put down. Kudos to author Nashawaty for taking Corman's career seriously...but not TOO seriously.

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