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 Posted:   Jun 6, 2024 - 7:30 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In SHE GODS OF SHARK REEF, “Chris” (Bill Cord) and “Lee” (Don Durant) are brothers, one good and one bad. Unbeknownst to Chris is the truth of Jim’s nature, and when the two get shipwrecked upon an island inhabited only by women, that truth slowly works its way to the surface. It’s not long before Chris and Lee are facing off against each other, one looking for justice and the other an escape.

Although Roger Corman directed this film, it was produced in 1956 by independent producer Ludwig H. Gerber. Gerber hoped the film would be picked up and released by a major studio, but this did not happen. Eventually, the film was sold to AIP, who released it in 1958.

Corman shot the film in Hawaii, at the Coco Palms Resort, with the thatched huts of the hotel grounds being used as the native village. Corman had available only one shark that he could photograph, but obtained stock footage of other sharks. The film was shot in two weeks for $50,000, back-to-back with Corman’s own production, NAKED PARADISE, which was released in 1957.

The original title of the film was “Shark Reef.” AIP added the “She Gods” part in order to promote the female angle. Ronald Stein’s score has not been released.

 Posted:   Jun 6, 2024 - 11:01 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Roger Corman was not only directing multiple films a year at this time but was the executive producer on many as well. NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST was a 1958 science-fiction horror film about a team of scientists who are stalked by an alien creature, which implants its embryos in an astronaut's body during a space flight. Produced by Corman’s brother Gene Corman, it was one of the first films directed by Bernard L. Kowalski and was written by first-time screenwriter Martin Varno, who was 21 years old.

With a budget of about $68,000, the film was shot over seven days at the Charlie Chaplin Studios, Bronson Canyon, and a television station on Mount Lee in Hollywood. Some rewriting was done as the filming progressed, and director Kowalski called it a collaborative process that involved himself, the Cormans, and the whole crew. Varno, however, said he was not happy with how the filming process went and that the Cormans changed dialogue and story elements without his consultation or permission. He said it reached the point where he called his agent and said, "I am not working for these sons of bitches anymore! I am sick and tired of the whole thing!"

After meeting with the Writers Guild, Varno became a member and filed arbitration papers against the Cormans for not paying him enough. Roger Corman was in the process of editing the film when he received the arbitration notice, and he became so angry he started screaming and throwing things in the cutting room. Varno claims one of the film crew members approached him (Varno) and promised that the Cormans would hire Varno to work on many of their future films if he dropped the matter, but Varno refused.

Varno later filed a second arbitration upon learning that Gene Corman was to receive writing credit for the original story. Varno claimed Corman had nothing to do with the story, and Varno produced a large number of dated notes he claimed proved he wrote it himself. Varno won both arbitration matters. However, Roger Corman refused to pay Varno and, as a result, Corman was not allowed to use Writers Guild of America members on his films. Corman used non-union writers for several years, but he finally agreed to pay Varno when he wanted to use a union writer on one of his pictures. Despite Varno winning in the writing credit matter, Gene Corman was still given on-screen original story credit in NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST. When Varno contacted the distributor, American International Pictures, he was told removing Corman's credit would mean recalling all of the prints and changing them, which would have cost thousands of dollars. Varno agreed to allow it to remain unchanged.

Reviews of the film commented on the "male pregnancy" implications of the plot. As the Variety review stated, "It's finally happened--someone wrote a story about a pregnant man!" Alexander Laszlo’s score for the film has not been released. NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST was featured in the seventh season premiere episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” on February 3, 1996.

 Posted:   Jun 6, 2024 - 4:21 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Roger Corman directed and, with his brother Gene, co-produced I MOBSTER, his second gangster film. Independent film producer Edward L. Alperson brought the screenplay to Corman. Because Gene Corman was able to make a deal with 20th Century Fox to release the film, Corman was given his biggest budget to date, $500,000, to make the picture.

The story was about a poor kid called “Joe Sante” (played by Steve Cochran) who rises to become top mobster and falls again. Sante spills the beans in flashback to the Feds about his rise from local bookies’ collector to drug pusher to crime boss. When he is investigated by the Senate, the mob sends out “Black Frankie Udino” (Robert Strauss) to eliminate him. Lita Milan plays his sweet girlfriend “Teresa Porter,” who loves him even after he has killed her brother “Ernie” (John Brinkley). John Mylong and Celia Lovsky play his nice, bewildered parents, “Mr. and Mrs. Sante.”

Lili St. Cyr, who appears as herself in the film, was a well-known striptease dancer whose "bubble bath" act, in which she emerged from a bath tub nude, is incorporated into the film. The camera cuts away from her nude body to show the reaction of the audience. Gerald Fried’s score was released by Dragon's Domain Records in 2023.

 Posted:   Jun 6, 2024 - 4:25 PM   
 By:   Sir David of Garland   (Member)

Bob you're going to be in here all year if you have to list every film Corman dipped his beak in.

 Posted:   Jun 6, 2024 - 6:48 PM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

Bob you're going to be in here all year if you have to list every film Corman dipped his beak in.

We need a freeze on celebrity deaths so Bob can finish this task!

 Posted:   Jun 6, 2024 - 11:52 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Bob you're going to be in here all year if you have to list every film Corman dipped his beak in.

This may be the only chance I get to write about many of them. Just about everyone else of note that worked on these films is long dead.

 Posted:   Jun 7, 2024 - 1:35 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Tom Pittman stars as “Marv Grant,” a HIGH SCHOOL BIG SHOT who helps a cute, gold-digging girl called “Betty Alexander” (Virginia Aldridge) with her homework. He is smitten, and to get fast money, he turns to planning a heist on a shipping office for a million dollars in cash.

This was the initial release of The Filmgroup, Inc., a production and distribution company headed by Roger Corman. The film was written and directed by Joel Rapp. Tom Pittman died in an automobile crash on 31 October 1958, nine months before the film’s general release in July 1959.

HIGH SCHOOL BIG SHOT was featured in Season 6, Episode 18 of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” broadcast on 10 December 1994. Gerald Fried’s score was released by Monstrous Movie Music in 2014.

 Posted:   Jun 7, 2024 - 1:40 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Ever since the name "Susan Cabot" first appeared here I've been waiting for the one when she "buzzes" about. wink

 Posted:   Jun 7, 2024 - 3:33 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Roger Corman’s second Filmgroup release was another juvenile delinquency film, T-BIRD GANG. The picture played on a double bill with HIGH SCHOOL BIG SHOT. In the film, “Frank Minor” (John Brinkley) watches in horror as his night watchman father is gunned down by a gang of thieves. He vows revenge and infiltrates the gang to bring them down from the inside. When Minor is arrested, he tells his plight to a concerned cop (Coleman Francis), who allows him to be a police informant. It doesn’t take long for the seasoned ringleader of the gang, “Alex Hendricks” (Ed Nelson), to smell a rat.

Richard Harbinger directed this 1959 film. Jazz drummer Shelly Manne made his film scoring debut with the picture, and he and his quintet played the score as well.

 Posted:   Jun 7, 2024 - 11:22 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

After studying theater at Stanford University and film at UCLA, Monte Hellman spent three years acting and directing in summer stock before landing his first gig in film, as the assistant editor on the Richard Boone TV series “Medic.” He quit that job to return to directing plays for a theater company he founded, then accepted an offer from Roger Corman (who had invested in his theater company).

Hellman was introduced to Corman through Hellman’s wife, Barboura Morris, who had previously acted in some of Corman's films. Corman gave Hellman a director's job on the spot. Hellman recalled that "We didn't have a contract or anything. Just a handshake. And Roger's handshake was better than most people's contracts."

Released by Corman’s Filmgroup, Hellman’s first film, BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE, was shot back-to-back with Corman’s SKI TROOP ATTACK in South Dakota, using the same cast, crew, and locations. In BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE, a group of gold thieves pull off a heist and flee into the snowy wilderness, only to be pursued by a horrible, spider-like monster.

Hellman recalled “We had 13 days to shoot, and by noon of the first day we hadn’t gotten a shot because the equipment was all frozen – it was 10 degrees below zero and we couldn’t get anything to run. … Roger Corman, who was the executive producer, was screaming on the phone that if we didn’t get our first day’s quota, he was gonna be on a plane the next day and take over the picture. We managed to get it [working]; the sound was a little bit off-speed but we were able to correct it. It was a movie Roger seemed to be obsessed with and made over and over again; it was his rip-off of KEY LARGO – KEY LARGO with a monster tacked onto it.”

A version of this script, which was itself adapted from NAKED PARADISE (1957), was reworked to provide a more comedic angle in the horror-comedy CREATURE FROM THE HANUTED SEA (1961). Each script was written by Charles B. Griffith.

Special effects maestro Paul Blaisdell claimed in interviews that Roger Corman pleaded with him to design and create the film's monster, but the film's budget was so minuscule, Blaisdell turned him down immediately, saying that Corman didn't even offer him enough money to cover the cost of the materials he would need to build the creature. Blaisdell said he never worked for Roger Corman after that.

The monster in the film was eventually designed and portrayed by actor Chris Robinson. Robinson offered to do the job for free if he received on-screen credit for special effects, and even paid for the materials himself.

According to Hellman, his salary for the picture was only $1,000. Hellman also claimed to have received 2% of the profits - which he said came to $400 over the next five years. Alexander Laszlo provided the film’s unreleased score.

 Posted:   Jun 8, 2024 - 1:34 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

The homeowner next door to the filming site for exterior scenes turned on her sprinklers hoping to force Corman to pay her to turn them off. Her gambit proved unsuccessful when Corman used the free special effect to shoot a rain scene, which worked out better for the film.

Love this!

 Posted:   Jun 8, 2024 - 9:53 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Turning back to directing, Corman helmed THE WASP WOMAN, in which the head of a major cosmetics company (Susan Cabot) experiments on herself with a youth formula made from royal jelly extracted from wasps. But the formula's side effects have deadly consequences.

THE WASP WOMAN marked the final feature film appearance of Susan Cabot. Speaking on her work with Corman, Cabot recalled it as "Totally mad. It was like a European movie," though she stated that Corman was "some kind of maverick... he's very bright and fast-thinking."

The film’s musical score, written by Fred Katz, was originally composed for the film A BUCKET OF BLOOD. According to Mark Thomas McGee, author of Roger Corman: The Best of the Cheap Acts, each time Katz was called upon to write music for Corman, he sold the same score as if it were new music. The score was used in at least six films, including THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA.

THE WASP WOMAN cost $50,000 to produce. The film's theatrical release poster shows a creature with the head of a woman and the body of a wasp, but the Wasp Woman depicted in the film is exactly the opposite of this.

 Posted:   Jun 8, 2024 - 12:03 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Ever since the name "Susan Cabot" first appeared here I've been waiting for the one when she "buzzes" about. wink

Thanks, Bob.

 Posted:   Jun 8, 2024 - 11:48 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Dick Miller had one of his most iconic roles in 1959's A BUCKET OF BLOOD as "Walter Paisley," a dim-witted busboy who finds acclaim as an artist for a plaster-covered dead cat that is mistaken as a skillful statuette. His desire for more praise soon leads to an increasingly deadly series of works.

The film came about when American International Pictures approached Roger Corman to direct another horror film for them but only allotted a $50,000 budget and a five-day shooting schedule. Corman took the challenge, but wasn't interested in directing a traditional horror film, so he and screenwriter Charles B. Griffith came up with the concept of creating a black comedy instead. Corman says that the genesis of the film was an evening he and Griffith "spent drifting around the beatnik coffeehouses, observing the scene, and tossing ideas and reactions back and forth until we had the basic story." The entire film was shot in the requisite five days.

Miller was unhappy with the impact of the low budget on the film. He felt that the film had terrific potential to be a classic, and liked the script and performances, but felt the lack of funding weakened some of the film's best moments. In particular, Miller cited the conclusion of the film, saying that it suffered due to little time or money for makeup effects.

A BUCKET OF BLOOD was the third and final film in which Dick Miller would have the lead role. But he would go on to be credited as "Walter Paisley" or some variation of that name no fewer than 9 more times in his long career.

Fred Katz's scored the film. A BUCKET OF BLOOD grossed $180,000. Corman later said the film "wasn't a huge success, but I think we were ahead of our time because THE RAVEN, which is a triumph, is far less funny. Maybe the film was too modest, filmed in five days on sets that came from a film about youth. The distributors didn't know what to make of a movie that didn't belong to any particular genre. They were always scared of comedy."

 Posted:   Jun 9, 2024 - 11:47 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

A poacher is out in the swamps late one night when he is faced with a ghastly monstrosity, resembling some shapeless, giant octopus. He fires a few shots at it and makes good his escape, but when he gets back to the local bar, he can't convince the regulars that he really has seen something out there. Meanwhile, the bar owner “Dave” (Bruno VeSota) is losing any control over his wife “Liz” (Yvette Vickers), a sultry siren who is growing dissatisfied with her marriage, and has her eyes on the opportunistic “Cal” (Michael Emmet). But soon the ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES will spell doom for them all.

Roger Corman was executive producer of this 1959 horror film, while brother Gene produced, and Bernard L. Kowalski directed. The Cormans tried to coax special effects artist Paul Blaisdell to work for them again and create the leech costumes for the film, but Blaisdell said the effects budget was so minute, it wouldn't even have covered the cost of the materials he would need to make the creature suits. The costumes were eventually designed by actor Ed Nelson and Gene Corman's wife, each contributing ideas. Some sources say the monster suits were constructed from black raincoats that were stitched together, while others say black plastic garbage bags were used.

The film re-used music that Alexander Laszlo had composed for NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST. ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES was featured on Season 4, Episode 6 of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” broadcast on July 18, 1992.

The working title of the film was “The Giant Leeches.” AIP added the words “Attack of” to the onscreen title at the last minute, and decided not spend the money to change the already-printed posters.

 Posted:   Jun 9, 2024 - 12:53 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

That one scared the crap out of me. Pretty sure it was the 4:30 Movie on ABC. eek

Yvette Vickers!

 Posted:   Jun 10, 2024 - 3:30 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Tired of filming in Los Angeles and its environs, Roger Corman took his company to snowy South Dakota to film SKI TROOP ATTACK. Corman also did this because he could hire a crew out of Chicago for lower rates than an L.A. crew. The film is set in 1944, as five American soldiers led by “Lt. Factor” (Michael Forest) are on a reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines in Germany's Hürtgen Forest during World War II. “Sgt. Potter” (Frank Wolff) pushes the Americans into a skirmish with the Germans, much to the annoyance of Lt. Factor, who wants the patrol to be reconnaissance only. Eventually, however, Factor decides to blow up a railroad trestle vital to the Germans.

Corman hired ski teams from Deadwood and Lead High Schools; one played the Germans and one played the Americans. He had to film them on weekends and after school. He cast a German ski instructor to play the head of the German ski troop, but the instructor broke his leg two days before the shoot. Corman decided to play the role himself, having skied occasionally at college; he took a one-day skiing lesson prior to filming. In addition to the live filming, a considerable amount of footage of the "German patrols" in the film was taken from stock footage of World War II. Corman recalled the shoot "as a very tough challenge. It was unbelievably cold and snowed all the time.”

One story says that Corman had his actors positioned for a ski run down a mountain of virgin snow. When he called for action on his bullhorn, however, the sound waves started an avalanche. No one was hurt, but Corman was frustrated by this unplanned event. There was only one thing he could do. Corman raised the bullhorn to his mouth and ordered his crew to "Stop that snow!"

SKI TROOP ATTACK was filmed back-to-back with BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE. Fred Katz provided his score for the 1960 film.

 Posted:   Jun 11, 2024 - 12:15 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

SKI TROOP ATTACK was shown on a double bill with the Filmgroup release BATTLE OF BLOOD ISLAND. This two-person drama found two American GIs as the only survivors of a unit wiped out in a battle with Japanese troops on an isolated island. The two, “Moe” (Richard Devon) and “Ken” (Ron Kennedy), don't like each other, but try to put aside their differences in order to evade the Japanese and survive.

The film was written and directed by Joel Rapp, and had the distinction of the being the first film adapted from the writings of Philip Roth, in this case his short story “Expect the Vandals,” which was published in Esquire magazine, December 1958.

Roger Corman put up $31,129 of the budget, with $14,000 provided by producer Stan Bickman and writer-director Rapp. Fred Katz’s music was used one more time.

 Posted:   Jun 11, 2024 - 6:17 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

American International Pictures had thrived by packaging all their films into double features of monster movies, sci-fi, crime flicks, etc. They also preferred to produce them on the cheap and usually in black & white. That was Roger Corman's instructions going into making THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, but he “convinced them to make one, fifteen-day widescreen color film instead of two, ten-day black & white films.” Corman said there was some resistance to the idea, including from one of the AIP executives who asked Corman "where is the monster in House of Usher?" He told the suit that the house itself was the monster, and they got their greenlight.

Richard Matheson based his screenplay on the 1839 short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe. Roger Corman gave Matheson immense credit for "his ability to expand the story but to stay inside the vision and the mind of Poe." He added that while most writers required multiple rewrites to reach a shooting script, Matheson's screenplays were often ready to go from the first draft with only minor changes.

In the film, “Philip Winthrop” (Mark Damon) travels to the House of Usher, a desolate mansion surrounded by a murky swamp, to see his fiancée “Madeline Usher” (Myrna Fahey). Madeline's brother “Roderick” (Vincent Price) opposes Philip's intentions, telling the young man that the Usher family is afflicted by a cursed bloodline, which has driven all their ancestors to madness and even affected the mansion itself, causing the surrounding countryside to become desolate.

In Poe's story, Philip is not Madeline's fiancé but Roderick's old friend, invited to the house by Roderick. In addition, in the Poe story Philip does not try to escape the mansion, and Roderick is driven to madness after hearing the moans of the buried Madeline.

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER was shot in fifteen days on a budget of $270,000, $50,000 of which went to Price. That was the highest budget American International had allotted any film up to that time. Corman also noted that the success of the film was due in large part to the creativity and ingenuity of production designer Daniel Haller. Haller purchased sets and props from Universal Studios for $2,500 and redressed them to create the Usher mansion.

Corman applied his own ingenuity in shooting the opening sequence, in which Philip rides through a desolate countryside. The sequence was filmed in the Hollywood Hills the day after a devastating fire. In addition, for the film's fiery climax, Corman arranged to burn an old barn that was about to be demolished in Orange County. Two cameramen filmed the nighttime burning. The resultant footage was reused in some of Corman's other Poe films.

After a couple of months editing, the film was ready for composer Les Baxter, who conducted his entire score in a single day on 3 May 1960 at the Samuel Goldwyn Studio. In the film’s end credits, after Baxter's name, the following credit appears: "Album available on American International Records." However, no album was released. In February 2011, Intrada issued the world premiere release of the score from music-only elements in mono. The disc was re-issued in 2014.

Some prints of the film have used the full title, while others have been titled just HOUSE OF USHER. U.S. posters used the shorter title; UK posters used the longer one. The picture was not the usual drive-in fare. Corman found that "This type of picture was far more effective in a hard-top," adding that the action films (bikers and gangsters) "played better in drive-ins." The 1960 film was a hit, grossing $4.1 million.

 Posted:   Jun 12, 2024 - 12:43 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In LAST WOMAN ON EARTH, “Ev” (Betsy Jones-Moreland), her husband “Harold” (Antony Carbone), and their friend “Martin” (Edward Wain) go scuba diving while on vacation in Puerto Rico. When they surface, they find that everyone on the island has died, their bodies littering the streets.

“Edward Wain” was a pseudonym for screenwriter Robert Towne, who made his feature film writing debut with LAST WOMAN ON EARTH and went on to write such seminal films as CHINATOWN (1974), SHAMPOO (1975), and MARATHON MAN (1976). Producer-director Roger Corman stated that Towne's slow writing process compelled him to take the writer on location with him, and the only way to afford the additional expense was to have Towne play one of the main roles. Corman shot CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA (1961) at the same time as LAST WOMAN ON EARTH, and Towne also appeared in that film, again credited as Wain.

The 1960 film was a low-budget rip-off of another film about two men and a woman being the last people on earth—MGM’s THE WORLD, THE FLESH AND THE DEVIL, which had been released a year earlier. Ronald Stein's score for LAST WOMAN ON EARTH was released by Percepto in 2007 as part of their 5-CD box set “Mad, Mod & Macabre - The Ronald Stein Collection.”

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