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Roger Corman: Metaphysics on a Shoestring
Alain Silver and James Ursini
Silman-James Press, 323 pages

Roger Corman: Metaphysics on a Shoestring
Alain Silver and James Ursini
Alain Silver and James Ursini have jointly authored and/or co-edited David Lean and His Films, What Ever Happened to Robert Aldrich?, More Things Than Are Dreamt Of, The Vampire Film and eight books on the film noir movements, including Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference, Film Noir Style, Film Noir, L.A. Noir, and four volumes of the Film Noir Reader series. Both authors have lectured on film production at UCLA and other universitites and written for such periodicals as Film Quarterly, Film Comment, DGA Magazine, and Cinefantastique.

ISFDB Bibliography: Alain Silver
ISFDB Bibliography: James Ursini

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Maddox

From monster movies to epic pictures, from historical drama to tense thrillers, no man has directed or produced a more varied catalogue of film than Roger Corman. He has built his reputation on being a maverick filmmaker who doesn't play by Hollywood's rules. His decades-spanning career has lead to an incredible cult following and the helpful development of such filmmakers as James Cameron and Jonathan Demme.

Alain Silver and James Ursini have put together an astounding collection of history and interview in Roger Corman: Metaphysics on a Shoestring. The book is much more than just a listing of Corman's many works, in chronicles his development and rich additions to the cinematic world.

Having produced more than 100 movies and directed over 50 of them, each entry contains basic info on the picture, stars and crew. There's detailed running time, budget and distribution house listings as well. But the chronicle stands apart from regular histories with a detailed analysis of each film, finishing with commentary by Corman himself.

Now Corman's work, in some respects, is considered campy and many of his productions are seen as outright bad. Certainly 1959's A Bucket of Blood wasn't up for any Academy Awards and 1957's The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent may have been an excuse to feature a bunch of scantily clad actresses parading around. Such is this reputation that many of his films have been lampooned over the years on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, such as 1958's Teenage Caveman. But the truth is, Corman's films always manage to make money and have established him as a film auteur and prolific artist.

The stories the book tells are both fun and eye opening. For instance, while Corman was filming 1963's The Raven during the day, young protégé Francis Ford Coppola was allowed to use the sets at night for his first major directorial debut, Dementia 13. Corman used many actors before they truly 'hit' on the big screen like Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. He also worked with horror film greats like Vincent Price and Peter Lorre.

The collection is really a celebration of cinema. The highs and the lows of forging ahead with a vision, whether it's economically profitable or just a good story that has to be told with minimal budget are all presented.

Roger Corman: Metaphysics on a Shoestring is much more than just a collection of films. It's an in-depth look at an entire resume of work that spans every genre imaginable. Any filmmaker, either aspiring or established would be well rewarded by picking up a copy and following Corman on his incredible journey.

Copyright © 2006 David Maddox

David Maddox
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been many things, including Star Trek characters and the Riddler in a Batman stunt show. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University, and has written several articles for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen and giving tours at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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