- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2009

Roger Corman, the king of the B movie, will receive an honorary Oscar at this year’s ceremony for his lifetime of work, it was announced recently. Many of the industry’s most accomplished filmmakers — directors such as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese and Peter Bogdanovich, for example — got their start under the master of the no-budget genre picture. In honor of the legend, here are five of our favorite Corman features.

1. Little Shop of Horrors — Starring a young Jack Nicholson in one of his first big screen roles, this adaptation may not have the glitz and glamour of later, campier adaptations, but it does have the heart.

2. Death Race 2000 — Produced by Mr. Corman, this action shocker’s over-the-top ultraviolence has catapulted it to cult-classic status and inspired the inferior 2008 remake of the same name (minus the “2000,” naturally).

3. The Fantastic Four — Arguably the worst superhero movie ever made, “The Fantastic Four” was made by Mr. Corman for slightly less than $2 million. It was never intended to be released (and, indeed, it never has been); instead, it was produced solely to maintain rights to the property. VHS bootlegs circulating at comic-book conventions turned this picture into a legendary piece of cult worship.

4. Piranha — Directed by Joe Dante (“Gremlins”), this “Jaws” “homage” (read: rip-off) was classic Corman: derivative, self-aware, microbudgeted and loving every minute of it.

5. Masque of the Red Death — Arguably the best film Mr. Corman ever made, this classic adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic story starred Vincent Price as an aristocrat who strikes fear into the heart of the underclass with his cruelty.

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