Five essential films from producer Roger Corman you should check out

A man in a red sweater wearing a scarf assesses a carnivorous plant.
Jonathan Haze in Roger Corman’s 1960 film “The Little Shop of Horrors.”
(FilmPublicityArchive / United Archives via Getty Images)
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When it came to showmanship on a low budget, Roger Corman was a master. The beloved producer, who died Thursday at his Santa Monica home at the age of 98, became a Hollywood icon for producing a multitude of successful films on a shoestring, which earned him the title “King of the B’s.”

Many of the films also served as training grounds for several prominent filmmakers including Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, Sylvester Stallone and numerous others.

While the list of cult classics and drive-in theater gems could fill a lengthy scroll, the following examples display the magic Corman touch.


1. “Eat My Dust!” (1976): This wild car chase comedy about the son of a sheriff and his girlfriend going for a joy ride in a stolen car was the launchpad for Howard’s career as an award-winning director, proving he was no longer the little boy on “The Andy Griffith Show.” (Prime Video).

2. “The Little Shop of Horrors” (1960). Corman directed this comedy about a hapless florist’s assistant who raises a plant that craves human blood. The cast includes a young Jack Nicholson. The story gained new life decades later as a Broadway musical and a hit film starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin. (The Roku Channel).

Roger Corman, the legendary independent Hollywood producer and director whose long string of profitable low-budget movies such as “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” “The Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Wild Angels” earned him a reputation as the “King of the B’s,” has died.

May 11, 2024

3. “Death Race 2000” (1975). David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone star in this fast-paced sci-fi epic about the Transcontinental Death Race, in which drivers collect points for killing spectators and pedestrians. The tagline: “In the year 2000, hit-and-run driving is no longer a felony. It’s the national sport!” (Tubi).

4. “The Wild Angels” (1966). Corman’s interest in the Hells Angels was the spark for this film, which helped launch the outlaw biker genre. Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd starred in this film about a fictitious motorcycle gang (Prime Video).

5. “Piranha” (1978). After “Jaws,” there was “Piranha.” Corman was the executive producer of this horror film about a mass of flesh-eating piranhas infesting a river. Joe Dante (“Gremlins”) directed from a screenplay by John Sayles (“Eight Men Out.”) (Roku).

The 11th annual Beyond Fest will celebrate cult icon Roger Corman, welcome directors Guillermo del Toro and Michael Mann, and bring more than 50 genre films to L.A.

Sept. 14, 2023