Roger Corman, producer of low-budget horror films, dies aged 98

He was hired as a messenger at 20th Century Fox for $32.50 a week and eventually moved up to story reader. But he wrote in his memoirs: “I knew I was going to be a writer, producer or director of films, and I needed more background knowledge of the 20th century arts.” He enrolled at Oxford University on the GI Bill , to study the works of TS Eliot and DH Lawrence.

After six months in Oxford and six months in Paris, he came home and sold a script about a desert chase to Allied Artists for $3,500. He was so dissatisfied with the finished film Highway Dragnet, directed by Nathan Juran, that he decided to become his own producer.

With the $3,500, a borrowed one-man submarine and $6,500 he raised from a dozen friends, he was almost ready to make “Monster From the Ocean Floor,” a film about a man-eating mutant who brought about by nuclear testing. But he needed another $2,000 and a director. He got both by offering a young actor, Wyott Ordung, the directing job if Mr. Ordung, who also appeared in the film, would put up the final $2,000.

On his first films, Mr. Corman served as producer, came up with the story, drove the equipment truck and was a stunt driver. Knowing nothing about directing but needing another outlet for his energy, he became his own director in 1955 with “Five Guns West.” Over the next 15 years, he directed almost all of the films he produced.

He gained his first taste of respect and favor from European critics with a series of horror films based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe, most of which starred Vincent Price. The series began in 1960 with “House of Usher,” from a screenplay by science fiction author Richard Matheson, and culminated in 1964 with “The Masque of the Red Death,” photographed by Nicolas Roeg, and “The Tomb of Ligeia.” ”

Anna Harden

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