He’s kind of the KING of the B Movie and that title he wears well, even up through his producing days today. I think his greatest works were his 8 Edgar Allen Poe films (mostly written by great writer Richard Matheson). This month we’re going to look at four of them: The Raven (1963), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), House of Usher (1960), and finally The Masque of the Red Death (1964).
Corman was also very influential. He directed the first Biker movie: The Wild Angels. He has directed notable actors from William Shatner in one of his earliest appearances (The Intruder) to Jack Nicholson (The Little Shop of Horrors). His production company was responsible for movies like: Women in Cages, Death Race 2000, Rock ‘N Roll High School, Galaxy of Terror, Children of the Corn, and Piranha.
One of his most influential contributions to the film industry had to be the distribution side of his production company which brought in foreign films to mass audiences by Bergman, Trauffat, Fellini, and Kurosawa. In a ten-year stretch, his studio won more Academy Awards for foreign films than ALL the other studios combined!
To date, Corman has produced over 300 movies and directed over 50. Modern viewers may be more familiar with his production of modern B films such as Dinoshark, Sharktopus, and Dinocroc vs. Supergator. Thanks for all the wonderful movies, Mr. Corman!
I have a person relationship with Mr. Tobe Hooper, or at least in my mind I do mainly because I grew up with his films. Like most kids I wasn't even aware that it was the same creative man behind most of my childhood nightmares and a few of my adult ones until way late in the game.
I think I first heard the name Tobe Hooper associated with Poltergeist. I figured any guy Stephen Spielberg would work with had to be cool. That's when I heard people saying things like, "Yeah, he's the Texas Chain Saw Massacre guy" or "He's the guy who did Funhouse" or "Wasn't he the guy who did Eaten Alive!?" So I started taking note of this man and his work. I continued being fan through Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars, Night Terrors and Body Bags. I kind of fell away after The Mangler.
I will always remember watching his version of Salem's Lot when I was 16. I had read the Stephen King book and it had freaked me significantly out, as did Mr. Hooper's film. He gave us an iconic vampire that DIDN'T sparkle in the sun! Watching it again for this blog just reminded me how much I miss David Soul! hehehe
So here's to you, Mr. Hooper. Thanks for the thrills and chills.
The Filmography of Tobe Hooper
· Eggshells (1969)
· The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
· Eaten Alive (1977)
· The Funhouse (1981)
· Poltergeist (1982)
· Lifeforce (1985)
· Invaders from Mars (1986)
· The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
· Spontaneous Combustion (1990)
· I'm Dangerous Tonight (1990)
· Night Terrors (1993)
· Body Bags (1993)
· The Mangler (1995)
· The Apartment Complex (1999)
· Crocodile (2000)
· Toolbox Murders (2004)
· Mortuary (2006)
· Destiny Express Redux (2009)
· Djinn (2013)
· Salem's Lot (1979)
· The Equalizer (1987)
· Freddy's Nightmares: "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (1988)
· Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories (1991)
· Tales from the Crypt: Dead Wait (1991)
· Nowhere Man (1995)
· Dark Skies (1997)
· Taken (2002)
· Dance of the Dead (Masters of Horror) (2005)
· The Damned Thing (Masters of Horror) (2006)
James Whale was an oddity in Hollywood among a lot of odd people. His began an interest in theatre while in a German POW camp. He worked his way through London and eventually he made it to Broadway. Once there, the allure of film soon called him to Hollywood where he started racking up lots of credit as a director of Horror films. He was one of the few directors of the time that was given total control of his films…for a while.
He was always eccentric, which works in your favor in Hollywood, but he was also openly gay at a time when that tended to under producers. His all-male pool parties became notorious. He eventually he committed suicide by drowning himself in his pool in 1957. His fear of water was quiet well known, and his lover hide the suicide note from the public until close to his own death. That way Whales death remained a mystery for years.
Whale directed more than just horror films, and it bothered him that his horror films were what he was known for even though he directed the musical Showboat and Waterloo Bridge. But he will always be known for his horror films. Frankenstein alone grossed over 12 million during its first release. His film The Old Dark House in 1932 is credited with creating the whole “Dark House” sub-genre. His next big hit, though not his next film, was The Invisible Man in 1933. Author H.G. Wells himself had approved the script. It was a huge hit due to Whales blend of humor as well as horror and special effects. It was becoming obvious that Whales knew what he was doing.
It was in 1935, however, that Whales delivered what many feel to be his masterpiece: The Bride of Frankenstein. He had no desire to do a sequel to Frankenstein, though there was that part in the original Mary Shelley novel where the monster told Frankenstein that he would leave society alone if he made him a mate, and that intrigued Whale. So he made the film and it was a big ‘ole whopping, stinking hit.
So here’s to a man who was brave enough to be himself at a time when other’s saw that lifestyle as monstrous; a man who when he had had enough and did something about; a man whose creativity can be seen in every frame of film. Thanks for the movies, Mr. Whale.
Roman Polanski’s name still stirs up controversy, but no matter how you feel about the man or his personal history…he is one hell of an international filmmaker. His films have been both influential as well as inspirational for generations of other directors. Many may not know that his very first full-length feature film, Knife in the Water (1962) was nominated for an Academy Award for best Foreign Film but lost to that Fellini flick 8½ . He has since gotten five more nominations and one win. Another incidental bit of trivia is that he is a holocaust survivor.
His name doesn’t always come up when fans talk about the horror genre. Sure they may know about Rosemary’s Baby, but that’s about it. I have included his Apartment Trilogy (of which Rosemary is one of the three along with Repulsion and The Tenant). The last flick I included is, to me, a hysterical vampire film called The Fearless Vampire Hunters.
Younger generations probably haven’t even heard of Polanski much less his connection to the Manson Family Murders, the loss of his wife Sharon Tate and their unborn child, or the reason he doesn’t make films in America any more. I won’t go into all that here because I’ll leave the sensationalism to his movies. Suffice it to say the victim who he confessed to raping has forgiven him publicly as well as accepted his apology and financial settlement. So it’s not my business.
I’m sure he will always be remembered for his direction of Chinatown for which he won the Director Oscar. He’s still directing, however. His most recent films were Carnage and Venus in Furs. Though Polanski’s films are as diverse as one can imagine, I feel he has certainly earned his place here at My Horrible Idea!
John Carpenter probably did more to frighten me as an adolescent than any other film director. Halloween in 1978 scared me so badly that I had to see it again and again. It introduced us to a modern monster names Michael Myers. Who knew then that it would spawn a franchise, not mention a new genre (Slasher Films)? Its budget was $350,000.I remember Donald Pleasence’s fine performance…and of course the now world famous Jamie Lee Curtis who garnered the nickname Scream Queen for her follow-up films The Fog (another Carpenter classic), Prom Night, and Terror Train.
Many of Carpenter’s films were not big hits, but are now seen as influential Cult Classics. I can watch Big Trouble in Little China any day of the week and it still makes me laugh. My favorite Carpenter film though (like picking your favorite Girl Scout cookie) has to be his remake of The Thing (1982). It’s on the list for this month because it’s part of Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy (along with The Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness). The only other one this month I’ve already seen is the Stephen King adaptation of Christine (1983).
Though Carpenter’s star hasn’t shined so brightly recently, I still hold him in high esteem for adding so much creativity to the genre I love. Thanks, Mr. Carpenter.
Some people have nightmares and seek therapy. Others' therapy is putting those nightmares on celluloid and running light through them in order to terrorize as many people eating popcorn as possible. These are the guys I wanna hang out with.
I have dedicated a month to each of the men you see above who have at one time or another in my life have scared me senseless with their creative minds and technical abilities. Anybody can throw blood up on a screen or do a jump cut to a gory zombie face, but these men in one way or another have all raised the craft of frightening people through film to an art form.
I'll discuss each one as their time comes, but suffice it to say they have all given me nightmares...and I think them.
One director each month... one movie each Tuesday. Let the gore begin!