Legendary producer/director Roger Corman
is of course legendary for being a world-renowned cheapskate . . .
He would wrap up a movie a few days ahead of schedule
for instance, and then tell his screenwriter to quickly write a screenplay
for another movie so that he can keep on using the rented sets for those
remaining few days.
Famously Corman once paid Sylvester Stallone’s salary for
Death Race 2000 with T-shirts. Spaceship models
and sets for his most expensive movie,
Battle Beyond the Stars were re-used endlessly in other movies
afterwards; in fact as long as the glue on the models probably lasted! His
1960 Black & White Little Shop of Horrors starring an
as-yet-unknown Jack Nicholson (not to be confused with the 1980s expensive
musical remake) was filmed in two days flat!
Despite being infamously cheap Corman also made some dreadfully bad
movies; something you wouldn’t guess from this selection of descriptive
essays though: authors Alain Silver and James Ursini considers Corman to
be quite a serious film-maker and read all kinds of feminist and religious
symbolism into his movies.
Authors Silver and Ursini make some thoughtful arguments and some of their
statements are confirmed by Corman’s paragraph-long comments that follow
each chapter, but overall it is rather difficult to swallow the concept
that the guy who practically singe-handedly invented the exploitation
B-movie and were only in it for the money had some social statement in
mind while making his movies.
Still, Metaphysics on a Shoestring is so well-argued that I
actually went to the bother of checking out some of the movies discussed
in the book. Sure, they were bad and Silver and Ursini had it wrong, but
making one check out some of Corman’s rotten movies is quite an
accomplishment and attests as to how well-written the book is.
Metaphysics On A Shoestring
by Alain Silver & James Ursini
Paperback: 332 pages
James Press Los Angeles