Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses / Machete Maidens Unleashed
A double feature book / movie review.
Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses
"Roger Corman: King of the B Movie"
by Chris Nashawaty
Machete Maidens Unleashed at IMDB
Crab Monsters is book exclusively about Roger Corman following
his career from his pre-movies engineer student at Stanford to
his Oscar for lifetime achievement. It's a nicely printed coffee
table book written by an Entertainment Weekly author transitioning
from to book author.
For those unfamiliar with Roger Corman, as the book substitle
indicates, he was a director and still produces low budget B movies.
Over the years, the market for these has constantly changed, and
he has changed with it. Originally many went to drive-ins where
Hayes Code / MPAA ratings were not a big concern. Later he
transitioned to straight to video production, and now he does a
lot of movies for cable TV.
Corman has always been very financially stingy with his films. He
has a great record of on-time and on-budget, and finding a way to
make money off a film. That part I knew already.
Reading this, I learned some of his tricks. If it flops with one
title, cut in a few more scenes from somewhere else and release
with a new title. Repeat as needed. He is very formulaic with
scripts and not terribly flexible on that account. Every ten minutes
or so there needs to be some skin or some excitement to wake the
audience up. Not too much profanity, though. He is very flexible
in job roles however. James Cameron was hired off the street to a
minor prop department position and promoted to art director within
a single film. (Corman: "What's this?" Cameron: "It's a spaceship
with tits." Corman: "This is it, that is exactly what I want. You
build it." Film is Battle Beyond The Stars, budget of mil,
released summer 1980 with a box office take of .5mil.)
In keeping with Nashawaty's past, the book is largely a simple
structure, with very little text by Nashawaty. Instead he has tracked
down more than sixty people who worked with Roger Corman, plus the
man himself, to interview. The bulk of the book reads like a large
conversation. On one page you'll have Sylvester Stallone, a couple
of quotes later, Shatner, then Ron Howard, then Marky Ramone, then
James Cameron, then Francis Ford Coppola.
The text is arranged into a few broad chapters and then roughly
chronological within each topic. The extensive original sources
make for interesting reading. Anytime you get bored of one point
of view, there is another. The illustrations are good, using
framegrabs and movie posters mostly, as Corman wasn't one to be
making promotional stills. What the book lacks, and seriously needs,
is an index. What movies are on what pages? And what pages have
which people commenting?
Three girls out of a four girl Student Nurse formula.
The film half of this double feature review is about film making
in the Philippines. Specifically films made for US release. Corman
is one producer doing these, but not the only one. The Philippines
where an excellent location for shooting low budget films in the
1970s and 1980s.
The Marcos military was glad to lend equipment and soldiers as
extras. Extras and stunt men were cheap. Average annual salary
of US00 or US00 to be the guy who falls out a second floor
window. "Hit them, that's what they are being paid for" is the
direction one actor gets during a fight scene. The jungle locations
were also picturesque and made scantily clad women all the more
plausible. And far from the health and safety or union official,
things got done cheaply.
Like the book, this is structured in a chronological format with
extensive interviews, intercut with trailers and film clips. The
film is 88 minutes, but the DVD extras include approximately that
amount of more interviews, plus complete trailers for several films
One interesting thing I learned from this film was about Weng Weng,
the midget who starred as a James Bond parody. All the clips shown
are from For Y'ur Height Only, the complete film appears to be
at Internet Archive
or as a
four minute trailer on Youtube.
The Internet seems to have some other complete Weng Weng films, too.
Eight days out of a ten day shoot.
Final thought: has also just watched the Corman produced Ron Howard Grand Theft Auto