B-movie king Roger Corman passed away at his home on Thursday, May 9, 2024, surrounded by family. He was 98 years old.

Corman directed and produced hundreds of low budget, independent films, specifically horror, science fiction, and action movies. He was behind New World Pictures and Concorde/New Horizons, and is also known for offering early work to film greats Jack Nicholson (Little Shop of Horrors), Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese (Boxcar Bertha), and Francis Ford Coppola (Dementia 13).

Corman was born on April 5, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan, and attended Stanford where he studied industrial engineering. He served in the US Navy for a few years, then briefly started his engineering career, but quickly decided it wasn’t for him. Moving to the film industry, he started as a messenger and worked his way up to story reader, stagehand, and eventually wrote his first script.

In ’54 he wrote Highway Dragnet and produced The Monster from the Ocean Floor. In the second half of the ‘50s, he produced or directed over 30 low budget movies, including Five Guns West, The Day the World Ended, The Gunslinger, Attack of the Crab Monsters, Rock All Night, The Undead, Carnival Rock, and The Wasp Woman. His biggest hits of the period were Machine Gun Kelly, I Mobster, and Little Shop of Horrors.

His next move was to bring the works of Edgar Allan Poe to the big screen with House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Tomb of Ligeia. These movies starred horror icons like Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, and Peter Lorre.

During that period, he gave actress Ellen Burstyn, directors Joe Dante and Peter Bogdanovich, and screenwriter Robert Towne their starts. He directed The Wild Angels, The Trip, Bloody Mama, and Von Richthofen and Brown.

Corman took a break from directing to form New World Pictures, which produced US films and imported international art house movies like Cries and Whispers. His work during this period helped shape how international films could be marketed and distributed in the US.

He produced and distributed Women in Cages, Night Call Nurses, Death Race 2000, The Story of Adele H, Eat My Dust, A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich, Piranha, Battle Beyond the Stars, and Slumber Party Massacre II.

Corman returned to directing in 1990’s Frankenstein Unbound and he published his memoir, Maverick: How I Made 200 Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime. He rebranded his production company as New Concorde in 2000, then formed New Concorde Home Entertainment with a focus on home video releases.

His movies were featured in film festivals and special programming on Showtime, Syfy, and CNH. In 2009, he was awarded an Oscar and was praised for being one of the few producers of the time that hired women, people of color, and older actors in front of and behind the camera.