When it comes to B-movies, few have done more for the genre than Roger Corman. The legendary independent filmmaker has produced countless cult classics (he has over 400 producer credits on IMDb), from horror flicks like Piranha and Bucket of Blood, to ’80s fantasy epics like the Deathstalker and Barbarian Queen series, to sci-fi masterpieces such as Death Race 2000 and Galaxy of Terror, while also helping to shepherd future Hollywood greats like Martin Scorcese, Francis Ford Coppola, and James Cameron early in their careers. And the 91-year-old is still working, having produced the long-gestating sequel Death Race 2050 earlier this year.
Corman is also still as sharp as can be, as he showed in a recent interview with Syfy Wire (Corman has produced a number of films for Syfy in recent years, including Sharktopus) where he reflected on his legacy. He talks about how European critics saw the appeal of B-movies much earlier than did their American counterparts, and how his eight films based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe — often referred to as his “Poe Cycle” — finally earned him some credibility in the States. Perhaps most notable though is Corman’s reveal of how he feels about being known as the “King of Schlock.”
“I don’t know if I’d say [the nickname is] ‘offensive,’ I’d say ‘unfortunate.’ We tried, and still do, to make the best picture that is possible to make on the genre, for the budget. We never, and I knew people who did this, [like a director] who had an assignment to make a low budget picture and would say, ‘I know this is nonsense but I’m going to toss it off because I need the money.’ Those guys are not in the motion picture business anymore … Whatever we make, we try the best we can. We never say, ‘we’ll knock it off for the money.’ … In the creative process, and I don’t want to be overstating this, we try the best we can every time.”
Even if the bulk of Corman’s work never got much love from critics, no one can deny the man’s passion or the tremendous impact he’s had on the film industry. Take a look at his full interview below, and be thankful that Roger Corman is still making movies in his tenth decade.