The 13 Best Roger Corman Movies Streaming Right Now - Living Strong Television Network

There were two Roger Cormans, though they were, ultimately, inseparable: There was the B-movie master, who produced (literally) hundreds of low- and no-budget films: Carnosaur, Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader, Attack of the Giant Leeches, Smokey Bites the Dust, and (no kidding) Hot Car Girl, just to name a few. His 1990 memoir was, very appropriately, titled How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime, the producer/director famously knowing how to squeeze every penny of a movie’s budget: borrowing sets, recycling footage, and putting crew to work doing tasks above and beyond what they were hired for.

That last bit leads us to the other Roger Corman: He was an indispensable figure in American independent filmmaking, who boosted or kickstarted the careers of an impossible number of cinematic luminaries: Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Joe Dante, Jonathan Demme, Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Fonda, Peter Bogdanovich, Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, and even William Shatner. As a distributor of international films, he brought to America movies by directors like Fellini, Truffaut, Kurosawa, and Bergman. Sometimes overlooked, he was also a capable director in his own right in the 1950s and ’60s, creating several movies that stand as classics.

The Stanford and Oxford-educated Corman, who was active right up until the very end of his life, died on May 9 at the age of 98. A statement released by his family read, in part:

When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, ‘I was a filmmaker, just that.’


A Bucket of Blood (1959)

Probably the most memorable of Corman’s early run of films, A Bucket of Blood sounds like it’s going to play as a typical 1950s horror film, but instead serves up a bit of comedy among California beatniks. Brilliant character actor and longtime Corman accomplice Dick Miller (Gremlins) has an incredibly rare starring role here as a busboy at a hipster cafe who becomes a sensation when he accidentally stabs his landlady’s cat while trying to help it escape from behind a wall. A bona fide idiot, he tries to hide the body by covering it in plaster, resulting in an unintentional work of art. When pressured for more artwork, there’s only one thing to do—keep killing. But, you know, people.

Where to stream: Prime Video, Tubi, MGM+, Shudder, Crackle, Freevee


House of Usher (1960)

Only five years into his career, Roger Corman had already directed something like two dozen films, all of them cheap (no surprise there), and most of them fairly forgettable. House of Usher signaled a major shift for Corman and his home base, American International Pictures. The market for the ultra-low-budget black-and-white cheapies that the company had specialized in was drying up, so it was decided to try something a bit bigger: something in color, with a bigger budget and bankable star. The movie cost around $300,000 (compared to his typical budgets, which more in the $50,000 range), one third of which went to a bleached-blonde Vincent Price’s salary. Had it failed, it likely would have sunk the company. Instead, it was a success, and it’s not hard to see why: At any price point, director Corman was a master of style and atmosphere. It’s not quite Poe, but, like Mark Damon’s character Philip Winthrop, it feels like we’ve stumbled into an unnervingly liminal land just this side of our own. Co-star Damon, who became a producer as well, died just a few days after Corman.

Where to stream: Prime Video, Tubi, Freevee (sometimes as The Fall of the House of Usher)


The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Largely overshadowed by the musical that adapted it, the original horror comedy is delightfully brisk—and it damn well ought to be, given that director Corman completed principal photography in two days and a night of shooting. Even with three days of rehearsal beforehand, and some second-unit shooting over a couple of weekends, that’s still just a little over a week from start to finish. The result is a movie that looks cheap, sure, but also one that feels like it doesn’t care, everyone giving their all to feed its chaotic energy and goofiness. “Everyone” here includes a couple of notables: the great Dick Miller, and an impossibly young Jack Nicholson.

Where to stream: Shudder, Tubi, Crackle


The Haunted Palace (1963)

The sixth movie in the Corman-Poe cycle of movies has pretty much nothing to do with Edgar Allen Poe other than the title. Even better, it’s a very faithful adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (probably one of the most faithful films based on Lovecraft ever). Again, the vibes are impressively spooky; we get a cinematic intro to cosmic critters Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth; and Price gives a great double performance. Francis Ford Coppola, then working as an assistant to Corman, provided additional dialogue.

Where to stream: Tubi


X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963)

The great Ray Milland (with some help from Don Rickles) stars here as a scientist who develops a cool new eye drop, one intended to increase the range of human vision. What could possibly go wrong? He tries the drops on himself, and finds his vision expanding far beyond what he’d ever imagined. So why stop there? Continued testing leads to more impressive results, until he finds himself losing the ability to exist in a normal world—and losing his mind. There’s a nearly Lovecraftian feel to the ending, with its suggestion that there are things in the universe that are better left unseen.

Where to stream: Pluto TV, Kanopy


The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Roger Corman directs Vincent Price here in one of their Poe-centric collaborations, this one a standout in its scope and phantasmagoric beauty. The finished product feels far more like an art film than almost any of the producer/director’s other works, and that’s largely down to a couple of things: First, Corman was able to make use of leftover, BAFTA Award-winning sets from the big-budget historical epic Becket, instantly elevating the film’s look into something approaching Powell and Pressburger-levels of onscreen lushness. Second was the presence of cinematographer Nicholas Roeg, later to direct classics such as Walkabout, Don’t Look Now, and The Man Who Fell to Earth, who was here given a fresh start after he’d run afoul of David Lean. The result is a beautiful fever dream like nothing else in the Corman canon.

Where to stream: Pluto TV


The Shooting (1966)

Corman financed and served as uncredited executive producer and consultant on this film directed by Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop) and written by Carole Eastman (Five Easy Pieces). The moody, ruminative revisionist western can’t even be called a flop, because it never even found a distributor initially, but became an arthouse classic in later years, anticipating films like The Wild Bunch and Hellman’s own later, more successful Two-Lane Blacktop. Warren Oates is joined by Jack Nicholson, who also co-produced.

Where to stream: Prime Video, Max, The Criterion Channel, Tubi, Freevee, Crackle, Shout Factory TV


The Wild Angels (1966)

Three full years before the breakthrough film Easy Rider put biker culture well and truly on the map, Corman had already been there, and with Peter Fonda no less, in this film (extremely successful in its own right) about a bunch of bikers out to freak out the squares and find a lost bike. Fonda is joined by a truly impressive cast including Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. Peter Bogdanovich did an uncredited co-write on the finished film.

Where to stream: ScreenPix, or digital rental via Fandango at Home


The Trip (1966)

Very much a counterculture enthusiast by this point, Corman decided that verisimilitude was going to be essential if he were to direct this Jack Nicholson-written story of an LSD trip gone very right. Just prior to shooting, Corman took some friends and crew members out to Big Sur for a weekend acid trip. The finished film brings Corman’s flair for atmosphere to a largely plotless but groovily compelling trip starring Peter Fonda, Susan Strasberg, Bruce Dern, and Dennis Hopper. The tacked-on anti-drug message is oddly unconvincing here. Yet another case of Corman being on the front lines of 1960s cultural trends without quite getting the credit.

Where to stream: Digital rental via Amazon or Apple TV


Targets (1968)

The first film directed by up-and-coming auteur Peter Bogdanovich (with able assistance from the brilliant writer/producer/production designer Polly Platt, credited here only as co-writer) was also among the very last for Boris Karloff, and that’s an awful lot of iconic talent for a movie that began life as a way for Karloff to work off a couple of days he owned Corman. Bogdanovich was given the go-ahead to do pretty much whatever he wanted, providing he didn’t go over budget and included a role for the aging actor. So Karloff plays a version of himself in the form of Byron Orlok, a retiring film actor fed up with the business, feeling maudlin over his descent into camp roles. He’s reluctantly convinced to do an appearance at a drive-in theater showing one of his old movies at the same time that a disturbed gun obsessive kills his whole family and plots a shooting spree. It’s a fascinating commentary on gun culture (even way back when), as well as the contrast between movie horror and things happening in real life, then and now. It’s also a lovely, if appropriately disturbing, send-off for Karloff.

Where to stream: The Criterion Channel


Caged Heat (1974)

I won’t argue that Caged Heat is a masterpiece, but it’s both thoroughly watchable and important as the first film directed by Jonathan Demme, just another legendary talent who got his start under Corman’s wing. The producer was looking for a movie with all of the sleazy appeal of a typical women in-prison movie (i.e. hair-whipping fights and nudity), but relied on Demme to write a screenplay that would offer a bit more heft. The result is a very good example of Corman’s propensity for elevating disreputable material, with the shower scenes balanced by a real sense of common cause among the women as they face off against an abusive warden. The movie also marks the first solo effort for soon-to-be legendary cinematographer Tak Fujimoto.

Where to stream: The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Shout Factory TV


Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979)

Vince Lombardi High School can’t hold on to its assistant principals—the kids are just too damned into rock ‘n’ roll. P. J. Soles is in the lead here as Riff Randell, the leader of the school’s punks; she’s determined to get to see the Ramones, her favorite band, and will literally burn down the school to make it happen. As in the 1960s, Corman was all about kids rebelling against whatever, and pulled in The Ramones to make it work here. The film is entirely anarchic, with no lesson other than “don’t stand between punks and their music.” Corman apprentice Joe Dante (Gremlins) co-developed the story, and directed chunks of the movie (uncredited) when director Allan Arkush got sick, having been given a break directing Piranha the year before.

Where to stream: Peacock, Tubi, Freevee, Freevee, Crackle, Shout Factory TV


Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

Directed by animator Jimmy T. Murakami and written by the multiple-times Oscar-nominated (but not for this) John Sayles (Matewan, Eight Men Out), Battle Beyond the Stars was intended to be something like The Seven Samurai in space. James Horner composed the score, and James Cameron worked on the special effects, while Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn, and John Saxon star. That’s a lot of talent for a movie that definitely does not play like Kurosawa in space, but instead as an incredibly entertaining, if slightly sleazy, space opera. Cameron was originally hired by producer Corman to work on models, but wound up being given responsibility for all of the special effects and production design. He considers the movie to have been his big break so, in addition to being fun, there’s a bit of film history in the making here—and not just in the uterus-shaped spaceships.

Where to stream: Peacock, Tubi, Freevee, Shout Factory TV

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