Roger Corman is a prolific American film director, producer, and actor who has made an enormous contribution to the world of cinema.
Over the course of his long career, he has produced over 400 films and directed over 50, many of which have become cult classics. Here are some of his best films:
These films represent some of the best work of Roger Corman and showcase his unique ability to create innovative and thought-provoking films on a low budget.
They are beloved by fans of cult cinema and continue to inspire filmmakers today.
Best Roger Corman Movies
Let’s take a look at Roger Corman’s best movies.
1. Frankenstein Unbound (1990)
“Frankenstein Unbound” is a science fiction film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1990. It is based on the novel of the same name by Brian Aldiss and stars John Hurt, Bridget Fonda, and Raul Julia.
The film is a loose adaptation of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” but set in the future, where a scientist named Joe Buchanan (John Hurt) accidentally travels back in time to the 19th century and meets Mary Shelley (Bridget Fonda).
He soon discovers that Victor Frankenstein (Raul Julia) has also traveled back in time and is using his knowledge to create a new monster, with disastrous consequences.
“Frankenstein Unbound” received mixed reviews upon release, with some critics praising its ambitious storytelling and others criticizing its uneven pacing and lack of focus.
However, it has since gained a cult following and is appreciated for its unique take on the “Frankenstein” story and its blending of science fiction and horror elements.
The film also features strong performances from its lead actors, particularly John Hurt and Raul Julia, who both deliver nuanced and engaging performances.
Overall, “Frankenstein Unbound” is an interesting and thought-provoking addition to the legacy of Frankenstein adaptations.
2. The Secret Invasion (1964)
“The Secret Invasion” is a war film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1964. The film is set during World War II and follows a group of Allied soldiers, led by Captain Kelly (Stuart Whitman), who are tasked with infiltrating a German-held island in the Mediterranean.
The mission involves teaming up with a group of Italian resistance fighters, including a beautiful woman named Gina (Sylva Koscina), and using their knowledge of the terrain to launch a surprise attack on the enemy.
“The Secret Invasion” received mixed reviews upon release, with some critics praising its action scenes and others criticizing its lack of depth and character development.
However, it remains a noteworthy entry in the war film genre and is notable for its use of location shooting in Italy and the participation of Italian film stars such as Sylva Koscina and Eduardo Ciannelli.
The film also features an exciting score by Hugo Friedhofer and strong performances from its cast, including Stuart Whitman, who delivers a charismatic and engaging performance as the leader of the Allied team.
Overall, “The Secret Invasion” is an entertaining and well-crafted war film that will appeal to fans of the genre.
3. The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
“The Masque of the Red Death” is a horror film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1964.
The film is based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe and stars Vincent Price as Prince Prospero, a wealthy nobleman who retreats to his castle with a group of guests to avoid the deadly “Red Death” plague that is ravaging the countryside.
However, as the guests indulge in a series of decadent and macabre entertainments, they begin to realize that Prince Prospero has his own sinister agenda.
“The Masque of the Red Death” is known for its atmospheric cinematography, moody score, and stylish production design, which creates a vivid and unsettling depiction of the world of the story.
The film also features strong performances from its cast, particularly Vincent Price, who delivers a commanding and charismatic performance as the enigmatic Prince Prospero.
The film is often regarded as one of the best adaptations of Poe’s work and is considered a classic of the horror genre. It is a must-see for fans of gothic horror and lovers of classic cinema.
4. The Raven (1963)
“The Raven” is a horror comedy film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1963. The film is loosely based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe and stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff.
The story follows a magician named Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price), who is mourning the loss of his wife and becomes involved in a series of supernatural events when a mysterious visitor named Dr. Bedlo (Peter Lorre) arrives at his doorstep claiming to have been turned into a raven by the evil sorcerer Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff).
“The Raven” is notable for its blend of horror and comedy elements, with a playful and self-aware tone that pokes fun at the conventions of the horror genre.
The film features strong performances from its cast, particularly Vincent Price, who delivers a charismatic and nuanced portrayal of the grieving magician Erasmus Craven.
The film also features impressive visual effects for its time, including scenes of magical transformations and levitation.
“The Raven” is a must-see for fans of classic horror and is notable for its influential impact on later horror-comedies, such as “Young Frankenstein” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
It is a lighthearted and entertaining film that will appeal to both horror enthusiasts and those who enjoy a good laugh.
5. The Intruder (1962)
“The Intruder” is a drama film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1962. The film is based on the novel by Charles Beaumont and stars William Shatner as Adam Cramer, a racist who arrives in a small Southern town to stir up tensions between the white and black communities.
Cramer’s ultimate goal is to prevent the integration of the town’s public schools, and he uses fear and intimidation tactics to achieve his aims.
“The Intruder” is notable for its controversial subject matter and its unflinching portrayal of racism in America.
The film was released during the height of the Civil Rights movement and was both praised and condemned for its provocative and confrontational approach.
The film is also notable for its use of location shooting in a real Southern town, which adds to its authenticity and sense of realism.
William Shatner delivers a strong and chilling performance as Adam Cramer, a character who is both charismatic and manipulative.
The supporting cast is also excellent, particularly Frank Maxwell and Beverly Lunsford as two white townspeople who become embroiled in Cramer’s schemes.
Overall, “The Intruder” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that remains relevant today in its examination of the persistence of racism and the importance of standing up against hate and bigotry.
6. Machine-Gun Kelly (1958)
“Machine-Gun Kelly” is a crime film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1958. The film stars Charles Bronson as George Kelly, a notorious criminal who becomes a public enemy during the Great Depression era in the United States.
Kelly and his girlfriend, Flo (Susan Cabot), embark on a crime spree that includes bank robberies and kidnappings, but their luck eventually runs out when they are apprehended by law enforcement.
“Machine-Gun Kelly” is notable for its gritty and realistic portrayal of Depression-era crime and the social conditions that gave rise to it.
The film features strong performances from its cast, particularly Charles Bronson, who delivers a nuanced and sympathetic portrayal of Kelly that transcends the typical gangster stereotype.
The film also features impressive action sequences, including a tense bank robbery scene that is expertly staged and choreographed.
Overall, “Machine-Gun Kelly” is a must-see for fans of crime films and classic cinema. It is a raw and powerful depiction of a bygone era that continues to captivate audiences with its potent blend of action, drama, and historical context.
7. War of the Satellites (1958)
“War of the Satellites” is a science fiction film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1958. The film is set in a future where Earth is threatened by a mysterious force that is causing satellites to malfunction and fall from the sky.
A team of scientists led by Dr. Pol Van Ponder (Dick Miller) must race against time to discover the source of the problem and prevent a catastrophic disaster.
“War of the Satellites” is notable for its imaginative premise and its use of practical effects to create a sense of otherworldly danger.
The film also features strong performances from its cast, particularly Dick Miller, who delivers a compelling portrayal of the driven and determined Dr. Van Ponder.
The film also has a sense of urgency and tension that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, as the characters race against time to save the planet.
Overall, “War of the Satellites” is a must-see for fans of classic science fiction and B-movie cinema. It is a fun and thrilling ride that showcases Roger Corman’s skills as a director and his ability to create compelling stories on a low budget.
8. Highway Dragnet (1954)
“Highway Dragnet” is a film noir directed by Nathan Juran and released in 1954. The film stars Richard Conte as Jim Henry, a man who is wrongfully accused of murder and must go on the run to clear his name.
Along the way, he teams up with a young woman named Mrs. Cummings (Joan Bennett), who becomes his ally in the fight to clear his name.
“Highway Dragnet” is notable for its tense and suspenseful storyline, which keeps viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the film.
Richard Conte delivers a strong performance as the sympathetic and resourceful Jim Henry, while Joan Bennett adds depth and nuance to her portrayal of Mrs. Cummings.
The film also features excellent supporting performances from actors such as Wanda Hendrix and Reed Hadley.
Overall, “Highway Dragnet” is a must-see for fans of film noir and classic cinema. It is a gripping and well-crafted thriller that showcases the talents of its cast and crew.
Nathan Juran’s direction is particularly noteworthy, as he creates a sense of tension and danger that permeates every scene of the film.
9. Gas! -Or- It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It. (1970)
“Gas! -Or- It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It.” is a satirical comedy film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1970.
The film is a parody of the counterculture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and centers around a group of young people who band together to stop a corporation from polluting the environment with a dangerous gas.
“Gas!” is notable for its offbeat humor and its irreverent take on the social and political issues of the time.
The film features a talented ensemble cast, including actors such as Robert Corff, Elaine Giftos, and Ben Vereen, who deliver memorable performances that capture the spirit of the era.
The film also features a number of inventive visual gags and satirical jabs at the establishment, making it a must-see for fans of political satire and counterculture cinema.
Overall, “Gas!” is a unique and entertaining film that stands out as one of Roger Corman’s most distinctive and creative works.
Its blend of humor and social commentary make it a fascinating time capsule of an era that continues to resonate with audiences today.
10. Target: Harry (1969)
“Target: Harry” is a crime thriller directed by Roger Corman and released in 1969. The film stars Vic Morrow as Harry Black, a professional hitman who is hired to carry out a high-stakes assassination.
Along the way, he must navigate a dangerous web of double-crosses and betrayals, as various factions attempt to thwart his mission.
“Target: Harry” is notable for its gritty and suspenseful storyline, which is punctuated by a number of intense action sequences.
Vic Morrow delivers a strong performance as the tough and resourceful Harry Black, while Suzanne Pleshette adds depth and nuance to her portrayal of a woman caught up in the dangerous world of organized crime.
The film also features strong supporting performances from actors such as Cesar Romero and Anne Francis.
Overall, “Target: Harry” is a must-see for fans of crime thrillers and classic cinema. It is a well-crafted and suspenseful film that showcases Roger Corman’s skills as a director and his ability to create compelling characters and storylines.
The film is also notable for its memorable score, which adds to the sense of tension and danger that permeates every scene.
11. The Fast and the Furious (1954)
“The Fast and the Furious” is a crime drama directed by John Ireland and released in 1954. The film stars John Ireland as Frank Webster, a man on the run from the law who becomes involved with a young woman named Connie Adair (Dorothy Malone) and her father, a mechanic who builds racing cars.
“The Fast and the Furious” is notable for its exciting and fast-paced racing sequences, which were filmed using real cars and drivers.
The film also features strong performances from John Ireland and Dorothy Malone, who have a palpable chemistry on screen.
The film’s plot is well-crafted and keeps viewers engaged throughout, with plenty of twists and turns as Frank Webster tries to evade the law and clear his name.
Overall, “The Fast and the Furious” is a classic film that has stood the test of time. Its exciting racing sequences and strong performances make it a must-see for fans of classic cinema and car culture. The film has also inspired a long-running franchise of the same name, which has become a cultural phenomenon in its own right.
12. The Haunted Palace (1963)
“The Haunted Palace” is a horror film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1963. The film stars Vincent Price as Charles Dexter Ward, a man who inherits an ancestral mansion in a New England village.
However, the mansion has a dark history, and soon Ward finds himself possessed by the vengeful spirit of his ancestor, Joseph Curwen.
“The Haunted Palace” is notable for its atmospheric cinematography and haunting score, which create a sense of foreboding and unease throughout the film.
Vincent Price delivers a typically strong performance as the tormented Charles Dexter Ward, while the supporting cast, including Debra Paget and Lon Chaney Jr., also deliver memorable turns.
The film is based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and its blend of horror and science fiction themes make it a must-see for fans of the genre.
Roger Corman’s direction is particularly effective in creating a sense of dread and uncertainty, as the film slowly builds towards its chilling climax.
Overall, “The Haunted Palace” is a classic horror film that is well worth watching for its atmospheric visuals, strong performances, and intelligent storytelling. It is a standout entry in Roger Corman’s filmography, and a testament to his skill as a director in the horror genre.
13. X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)
“X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” is a science fiction/horror film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1963. The film stars Ray Milland as Dr. James Xavier, a scientist who develops a serum that allows him to see through solid objects.
However, the serum also has a dangerous side effect, causing Xavier’s vision to become increasingly distorted and hallucinatory.
“X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” is notable for its imaginative premise and groundbreaking special effects, which were cutting-edge for the time.
Ray Milland delivers a strong performance as the increasingly unhinged Dr. Xavier, while the supporting cast, including Diana Van der Vlis and Harold J. Stone, also deliver memorable turns.
The film’s blend of science fiction and horror themes make it a must-see for fans of both genres.
Roger Corman’s direction is particularly effective in creating a sense of unease and disorientation, as Xavier’s vision becomes increasingly distorted and his grip on reality begins to slip away.
Overall, “X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” is a classic film that is well worth watching for its inventive premise, groundbreaking special effects, and strong performances.
It is a standout entry in Roger Corman’s filmography, and a testament to his skill as a director in the science fiction and horror genres.
14. Tales of Terror (1962)
“Tales of Terror” is a horror anthology film directed by Roger Corman and released in 1962. The film is based on three short stories by Edgar Allan Poe: “Morella,” “The Black Cat,” and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.”
The film stars Vincent Price in all three segments, alongside other notable actors such as Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, and Joyce Jameson.
“Tales of Terror” is notable for its macabre atmosphere and witty storytelling, which capture the essence of Poe’s works.
Vincent Price delivers a typically strong performance as the tortured characters at the center of each story, while the supporting cast also delivers memorable turns.
The film’s blend of horror, comedy, and suspense make it a must-see for fans of the genre. Roger Corman’s direction is particularly effective in creating a sense of dread and unease, as the stories unfold in unpredictable and often unsettling ways.
Overall, “Tales of Terror” is a classic horror film that is well worth watching for its clever storytelling, atmospheric visuals, and strong performances.
It is a standout entry in Roger Corman’s filmography, and a testament to his skill as a director in the horror genre.
3 Characteristics of Roger Corman Films
Roger Corman is known for his prolific career as a director and producer, and his films are recognized for several distinctive characteristics. Here are three common traits found in Roger Corman films:
Low budgets: One of the most notable characteristics of Roger Corman films is their low budgets. Corman was famous for making films on shoestring budgets, often reusing sets and props from previous productions.
This forced him to be creative in finding ways to achieve high production values on a limited budget.
Genre blending: Corman’s films often blended multiple genres, such as horror, science fiction, and comedy. This allowed him to create unique and often unpredictable films that appealed to a wide range of audiences.
Social commentary: Many of Corman’s films contained social commentary, often addressing controversial or taboo subjects.
For example, “The Intruder” (1962) addressed racism and integration in the American South, while “The Wild Angels” (1966) explored the counterculture and youth rebellion of the 1960s.
Overall, Roger Corman’s films are characterized by their creativity, resourcefulness, and willingness to tackle provocative and challenging themes. His films continue to be influential in the world of cinema and inspire filmmakers to this day.
3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Roger Corman Films
Here are three reasons why you should watch Roger Corman films:
They are entertaining: Roger Corman’s films are known for being entertaining and often feature exciting action, suspenseful plots, and memorable characters.
Whether you’re a fan of horror, science fiction, or comedy, there’s a Corman film for you.
They are influential: Corman’s films have had a significant impact on the film industry, and many of today’s most successful filmmakers cite him as a major influence.
His use of low budgets, genre blending, and social commentary have helped shape the direction of modern cinema.
They offer a unique perspective: Corman’s films often tackle taboo or controversial subjects, offering a unique perspective on social issues of the time.
For example, “The Intruder” is a powerful commentary on racism and integration in the American South, while “The Wild Angels” offers insight into the counterculture of the 1960s.
Overall, Roger Corman’s films are entertaining, influential, and offer a unique perspective on the world. They are well worth watching for anyone interested in film history, genre cinema, or social commentary.
Best Roger Corman Films – Wrapping Up
In conclusion, Roger Corman has had a significant impact on the film industry, producing and directing over 400 films in his career.
His films are known for their low budgets, genre blending, and social commentary. Some of his best films include “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” and “Bucket of Blood.”
Corman’s influence can still be seen in modern cinema, and his films continue to be entertaining and thought-provoking.
Whether you’re a fan of horror, science fiction, or comedy, there’s a Corman film for everyone. So, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out some of his classic films and see why Roger Corman is considered one of the most important filmmakers of his generation.