?When it comes to schlock there’s only one king: Roger Corman. After earning a rep as one of the quickest and cheapest directors around, Corman became a producer, espousing his method for making genre flicks to up and coming filmmakers like James Cameron, Joe Dante and plenty of others. With a career boasting 396 credits as a producer, 56 as a director and even 34 as an actor showing up in not just his own movies, but prestigious flicks like Silence of the Lambs and The Godfather Part II, no one can call the man a slacker. He’s even still plying his trade today by producing the internet-friendly Syfy originals Dinoshark, Dinocroc vs. Supergator and Sharktopus.
With such a strong and epic film history to his name, we here at Topless Robot figure it would be a good time to take a look at some of the man’s most awesome and ridiculous movie posters as a way to celebrate Corman’s 56 years in film (and counting). With so many to comb through, we kept the focus on movies he directed under his own name or helped out in uncredited ways. Get ready for a tour through some of the craziest sci-fi, western, horror and biker gang posters of all time. Keep in mind that some of Corman’s best movies won’t make the list because of lackluster posters and vice versa. This one’s all about the art!
20) Frankenstein Unbound
?Aside from a few uncredited assists that you’ll see later in the list, Corman took a nearly 30 year break between directing gigs. He returned with Frankenstein Unbound in 1990 and an interesting, but not stellar poster that doesn’t really hold up to his past. As it is, the one-sheet looks more like a teaser for an over-caffeinated Pixar monster movie than the time-traveling take on Frankenstein it turned out to be.
19) The Oklahoma Woman
?One of four movies Corman directed in 1956, The Oklahoma Woman’s poster stands out for a pair of reasons and we don’t mean boobs. Well, technically, we do. You don’t see a lot of western posters with women whipping men or two women either fighting or making out. And this was in the ’50s! We fully support these elements making a comeback in modern westerns.
18) De Sade
?Corman was originally attached to direct 1969’s De Sade, but bowed out knowing that censors would be a problem given the film’s themes of wild sex and masochism. That didn’t stop it from getting made, of course and the trippy film got a trippy poster that looks like the result of someone taking Moebius to an S&M club and telling him to draw a cat-o’-nine tails.
?Known as both Gas-s-s-s and Gas! – Or – It Became Necessary To Destroy The World In Order To Save It, this 1971 flick features a bunch of hippies trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world (get used to that set up, by the way). The poster takes a rare departure as far as Corman’s ads are concerned in that it simply features a picture of the cast in their wonderfully campy, retro futuristic costumes. The weirdness of the image raises lots of questions like how the heck did that guy in the middle get his hands on a Civil War uniform and why that dude in the back wants to look like Jack the Ripper?
16) Bloody Mama
?Bloody Mama is a pretty shitty movie, even with appearances by Bruce Dern and some kid named Robert De Niro. The most impressive thing this poster does is make the 1970 movie not look awful and also make star Shelley Winters look like a pretty formidable badass. Well played, poster, but we won’t get fooled again.
15) Day the World Ended
?Women in lingerie being chased by big monsters became a regular theme in Corman’s movies, so you’ll see a few examples of that. 1956’s Day the World Ended makes the list because of that rad looking three eyed monster with the horns and extra arms, but doesn’t rank as high as the others because the girl looks kind of jacked up. Who the heck wears green fluffy slippers in a world ravaged by nuclear war?
14) The Trip
?For some reason, the American version of the poster for the LSD-fueled Peter Fonda movie The Trip (1967) was presented in mostly black and white. Luckily, the Italians know how to fix things and added some psychedelic color to the mix as well as an image of Fonda either super high or… being serviced. Or maybe both! Probably both.
13) Wild Angels
?Another Peter Fonda flick, 1966’s Wild Angels also starred Nancy Sinatra and became Corman’s first entry into the then-popular genre of motorcycle gang movies. The resulting poster looks like it should be the cover to the most epic biker gang comic book of all time.
12) The Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes
?You’ve got to love how intrigued and possibly turned on the woman in the Beast with 1,000,000 Eyes! poster looks. Shouldn’t she be a little more terrified of the floating snake/cat/reptile/crab monster head intent on eating her? Maybe the Beast is just what she’s been looking for all these years. Who are we to judge?
10) It Conquered the World
?Okay, THIS is how you do a stellar “lingerie-wearing girl terrified of a monster” poster. The distressed damsel looks genuinely terrified and the monster looks pretty scary. The actual film version of the baddie wound up looking like a reject from the Sid and Marty Krofft workshop, as anyone who saw this 1956 flick end up on Mystery Science Theater 3000 knows.
9) The Last Woman on Earth
?Sex sells, and this artistic representation of ’60s beauty Betsy Jones-Moreland definitely makes us want to see 1960’s The Last Woman on Earth which finds two men and a woman surviving some kind of catastrophic event that makes them think they’re the last trio on Earth. Some lame versions of this poster cover Betsy up with a red dress, but what’s the point? It’s the end of the world, show some skin!
8) The Raven
?Corman put together a series of movies based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe that resulted in lots and lots of posters with floating heads looking down on old timey horrors. 1963’s The Raven kept with that tradition, but made it even cooler by serving up horror legends Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre on pillows in one of the creepier coffins around. Including all those scenes of torture and violence act as icing on this already awesome cake.
7) Not of This Earth
?Okay, sure, the original poster for 1957’s Not of This Earth lacks the hotness of the one for the remake starring former pornstar Traci Lords, but it does take the lady/monster motif and play with the perspective in a way that makes it more artistically interesting.
6) X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes
?The poster for X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963) raises more questions about X than it probably intended. For instance, why is he using his new-found powers to look through women’s bodies to their bones? Better yet, why the heck is he checking out that monkey? That’s weird even for a Roger Corman movie.
5) The Undead
?There’s something very simple and scary about the poster for 1957’s The Undead (one of Corman’s nine movies released that year). The looming skeletal figure plus the tied-up woman create a sense of claustrophobia and looming terror that really draws you in. However, seeing as how the movie itself was lampooned on MST3K’s eighth season, we’re guessing such things can only be said about the poster and not the movie itself.
4) The Haunted Palace
?To give you an idea of how much cooler Italy was in the ’60s than here in the States, the U.S. version of The Haunted Palace’s poster featured those floating heads we mentioned, some scaffolding and a few tiny pieces of violence. The Italian version? Two scantily-clad foxes! And one of them is holding a severed ape head! How could you not want to see that movie?
?Another one of Corman’s uncredited directing roles, 1978’s Deathsport stars David Carradine in a strange post-apocalyptic world filled with motorcycles, dudes without shirts and mysticism. The poster-makers must have really been going for the female audience with that U.S. version as it features a ripped, Conan-esque fella wearing only a loincloth, with a tight butt and a killer motorcycle. Meanwhile, the German poster completely ripped off the Rollerball one-sheet, but made it better by adding more color, a sword, a hot lady and explosions.
2) House of Usher
?The poster for Corman’s 1960 take on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher not only simplifies the title, but creates a real movement with this poster. Scanning from top-down it’s like you’re seeing a little movie right here. You’ve got the establishing shot of a creepy old house, the reveal of a secret passage, some men carrying a coffin down into the earth and then a cut inside the coffin where a very alive young woman realizes the trouble she’s in. Surprisingly well done for a movie house built on simple and easy.
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1) Battle Beyond the Stars
?To be completely honest, Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) was mostly directed by Jimmy T. Murakami with some uncredited help by Roger Corman, and it doesn’t have the single best poster in the bunch. However, it does have no less than three rad posters that earn it the top spot.
?A combination of Seven Samurai and Star Wars, Battle has some incredibly serious — and one very sexy — poster trying to show how supposedly epic the movie was (it wasn’t, even with Corman’s biggest production budget ever and special effects work by a young James Cameron). We’re suckers for posters showing disparate groups of people looking bad ass and ones jam packed with aliens, spaceships and floating heads. But the best one?
?Once again, the Germans with their showcase of the gorgeous Sybil Danning as Saint-Exmin very simply sells the movie, which is the whole point of movie posters.