Metaphysics on a Shoestring covers the influential writer/director/producer's career movie-by-movie, from the beginning to the present. This very handsomely bound, oversized paperback is not only hefty in weight but in information.
It's a scholarly look at Corman's career, but it's not an entirely dry tome. It's a great book for fans who are interested in knowing all the facts about each of Corman's movies — the authors list the movies in chronological order, with all the pertinent info including date of release, budget, stars, etc., and even very detailed plot descriptions outlining everything that happens in each movie from beginning to end. As an added bonus, there is a comment from Corman himself at the end of almost every film listing. There are also lots and lots of black and white photos.
Taking a totally different tack is Roger Corman: Blood-Sucking Vampires, Flesh-Eating Cockroaches, and Driller Killers, by former Corman assistant, Beverly Gray. This very well-written, thoroughly researched book is much more personal and entertaining than Metaphysics on a Shoestring – if you're just looking for something fun to read on the "King of the Killer B's" this is your pick. Gray has gotten several revealing quotes from people who've worked with Corman over the years, and many candid photos.
Light and gossipy in tone (Roger Corman is cheap! That's the big revelation! Who knew?) but it is intelligent, affectionate and never snarky, even though Gray was fired for what seems to be no good reason after many years of faithful service.
If you want to bone up on the pop culture icon, or you want to know all there is to know about his movies, you can't miss with either of these excellent books.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson