Roger Corman

by Craig B.

Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a cinephile of schlock. I love bad movies. The cheesier, the better. I love feasting on unintentional humor…low-budget shoestring affairs whose only intentions are to turn a quick buck, art be damned. There used to be a lot of them out there. Strangely, the advent of computer generated special effects and editing has killed a good portion of the genre. Any schmo can make a movie now, and even if the acting and the script are bottom-of-the-garbage-can bad, your Apple laptop can hide that with competent (if not particularly inspired) editing and CGI.

Perhaps no single person epitomizes the spirit of B-Movie cinema like Roger Corman. He’s spent half a century shoveling some of the sappiest claptrap ever seen inside a theater. If you want to see an excellent biopic about his life and the numerous Tinseltown glitterati he weaned from infancy to stardom, I beseech you to watch Corman’s World.

And now, here’s some of my favorite “so bad, they’re good” picks from the maestro of malarkey, Roger Corman.

Attack of the Crab Monsters 

And just when you thought the giant-telepathic-crab genre was dead. My favorite line from this flick is when Dr. Karl Weigand, upon being told that a mountain has disappeared during the night, exclaims somberly, “I’m not surprised.”  Russell Johnson hams his way through the lead role. You can’t miss him. He plays a professor who creates gadgets in an attempt to get him and his friends off of the crab-infested island. Sound familiar? It should…he plays the same role on Gilligan’s Island later in his career.

Piranha

Corman knows a good thing when he sees it: he just doesn’t know how to make a good thing himself. In his career, he’s produced a considerable library of knockoff schlock-fests. What makes a Corman knockoff such a spectacular affair is his proclivity to farm fresh talent at the lowest possible price. Piranha is no exception. The film is directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, Innerspace) and co-written by John Sayles (Eight Men Out, Lone Star) who were, at that time, two eager unknown filmmakers. They were given one month and $660,000 (pricey for a Corman production) to craft a competent rip-off of Jaws. I can’t honestly say that they achieved competency, but they did achieve a barrel full of hilarity and kitsch.

The Little Shop of Horrors

This isn’t the 1986 musical that we all grew up with, but rather its 1960 progenitor. It was listed in the Guinness Book of Film Facts and Feats as the “shortest shooting schedule for a full-length, commercial feature film made without the use of stock footage.” It took 2 ½ days and $23,000 to make. The crew simply used sets that were still standing from A Bucket of Blood. This also marks the first film that paired Roger Corman with Jack Nicholson. It’s funny that Jack shows up on the DVD cover, though; he’s only in the flick for about 5 minutes. Leave it to Corman to exploit a good thing at all costs.

War of the Satellites

Joe Dante used to joke that if Corman had directed Lawrence of Arabia, T.E. would have never left the tent. Corman’s art director Dan Haller said that the rocket’s interior for War of the Satellites was “four arches to make the hallways in the spaceship, and two lounge chairs. That was the entire ship.” I think Haller forgot about the room with the beepy thing.

I hope you enjoy these titles! Be sure to comment with any additional titles you discover so I can add them to my list.

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Fall Crafts

Image result for cozy autumn bookBy Kaley

It’s that time of year, folks! Temperatures have dropped, gray skies are upon us, and it is time to hunker down while you hear rain gently fall on your rooves. Grab your favorite toasty beverage and let’s explore a few books to get your home cute and cozy this season. Continue reading »

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As Eaten on TV

by Melleny T.

I am a big fan of cookbooks. I’m also a big fan of eating. What I am not a big fan of, though, is cooking.

old-fashioned tv dinner in foil tray

But that doesn’t stop me from happily browsing cookbooks as they come through the library. I especially enjoy unusual cookbooks. (You may recall that I also enjoy unusual craft books and unusual YA books.)

In case you’ve been living under a rock, let me tell you that there is a whole world of cookbooks tied to popular culture. You can find clever recipes based on movies, literature, video games, and even general geekery.

I particularly enjoy the wide variety of cookery innovation related to television shows. Whether the show is sadly no longer on the air or still thriving, these books are a joy to peruse, if only for the delightful dish names.

And if you’re the kind of person who actually does enjoy cooking (I’m not judging – in fact, I’m kind of jealous), this seems like a great opportunity for a very delicious binge-watching party.

So dig in to this list of TV-inspired cookbooks and feast your eyes on the beautiful food photography and maybe even some behind-the-scenes tidbits. Gives a whole new meaning to TV dinner, right?

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LGBT History Month 2019

by Lois H. (they/them or she/her)

October is LGBT History Month!

Started in 1994 by high school teacher Rodney Wilson, this monthly observance is a time to celebrate the diverse and longstanding history of the LGBTQIA+ community. The celebration also coincides with National Coming Out Day on October 11.

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Beyond Bestsellers: James Patterson

by Marie B

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy October and its rather gloomy weather.  It’s perfect for hunkering down with a warm beverage and a good book.  As the days grow darker, dear reader, so does Beyond Bestsellers.  This month our focus is on crime fiction. Continue reading »

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Some Like it Hot

by Marie B.

Well, the sun has set on another Pacific Northwest summer.  Some years we’re lucky to have two weeks of warmish weather all season long, but we had a good run in 2019.  While I enjoy the warm days, the mercury can only rise so high before it gets to be too hot for me.  My personal tipping point is about 80.  I know, I know.  Some people aren’t bothered by high temperatures at all.  Still, cooler summers is one of the reasons I love living here.  But… Continue reading »

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Boarding School Novels

By Jennifer K.

I did not go to a fancy private boarding school. I don’t think I know anyone who did.

But I do love a novel set in a fancy private boarding school. I guess it’s the idea of all these kids, far from their families and with no one to rely upon but each other, in a place that’s full of secrets and mysteries. Or maybe it’s the glamour of implied wealth, and lots of it.

Maybe it’s the glamour of Hogwarts.

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Narrator Spotlight: More Read by the Author

by Marina M.

I presented my first list of audio favorites read by the author over two years ago. I’m back to add to that list with a whole new crop of author-narrated audio favorites.

In my own completely unscientific poll I’ve found that audiobooks read by the author tend to be memoirs. But there’s been a recent uptick with authors of general fiction or nonfiction reading their own works. And, surprising myself, I don’t hate that trend. Admittedly, I rarely listen to fiction so all of my examples will be either memoirs or other nonfiction.

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The Greatest Form of Flattery

By Isaac H.

There’s a saying that “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”. This may not always be true, but it can be in many instances. Particularly in the case of film and television. There are many examples of imitations, re-creations, parodies, spoofs and homages that hold a place a higher place of honor in my heart than the more iconic originals they were based on. What follows is a list of movies that were made as spoofs, parodies or homages to other more serious films.

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Looking Behind the Curtain, 30 Years Later

by Denise D.

Secrecy

Late summer finds me thinking about the Cold War and the Iron Curtain. It started with the HBO show Chernobyl which flung me back to April 1986, my friend, Chris, racing into my college dorm room to shout about a nuclear accident in the Soviet Union.

Chris and I had bonded during that freshman year over our shared fascination with all things Russia. It was the height of the Cold War. The USSR was still shrouded in darkness and secrecy, a fascinating enigma. Our Russian language professor, among the few who had traveled to the Soviet Union, peppered our vocabulary and grammar lessons with endlessly fascinating tales about Russian history, literature and traveling behind the Iron Curtain.

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