Wild Vintage Posters from Classic Roger Corman Drive-In Movies

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Chris Nashawaty’s wonderful new book Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses is an homage to the “King of the B Movie”: Roger Corman, whose cheapo productions for American International Pictures and his own New World outfit, aimed squarely at drive-in and grindhouses, provided not only thrills for movie-goers but opportunities for countless young filmmakers looking for their first break. Nashawaty’s book (out now) is an affectionate tribute to the producer/director, an oral history with contributions by Corman and the many actors, directors, and technicians he employed. But it’s also a handsome coffee-table volume showcasing the distinctive art of these textbook exploitation movies, in which the marketing campaign was often devised before the script was even written. After the jump, we’ve selected ten of our favorite vintage Corman posters, accompanied by explanatory captions from the book.

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US poster for The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), starring Paul Birch, Lorna Thayer, Dona Cole . . . and the Beast. In Terror-Scope, no less!

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US poster for The Cry Baby Killer (1958), directed by Jus Addiss. Corman executive-produced this tense hostage drama, starring a then-unknown 21-year-old named Jack Nicholson in his big-screen debut. Corman met Nicholson in an acting class and saw something in him — even if he didn’t quite know what at the time. Nicholson didn’t possess traditional leading-man looks, but soon any idea of what a “movie star” looked like would be tossed aside.

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US poster for She Gods of Shark Reef (1958), directed by Roger Corman. Menacing tiki idols, bloodthirsty great whites, and a bevy of pearl-diving beauties with discreetly placed leis. Corman knew how to get young moviegoers to part with their hard-earned cash — even if, as in the case of this lightweight Hawaiian lark, the film didn’t quite live up to the action-packed one-sheet.

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US poster for The Trip (1967).

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US poster for Battle Beyond the Sun (1963), directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Corman hired Coppola straight out of film school to be his guy Friday. One of his earliest assignments was cutting action scenes out of a Russian sci-fi film called Nebo Zovyot and padding them with American inserts.

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US poster for Dementia 13 (1963), directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Corman thought he might have the next Psycho sensation on his hands when he backed (and then tried to back out of) Coppola’s chiller. Needless to say, it didn’t pan out that way.

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US theatrical poster for Grand Theft Auto (1977), one of a slew of rock ’em, sock ’em car-crash comedies that Roger Corman produced in the 1970s. What made this one different, though, was the young man behind the camera — a still-baby-faced, 23-year-old former child star named Ron Howard, who would go on to direct such critical and box-office hits as Splash, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind. Howard was just one in a long list of A-list Hollywood filmmakers who would learn how to direct on Corman’s dime.

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US poster for Boxcar Bertha (1972). A pre–Mean Streets Martin Scorsese learned the nuts and bolts of low-budget filmmaking thanks to this Corman-produced period piece.

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US poster for Bloody Mama (1970), directed by Roger Corman. Shelley Winters stars as the gun-toting Ma Barker in Corman’s Depression-era gangster film. Winters brought along a young actor who’d made a strong impression on her back in New York, Robert De Niro.

IMAGE CREDIT: “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses” by Chris Nashawaty © Abrams, 2013

US poster for Death Race 2000 (1975), directed by Paul Bartel. Is it a sci-fi film, a high-octane action picture, or a subversive swipe at America’s bloodthirst for media spectacle? Why not all three?

Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses is available now.