Roger Corman's proteges -- A look at the new batch of mainstream movie makers, from Curtis Hanson to Katt Shea

By Tim Purtell
Updated February 05, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

Joe Dante’s ode to cheapie horror flicks, Matinee, should ring true: He knows the territory. Like directors Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, and Jonathan Demme, Dante got his start cranking out quickies for low-budget producer Roger Corman. Now there’s a new batch of Corman graduates making a splash with mainstream movies. Here’s a page from the latest yearbook of the Corman school with remarks from the headmeister.

Corman curriculum: Directed The Hunt for Red October knockoff, Full Fathom Five (1990). Postgraduate work: Earned critical raves with last summer’s neo-noir crime drama One False Move. Teacher’s comments: ”An intelligent director who works well with actors and the camera. He’s deceptively low-key on the set, but his pictures have a great deal of intensity.”

Corman curriculum: Directed Tab Hunter showcase, The Arousers (1970). Postgraduate work: The sleeper hit The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Teacher’s comments: ”A talented director. He worked for me a number of years ago. I was surprised when he didn’t advance more quickly.”

Corman curriculum: Directed South American soldier-of-fortune actioner Hour of the Assassin (1987). Postgraduate work: The current thriller Sniper, with Tom Berenger. Teacher’s comments: ”A very talented director and a very efficient producer. When I met him in Lima, Peru, he had a small production company, so his beginnings were a lot like mine.”

Corman curriculum: Directed ESP shocker Stripped to Kill II: Live Girls (1989). Postgraduate work: Created a lot of buzz with the potboiler Poison Ivy. Teacher’s comments: ”Another talented director. She’s particularly good with actors, having been an actress herself. She’s taught herself about the camera and has gotten better with each picture.”

Corman curriculum: Directed punk-rock vigilante melodrama Suburbia (1983). Postgraduate work: Scored $122 million at the box office with Wayne’s World. Teacher’s comments: ”A very talented woman. She has a feeling for the reality of the hip life around us. She’s part of that life and reflects it very well.”