A new book about Roger Corman called Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses doesn't just trace the B-movie king's life and career, but judging by the following excerpt it also fills fans in on the early days of the many up-and-coming talents who worked with Corman. Talents like James Cameron.
Grantland has the excerpt from Chris Nashawaty's book. It deals with the behind-the-scenes making of Corman's 1980 Star Wars rip-off Battle Beyond the Stars, but along the way the piece also reveals some fascinating tidbits about the early stirrings of The Terminator and how Cameron (then "Jim") went from model maker to director.
Cameron recalls that he got a job on the low-budget sci-fi flick at the bottom of the totem pole in the model shop. But when Corman was impressed with his design for the main ship -- which Cameron refers to as "a kind of Amazon warrior spaceship -- basically a spaceship with tits" -- it wasn't long before the young filmmaker was running the entire art department on the film (thanks in part to an assist by fledgling producer and future Cameron partner Gale Anne Hurd).
Bill Paxton, who would go on to act in many a Cameron film, was hired by Cameron himself on his next Corman project, 1981's Galaxy of Terror. Not to act, but rather to paint sets. "While we were making Galaxy of Terror, I had sold a little short I had made to Saturday Night Live, and Jim was very taken by that," recalls the future victim of The Terminator. "And suddenly he looked at me as not just a guy painting sets but actually as a guy who had a similar ambition to his -- to be a filmmaker. About halfway through the thing, I remember one night, Jim and I were kind of working side-by-side, and he started telling me about this screenplay he was writing. And I'll never forget, he said, 'It's about a cyborg from the future that comes back to the present to kill the woman who's going to give birth to a son who, in the future, is going to lead a revolution against the machines.' And I was like, 'Far out, what are you going to call it?' He said, 'I'm going to call it The Terminator.'"
Cameron also started directing second-unit on Galaxy, because, as he remembers, he kept "building these cool sets and these guys keep shooting them like idiots. I knew how it should be done, and I was watching these boneheads, thinking I can do better than this!" That led to a scene he shot that involved electrifying worms (!) in order to get them to move on cue.
"Unbeknownst to me, two guys have wandered up behind me, one of them I know who's a sleazeball producer named Jeff Schechtman, and the other one is another sleazeball producer named Ovidio Assonitis who was going to produce Piranha II," recalls Cameron. "So these guys are watching me, and what they see is me pointing a camera at an arm with a bunch of inert worms on it, and then I say, 'Action,' which is the cue for [a crewmember] to plug the zip cord in, and all the worms come to life! They're writhing around trying to get out of this electrified methylcellulose, and then I'm shooting it. And then I say, 'Cut,' and the guy unplugs the zip cord, but you don't see him because he's behind the set wall. So what these two producers are seeing is that I say, 'Action,' and all of these worms start squirming around and I say, 'Cut,' and they stop. They can't figure it out. And what I hear back later is they go off and talk and say, 'If he's that good with worms, I wonder what he can do with actors!' And that's how I got to direct Piranha II: The Spawning."
And his next film after Piranha II? The Terminator.
Read the full excerpt at Grantland, or buy Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses here.
Source : ign[dot]com