Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Feed Me, Seymour

Screenwriter Charles B. Griffith has passed away at age 77. For those of you with a passion for Crappy Movies, Griffith was a master of writing them, including LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (which Roger Corman directed in just over two days!), A BUCKET OF BLOOD, ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, DEATH RACE 2000, THE WILD ANGELS, ROCK ALL NIGHT, NOT OF THIS EARTH, IT CONQUERED THE EARTH and so many more genuinely entertaining and often surprisingly thoughtful low-budget genre pictures. Most of Griffith's scripts were either directed by Corman during his heyday as an exploitation filmmaker or produced for Corman's New World Pictures during the 1970s. Late in his career, Griffith became a director, though EAT MY DUST! (Ron Howard's first starring role) is his only memorable picture in this regard.

If anyone besides Corman himself (and perhaps American International Pictures president Samuel Z. Arkoff) can take credit for Corman's legacy as a director, it would likely be Griffith, who wrote most of Corman's biggest successes. THE WILD ANGELS basically created the short-lived biker movie genre of the late '60s/early '70s. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS was remade both as a film and a Broadway musical, and DEATH RACE 2000 is currently being remade for the big screen as DEATH RACE 3000. ROCK ALL NIGHT is a thoroughly entertaining picture that takes place all on one set and includes musical numbers by The Platters. Griffith's scripts were noted for their oddball scenarios and clever dialogue that outclassed most of what was playing at drive-ins then, though Corman was a bright enough filmmaker to recognize Griffith's wry subtext and take advantage of it.

Not much has been written about Griffith, to the best of my knowledge, but Aaron W. Graham interviewed him about his work three years ago. You can find it here, and I highly recommend it to fans of his and of Roger Corman's.

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