Not on Netflix


Aug. 28, 1957
Los Angeles

Incredibly enough, The Times failed to review this double feature from American International Pictures. Take my word for it, though: Bad things happen.

How did AIP come up with such classics? In 1958, The Times’ Philip K. Scheuer interviewed James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff to find out. Nicholson and Arkoff said the typical AIP feature was shot in eight to 10 days for about $150,000 ($1,074,792.57 USD 2006). In a reverse of conventional thinking (drawing a wide audience with two diverse films) they released double bills that would appeal to the same audience, a lesson Nicholson learned in reissuing "Grapes of Wrath" and "Tobacco Road."

Here’s some tips for the next Tarantino.


"Our pictures are made primarily for the 8-to-21 groups. Science fiction and horror, about 50%; war films also; teenage stories.

"We do our planning backwards: Get what sounds like a title that will arouse interest [Think: "Dragstrip Girl" and "Night of the Blood Beast"], then a monster or gimmick; then figure what our advertising is going to consist of.

"Then we bring in a writer to provide a script to fit the title and concept.

"Now we bring in the producer–though he may have been in during the writing of the script earlier. Four of our producers are also writers and one, [Roger] Corman is also a director."


"In the whole organization, many double in jobs. Basically we’re merchandisers, so it’s easier when we work with fewer people, the ones we know can match the concept we have in mind."


"The titles are simple and don’t leave any doubt what the picture is about." [Think: "Attack of the Puppet People."]


"Titles, monsters and gimmicks are the stars. If these can’t attract, we have missed the merchandising boat."


"But we must keep coming up with different ideas than heretofore."

Nicholson and Arkoff like science fiction because "there is no other form of storytelling for which you can call upon your imagination."

But their favorite double bill so far?

"Machine Gun Kelly" and "The Bonnie Parker Story."

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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