Monte Hellman was born on July 12, 1929, in New York City, where his parents were visiting, but he grew up in Los Angeles. He studied drama at Stanford University--on an NBC scholarship--and film at UCLA. After a few years directing in summer theater, Hellman hooked up with legendary "B" movie producer Roger Corman in the late 1950s. Corman helped finance Hellman's production of "Waiting For Godot", the the first time that Samuel Beckett's play had been staged in Los Angeles; the Los Angeles Times said it was "directed with wisdom, devotion and perception." Hellman made his film directorial debut with Beast from Haunted Cave (1959) and directed portions of Corman's The Terror (1963).
Hellman joined forces with frequent collaborator Jack Nicholson for two pictures shot back-to-back in the Philippines: Back Door to Hell (1964) and Flight to Fury (1964), then re-teamed with Nicholson for two existential westerns filmed in Utah under similar conditions: The Shooting (1966) and Ride in the Whirlwind (1966). After editing several films for Corman, including The Wild Angels (1966), Hellman directed what many consider to be his best work, Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), which starred Warren Oates and featured singer James Taylor and The Beach Boys' drummer Dennis Wilson in dramatic roles. It was included in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2012.
Hellman's next film was Cockfighter (1974), an adaptation of Charles Willeford's novel, also starring Oates. Hellman collaborated with the actor once more on the European western China 9, Liberty 37 (1978). After completing Avalanche Express (1979) following the death of its original director, Mark Robson. Hellman made Iguana (1988) and the darkly humorous Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out! (1989).
Hellman's work was a major influence on Quentin Tarantino, and he served as executive producer on Tarantino's directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs (1992). After a lengthy absence from the screen, he returned to directing with the short Stanley's Girlfriend (2006), included in the horror anthology Trapped Ashes (2006), and the feature film Road to Nowhere (2010), which won a Special Golden Lion at Venice: the award was presented by jury president Tarantino, who introduced Hellman as "a great cinematic artist and a minimalist poet".
Hellman was one of 70 directors asked to contribute a 90-second movie to _Venice 70: Future Reloaded (2013), which opened the 70th Venice Film Festival in 2013. His latest project is "Love or Die", which is scheduled to commence shooting in Lisbon, Portugal, in March 2014.
-------------- Biography by Woodyanders. Corrected by A. Nonymous. Revised, corrected and updated by Brad Stevens, author of 'Monte Hellman: His Life and Films', in 2014. Corrected by A. Nonymous.