He’s been called the worst film maker ever to set foot in Hollywood. His ideas were quite frankly ludicrous, but he had the uncanny ability to turn himself into a cult hero. Mention the name of Edward D. Wood, Junior, and some people will tell you that he was nothing more than a weirdo with an angora fetish with an entourage of people even more weird than himself. But the great man is the first in what will hopefully become a series on Double Bill film reviews.
We start off in 1955, with Bride of the Monster. Originally, Wood wanted to call this film Bride of the Atom, but apparently your average American Joe Public didn’t know what an atom was in 1955, hence the title change. It’s typical 1950’s monster fare here. Starring Bela Lugosi as Doctor Eric Vornoff, the story is simple. People are vanishing when they go near a swamp, and the local police investigate. It is Vornoff’s
wish to create a race of atomic supermen, hence his evil experiments. A totally unconvincing octopus, and tons of bad acting ensue, especially from the local coppers. Wood’s dialogue is also a joy to behold, as it’s unintentionally both bad and good at the same time.
The Internet Movie Database give this film a whopping 3.1 out of 10. Every aspect of the film’s production is really, really bad, but in a highly delightful sort of way.
When then move forward four years, to a film that is universally recognised as the worst film ever made - Plan 9 From Outer Space. The tag line for this film has to be one of the best in motion picture history - Unspeakable Horrors From Outer Space Paralyze The Living And Resurrect The Dead! Starring Tor Johnson, Criswell, Vampira, Bela Lugosi, and Ed Wood’s usual band of misfits, everything about this films just screams tacky. The plot is laughable, the production values suck, the dialogue is ludicrous, and the set at times looks like it’s about to fall down at any moment.
But what is most absurd about this film is Lugosi’s starring role. Shortly before he died in 1956, Wood filmed Lugosi, and used a great deal of this footage in Plan 9. But how could Lugosi star in a film three years after he died, I hear you ask? Wood got his chiropractor, Tom Mason, to play Lugosi’s part, holding his long black cape over his face so just his eyes remained visible. Wood thought that he had movie goers fooled, but any idiot with half a brain could tell the difference.
But the thing about Plan 9 is that even though it’s bad, it’s good, if you know what I mean. This was meant to be a horror film, but Wood unintentionally came up with a comedy classic.
One thing that you can say about Ed Wood was that he was as untalented as he was enthusiastic. But almost thirty years after his death, Wood’s films continue to develop a cult following, even though they are so, so bad. But then again, that’s what makes his films so compelling.