ED WOOD. (1994) DIRECTED BY TIM BURTON. BASED ON ‘NIGHTMARE OF ECSTASY: THE LIFE AND ART OF EDWARD D. WOOD JR.’ BY RUDOLPH GREY. STARRING JOHNNY DEPP, MARTIN LANDAU, SARAH JESSICA PARKER, PATRICIA ARQUETTE, LISA MARIE, JULIET LANDAU, BILL MURRAY, JEFFREY JONES AND MAX CASELLA. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. © I’m glad to be able to put in a good word here for heart-throb American actor Johnny Depp, given the hard time he’s been getting in the press lately, with his good name being dragged through the mud and all that. This, in my humble opinion, is one of his best movies. He’s really good at playing quirky oddbods like Ed Wood, the man sometimes deemed to be the worst film director of all time, and he imbues this performance with all the heart, charm and quirky (yes, again!) humour of which he is capable. The film portrays budding ‘50s film director, Ed Wood, making basically two science fiction exploitation films, the first being Christine Jorgensen’s life story, filmed as I CHANGED MY SEX or GLEN OR GLENDA by the cross-dressing Ed Wood, the man with a passion for soft, angora sweaters nicked from his girlfriend Dolores. She’s played by Sarah Jessica Parker, of SEX AND THE CITY FAME. It’s not really Ed’s film, as he’s directing it for producer George Weiss, who’s putting up the dough. The sex-change movie flops, even though Ed Wood has managed to cast his new best friend in it, the former horror actor Bela Lugosi. There’s a really touching relationship/friendship between the two men. Bela is the wise old mentor who’s lived through the golden age of UNIVERSAL horror and Hollywood and has many and varied opinions on things, while Ed Wood just laps up every word that falls from the old man’s lips. They are teacher and pupil, mentor and mentee, uncle and nephew, even father and son. Ed is even the man Bela calls when he accidentally overdoses on the drugs to which he’s been addicted for years. I love when they’re sitting together in Bela’s mausoleum of a house, the two of them watching his old horror movies together with the two yappy little doggies in tow. Ed then gets Bela to star in his own film, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, with Bela attached to play the lead role, a mad scientist/doctor-type who wants to get his revenge on the world by unleashing a race of super-human beings on it, even though he never gets so far as to work on these superior beings, I believe. The movie is a critical and commercial flop, and causes people to riot in the cinemas. Never a good sign, that… With backing from the church, of all people, the permanently optimistic and upbeat Ed sets out to independently make the film for which he’ll be forever remembered: PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, initially known as GRAVE ROBBERS FROM OUTER SPACE, but the Churchies didn’t dig it… PLAN 9 will be the last movie ever to star horror legend Bela Lugosi. Footage of his final scenes are heart-breaking. Oh, how Bela had longed to be back in the movie-making business! Martin Landau won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his marvellously sympathetic, delicately nuanced portrayal of the has-been, washed-up actor, two phrases I dislike using in connection with possibly the best horror actor the world has ever seen. Karloff? Don’t say his name in front of Bela. Pah, Karloff! PLAN 9 is a ludicrous mix of live action with stock cinema footage left over from other productions, props unashamedly nicked by Ed & Co. from other productions and home-made flying saucers incinerated on the set, and all shot at night so they could have the run of the studio and everything in it before the ‘real,’ ‘serious’ film-makers and crews start work for the day. I adore Lisa Marie as Maila Nurmi, aka the wasp-waisted horror hostess Vampira, and George Steele as professional wrestler Tor Johnson, who each appear in PLAN 9. Bill Murray has a small but very funny part as Ed’s sardonic drag queen friend, and I love Jeffrey Jones as the Great Criswell, a psychic TV entertainer and friend of Ed’s who was known for making mostly wildly inaccurate predictions, lol. Little Max Casella went on to play Benny Fazio in THE SOPRANOS, my favourite television show ever, and I love that Kathy O’Hara, Ed’s girlfriend after Dolores Fuller, is okay with Ed’s transvestism. He’s not a ‘fruit,’ by the way, he still likes sex with girls! It’s just that he likes to wear their clothes, too! I really love the scene at the end where Ed and Kathy drive to Vegas in the lashing rain after the premiere of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, the film for which Ed confidently predicts that he’ll be remembered. Oh, that we all could be as optimistic as Ed! This is a great film about one helluva nice guy who deserves this loving tribute. Him and Bela too. I expect they’re up there together right now, Ed in fluffy pink angora, Bela in his Dracula togs, gabbing away and watching Bela’s old movies. Good on ya, guys. You’ve earned it.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: