Monday, July 6, 2009

The Ed Wood Blogathon!


In case you didn't know (and really, there's no reason why you should unless you happen to travel the same darkened alleys of the Internet that I do), today is Kick-Off Day for The Spirit of Ed Wood Blogathon, a... well... something-or-other kinda, sorta celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Plan 9 From Outer Space:

"So, is it a Plan 9 blogathon? No. An Ed Wood blogathon? No again. See, I don't want it to be too limiting. I want people's imagination and creativity to flourish so I'm calling it The Spirit of Ed Wood Blogathon. The idea is if you want to write about Plan 9 you can. Or Ed Wood. Or any underground, cheaply made movie that was filled with heart, or just incompetence. It can even be about good movies too. Carnival of Souls was made on the cheap in the can-do spirit of Ed Wood and actually succeeded. So basically I leave it up to you. Let the spirit of that unstoppable force of cinema, Ed Wood, be your guide, not me."

I have other, non-Woodian essays in mind, but let's start with the bare basics.

Ed Wood was (he's long dead) the creative force behind some of the most entertainingly inept films of all time: the aforementioned Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster (a personal fave), Night of the Ghouls, and Orgy of the Dead, among others, but what's important here is not the near-total lack of budget, the bad sets, bad lighting, bad special effects, bad acting, or, most of all, the exceptionally bad dialogue; these things are laughable and unabashedly amusing, sure, but what I admire most about ol' Ed is that none of these things stood in his way.

The Church of the SubGenius has a word, bulldada, which means "that which is great because it does not know how bad it is" and that pretty much sums up Ed Wood, Jr.* He wanted to make movies and he did. Never mind that they weren't particularly good movies. Never mind that that he wasn't up to (then) contemporary professional standards. He did the best he could with what he had. Most importantly, he did something.

Let me explain that last part. Long before Ed achieved cult status my small circle of friends used to discuss (and laugh about) Ed, especially his penchant for cross-dressing with those low-cut, fuzzy-ass sweaters so popular in the 'Fifties. "You know," one of us said, "someone should write his biography. Who wouldn't want to read about someone so so weird?" "Yeah," another one of us opined, "we could call it Look Back in Angora."**

"Neat idea!" I thought, then filed it on the back burner.

Twenty years later Rudolph Grey published Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

A couple of years after that Rhino released the documentary, Ed Wood: Look Back In Angora.

And, of course, Tim Burton had a hit movie with Ed Wood.

I didn't do anything and got beaten to the punch on what turned out to be A. Really. Good. Idea.

Carpe diem, you snooze, you lose, but Ed would have barreled on ahead, regardless of, well, anything!

Ah, me. Here's to you, Edward D. Wood, Jr.; you remain a twisted kind of inspiration for us all.



*Some of you less familiar with Badfilm may enjoy this article on Zontarian Aesthetics.

**Sad to say, I don't recall who said what.

5 comments:

Cathy VanPatten said...

The Bink was seriously interested in optioning the Ed Wood bio when it first was published, but he didn't have the dough (at that point--I'm sure that wouldn't be an impediment now), and by the time he persuaded Bob Goldthwait to pony up some money, Tim Burton had beaten them to the punch. Made a highly entertaining film, though!

Glen or Glenda is probably my favorite Ed Wood for sheer insane non sequitur: Pull the string! PULL the STRING!

JSaM said...

I remember "Bride of the Monster" when the Early Show showed it in the mid-60's. Even more memorable, I remembeer "Plan 9" when my mom let me stay up and watch it at 11:30 p.M. (a school night!) on a Sunday night, because it had Lugosi in it. Boy, were we both surprised! It was trash, even then, but seeing Lugosi and Tor Johnson (or their doubles) reduced to skeletons terrified me!

Capcom said...

Did you know that one half of what is left of Best Brains (MST3K), that is now RiffTrax, is doing a live Mistie type of show with "Plan9" on August 20 in participating theaters? link

They also have released a Mistie-riffed version of "Plan 9" on DVD now too, it's on Amazon as well as their site.

higgmeister said...

Lee,

Wow! Didn't I know you with another last name once? I stumbled upon your blog while searching for any WWW sign that our teacher, Connie Fletcher, had received the recognition or appreciation she so obviously deserves. Imagine my shock to see her name in a blog, to see that others still have the school song hardcoded in their gray matter, and that the same blogger had dated Cindy Hawkins. Then I looked at the picture and after a few moments realized that the blogger was an old friend that I had even shared a tent with in my ever more distant youth. Did you ever let Sheila out of that backpack? I will be reading your blog to catch up with a kindred soul over the next few days. Right now, I’m supposed to be studying for my ITIL V3 certification.

David H.

Capcom said...

FYI, one more chance to see the RiffTrax "Plan 9" at the theater, in an encore rebroadcast in October. See the RiffTrax website for details. :-)

I went to the live braodcast in August, it was fantastic.