Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Defense Of Ed Wood

Bloodrayne. In the Name of the King. Postal. Alone In the Dark. Seed. House of the Dead. Such titles instill fear in even the hardiest cinephile. Call director Uwe Boll a talentless hack, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees. However, many people are calling him something that I do disagree with. In fact, I'd go so far as to say he doesn't deserve it. 

Several critics, journalists, and the movie-going public at large have decided that Boll is the new Ed Wood. Quite frankly, I feel this is more insulting to Wood than it is to Boll. Ed Wood has much more to offer movie lovers. His films are superior entertainment, and he loved making them. Now, do not misunderstand me; Wood was a terrible director. So terrible in fact, that there is not one movie in his ouevre I would call good. His special effects are string and hubcaps, his cast was usually comprised of friends, junkies, and other non-professionals, and the plots are sometimes outdone by a particularly well-written episode of Care Bears. But I am not one of those people who thinks that if something is bad, it cannot be worthwhile. Films directed by Ed Wood guarantee hilarious dialogue and riff-worthy acting, not to mention effects that any 12-year old with a computer can improve on. Plan 9 from Outer Space is especially amusing, with a chiropractor standing in for Bela Lugosi, despite his being much taller than the famous Hungarian actor.
It would seem that Wood did not care much about continuity, or believability. That may be true. But, unlike Boll, I think that Wood actually enjoyed making movies. Yes, he may have been talentless, but he was not a hack. I hold to the image of Wood that director Tim Burton gave us in his biopic: a man determined to finish his film, quality be damned. A man who loved movies and moviemaking, if not learning how to make better movies. A man who never achieved success in his lifetime, but became famous after his death... because millions of aspiring filmmakers are interested in knowing what NOT to do.

Uwe Boll is every bit as pathetic when it comes to crafting quality cinema, but I do not see him as a man who loves what he does. I see him as a man who loves money and little else. If you have some friends with you, you may survive a Boll flick, but you won't enjoy it. With a Wood picture, you'll enjoy it. Rent Plan 9 from Outer Space and you'll see that it's one of the greatest movies ever made. Terrible, yes, but great.
There is only one Ed Wood. Don't dirty his already filthy legend by comparing him to the man who made Alone In the Dark.

(Editor's Note: This article first appeared on www.thatguywiththeglasses.com November 22nd, 2009)


  1. I hate to say that I've never seen an Ed Wood movie. Not even the Tim Burton flick. I would like to see some, though, given availability.

  2. I think what I most love about Ed's movies is that there is such exuberance in them. He really launched into his terrible movies head first, and they were art to him. Plus, I've always been moved by how important he and Bela Lugosi were to each other.
    He wasn't a perfect guy, he was really troubled. And the overt sexism in his movies is upsetting even in the context of the times, but his movies are fun (I actually like Bride of the Monster more than plan 9) and I've decided to put on the rose colored glasses towards him that Tim Burton did in his movie.
    Nice write up!

  3. Exactly! He wasn't good at what he did, but at least he had passion, enthusiasm, and determination. That counts for a lot. And like you said, they're just fun movies, by accident OR design. In my opinion though, Plan 9 is definitely the winner in Wood's filmography. Thanks for commenting!

  4. You should certainly check out the Burton flick, Daffy, at least to start off, then do a back-to-back screening of the Rifftrax Live Plan 9 show. It's great fun. The Burton flick exudes love for Wood, plus it's damn funny.