I've been really geeking out on some Ed Wood for the last couple of days now. When we first started work on the initial version of "Slain at Lover's Lane" and we're trying to raise money, I had the idea to do a promotional video that was exactly the same gag as what Ed Wood did with Bela Lugosi in "Plan 9 From Outer Space". The idea being that the only way he could still sell his movie, even though Bela Lugosi was dead, was to use the initial footage he shot with him then use a double, or rather a guy with a cape over his face. So we did the same gag but with my friend Bobcat playing a Bela Lugosi character with the same idea that he died or quit during the filming so we replaced him with another actor.
I don't see this video as the "ultimate cut" of what we shot and eventually I'm going to release the version where we actually see Bobcat die and the whole thing is introduced by our Criswell character, but I'm quite pleased with some of the imagery we did achieve in this version, especially our stunning looking Vampira.
Here's the interesting thing that happened when I was shooting this though. When I first showed the actors the "script" some of them were unfamiliar with Ed Wood and his particular, "style". At first I explained to them that they need to not act well, but when you tell someone this they tend to ham it up and really go for a completely unfettered hokey performance. This is definitely not what Ed Wood actors did. So what you realize is that you can't direct someone to "act bad" but rather you have to express the idea that as an actor in an Ed Wood farce you need to try your damnest to give an Academy Award winning performance but unfortunately the script doesn't make very much sense, the director is a little off his onion and you don't have that much talent anyway...
The people in these movies, especially Ed, put their hearts and souls into creating this harrowingly bad motion pictures! No one goes out to make a bad movie and certainly Ed Wood did not. His movies are brimming with "messages" and his bizarre outlook on life. Just watch the opening scene of 1953's "Glen or Glenda" .
I can watch these movies over and over again because sure you can say that "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is the "worst movie ever made" but the fact that we are talking about it doing screenings and theatircal production of it some 60 years later is a testament to the genius and madness of Edward D. Wood Jr.
Some people say he has a "bad eye" and I don't necessarily disagree, but what he did have was an amazing imagination and a very strange point of view and the incredible thing about watching an Ed Wood film is that first of all it is unlike anything you will ever see, and second of all it is absolutely pure. What do I mean? The man was notorious for doing only one or two takes, so what your seeing on film is an ego-free, absolutely truthful portrait of what these actors where doing for better or worse, during this production in the 1950s.
My friend Josiah Miller who is a very talented musician and a connoisseur of the strange and unusual like myself had this to say about "Plan 9": "This is the Citizen Kane of terrible movies. Ultimate achievement. A benchmark. An example for the ages. Probably never to be surpassed in earnest well-intentioned awfulness; the only contenders being other films by Edward D. Wood, Jr. "
The strange thing is that when you think of it this is what all great artists do, they capture a pure moment of beauty or truth or horror and if its good it stays with us for decades. The ingenious photographer and creator of the Zone System Ansel Adams would sit for hours on end to capture just the right moment of pure beauty in stunning black and white. Am I comparing Ansel Adams to Ed Wood? You bet your ass I am!
Okay, obviously one of them had a lot more skill, discipline and technical talent but I'm specifically talking about imagery and the ability to capture images that have a lasting power on us. Ansel Adams created images of Yosemite and other National Parks that have stayed in our collective consicousnes for decades and Ed Wood created images of Vampira and poorly built flying saucers that have done the same! No matter what you say about Ed Wood you have to recognize that his movies are a unique piece of cinema that will hopefully never go away.
On one last note, however bad Ed Wood pictures are supposed to be I can say without a moments hesitation that I would rather be "Clockwork Oranged" by someone and tied to a chair forced to watch any Ed Wood picture over and over again for months than ever have to see another "Hangover" or Vince Vaughn movie ever again. "Worst move of all I time"? See the poster to my right.
-Matt Kollar (Writer/Director)