Archive for Ed Wood

Night of the Ghouls (1959) Review

Posted in Night of the Ghouls with tags , , , , on August 24, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- The Dead of Night Is Alive with the Dead

Release Date- 1959

Running Time- 69-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Edward D. Wood Jr.

Starring- Duke Moore, Kenne Duncan, Valda Hansen, Tor Johnson, Paul Marco and Criswell

Night of the Ghouls was something of a lost film for over 20-years, filmed in 1958 (or 1959), but after it was shot Night of the Ghouls was held by a post production house since Ed Wood couldn’t pay the lab fee and the film was never released. When Wade Williams acquired Plan 9 from Outer Space, Ed Wood’s widow told Williams of Night of the Ghouls and he paid the fees and acquired the rights to the film and finally the world got see Ed Wood’s lost film Night of the Ghouls. This film is part of what’s called the Patrolman Kelton trilogy. The character was played by Paul Marco and he also played the role of Kelton in Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space. Ed Wood is often cited as the worst filmmaker I said it before and I’ll say it again I admire Ed Wood. He worked outside the Hollywood system on very limited funds and while Ed Wood is most certainly not a good filmmaker and sure his films were hack jobs, but they were at the very least fun. I could name several filmmakers that also made films as poorly made and were total bores. Outside of really Bride of the Monster, Ed Wood wasn’t very successful as nobody was really seeing his films and it wasn’t until after his death his cult legacy was born. But despite going unnoticed he continued to make films regardless of quality and for that I have to admire the guy. It’s sort of become the cool thing to do and label Ed Wood the worst, but its even more annoying when people say that and yet never saw his work. However I suppose at the very least it does keep him remembered even if not for the right reasons.

Night of the Ghouls is your typical Ed Wood film; it features everything he would become infamous for; the film is filled with poor dialogue, poor acting, stock shots, cheap production values and its everything you expect to see in a film by Ed Wood. The first 15-minutes were a lot of fun and it had everything I love about Ed Wood, but after that it quickly takes a nosedive and unlike Bride of the Monster and Plan 9, Night of the Ghouls is a bad film for the most part and not in a fun way. While the 2nd half has some moments I however often found myself losing focus on the film and when compared to Bride of the Monster and Plan 9, Night of the Ghouls very much lacks. The main setting for the film is the same location from Bride of the Monster and there are a couple of mentions and Lobo played by Tor Johnson returns and of course as mentioned Patrolman Kelton and he briefly mentions events from Bride of the Monster and Plan 9. If you never saw the other two you really wouldn’t be missing out as its not really crucial to see them to understand this though you might enjoy this a tiny bit more knowing the other two films. While none of Ed Wood’s films can be labeled good in the traditional sense they were however fun, but Night of the Ghouls after a really fun start quickly runs out of steam and gets quite sluggish.

Dr. Acula (Duncan) is a phony medium and cheats people out of money by pretending to contact dead family members, but Dr. Acula accidentally does contacting the dead as he revives a bunch of dead corpses.

The screenplay by Ed Wood is quite poor and worst of all boring at times. I suppose one can say all of Wood’s scripts were poor, they were filled with such silly dialogue, but were more often than not a lot of fun, but with Night of the Ghouls the writing was just bad and not in a good way. Quite honestly I’m not sure if Wood wrote this to be a legit horror film or campy. Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 were legit attempts and that’s really what makes them so fun, but here with Night of the Ghouls I really was unsure on what Wood’s intentions were. If anything I guess it was a bit of both as the first 15-minutes the camp value was mostly intentional with some that weren’t. The characters here are mostly boring, but they do have their moments. Kenton was a blast like always, but the problem here is the dialogue is just mostly bad and again not in a good way like Bride of the Monster and Plan 9.

As director Ed Wood crafts a really sluggishly paced film that at times I had a tough time focusing on. It’s quite a shame since I was really digging the film early on and the fun factor was quite high, but it quickly takes a nosedive. Wood does attempt at creating an eerie tone to go along with some suspense, but he isn’t good enough of a filmmaker to pull it off. At 69-minutes, Night of the Ghouls actually does feel overly long despite the brief running time. Night of the Ghouls was just sort of a mess and its unfortunate since like I stated the opening 15-minutes were a lot of fun, but the film just gets far too sluggish in pacing and far too wordy and Wood isn’t a skilled enough writer or director to keep it interesting and he doesn’t have a cast with enough talent to make it worked either. I really do enjoy the films of Ed Wood and while he is a poor filmmaker I also think he’s unfairly labeled the worst, but with films like Night of the Ghouls it’s quite difficult to defend him, but I’ve still seen far worse than this in both quality if filmmaking and the film itself as while sure the 2nd half can get boring, but it does have its moments and I can name a lot of films far worse made and far more boring.

There are a couple of things that do work like for starters the opening narration by Criswell. I don’t know a lot about him, but he was a psychic. In the opening he looks into the camera while reciting his dialogue as he’s meant to be taking to the audience, but he constantly glances off camera than looks back at the camera. He’s most likely reading from cue cards. The precinct is just a room and the offices on the door there isn’t a plaque with a name on it, but instead a white strip of tape with their name written on it. This was all within the first 15-minutes when again Night of the Ghouls worked best. Also there is a single photo on the wall at the precinct with the words wanted written above it and the photo is of none other than Ed Wood. And lastly the name Dr. Acula (Dracula) is fairly clever.

Overall Night of the Ghouls is mostly just poor with not many redeeming qualities, but its not a complete bust as their are some highly entertaining moments that only Ed Wood could deliver even if they’re entertaining for the wrong reasons. I can’t say I hated the film and perhaps I’ll warm up to it, but it just never reaches the fun factor that Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space reached.








Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) Review

Posted in Plan 9 from Outer Space with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


*** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Unspeakable Horrors from Outer Space Paralyze the Living and Resurrect the Dead

Release Date- July 22nd, 1959

Running Time- 78-Minutes

Rating- NR

Writer/Director- Edward D. Wood Jr.

Starring- Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Duke Moore, Tom Keene, Vampira, Paul Marco with Tor Johnson and Bela Lugosi

Plan 9 from Outer Space and the director of the film Ed Wood are both kind of legendary, but not for the reasons most films and filmmakers are legendary for. Many consider Plan 9 one of the worst films ever made and Ed Wood often cited as the worst director of all time. Wood’s hack status is so legendary that people who’ve never seen his films will often compare other bad filmmakers to him. I guess if you can’t be the best might as well be the worst since to be truly remembered decades and decades later is you either gotta be great or you gotta be horrible. Say what you want on Ed Wood’s talents or lack of, but the guy did something right to remembered all these years later even if not remembered for the right reasons. Plan 9 from Outer Space for better or worse is Ed Wood’s legacy and this film can be labeled a disasterpiece and quite honestly I really love Plan 9. Sure it’s hack filmmaking 101, but when I think of films I would label worst film the one thing they all have in common is they are boring and that’s one thing Plan 9 isn’t. From the opening to closing, Ed Wood makes one hell of a fun film and its easily one of my favorite cult films.

More often than not fans of cult cinema label this the worst film, but I disagree. From a filmmaking side of things no Plan 9 isn’t well made by any stretch of the imagination, but can anybody really say such films as Zombie Lake and the Last Slumber Party are better made? I greatly enjoy both of those films and in the case of Zombie Lake director Jean Rollin actually made some very good films. But regardless as much as I enjoy Zombie Lake and Last Slumber Party there is no way anyone can with a straight face say they’re better made than Plan 9 from Outer Space. However with that said there is a good reason why Plan 9 is sometimes dubbed the worst film. The film is a collection of some truly bizarre scenes and dialogue and all this mixed together makes for one of the ultimate so bad it’s good movies and actually this film would inspire the Fred Dekker cult classic Night of the Creeps. I often wonder though if Ed Wood set out to make the film exactly as it turned out. While we’re all laughing at how bad of a filmmaker he was perhaps the joke was all on us? Odds are that isn’t the case, but I can’t help but wonder if the joke was all on us. But I suppose I might be giving Ed Wood a little too much credit.

Aliens are invading earth and raising the dead to stop Earth from developing a powerful bomb called the Solobonite that could threaten the entire universe.

The screenplay by Ed Wood is so entertainingly horrible; from a plot standpoint Plan 9 from Outer Space is all over the place. Ed Wood just takes a bunch of ideas and packages them together. Besides the plot being all over the place, things are made even funnier by the attempts at social commentary in the final act. I simply love the screenplay even if not for the right reasons. If you wanna write an off the wall cult film this is the script to draw influence from. I don’t think somebody could write a film like this on purpose; from time to time it does work, but more often than not it feels forced and that’s what makes Ed Wood’s script so great is this wasn’t intentional, he wasn’t trying to write an awesomely bad screenplay. The characters are complete idiots who always say the dumbest things as the dialogue can at times be hysterical and is comedic gold. Here’s a sample;

Lieutenant John Harper: But one thing’s sure. Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody’s responsible.

Paula Trent: I’ve never seen you in this mood before.

Jeff Trent: I guess that’s because I’ve never been in this mood before.

Paula Trent: …A flying saucer? You mean the kind from up there?

Jeff Trent: Yeah, either that or its counterpart.

Air Force Captain: Visits? That would indicate visitors.

Gravedigger: You hear anything?

Gravedigger: Thought I did.

Gravedigger: Don’t like hearing noises, especially when there ain’t supposed to be any.

Lieutenant John Harper: Kelton, Get down there and check it out?

Patrolman Kelton: Well, how do I do that sir?

Lieutenant John Harper: By going down there and checking it out!

As director Ed Wood crafts a bad film for the ages. Say what you want about the man as a director, but his films weren’t boring. They were hack jobs for sure, but they were more often than not a blast to watch. The pacing of the film is great as there is never a slow moment to be found. From the opening to closing there’s something always really funny from bad dialogue, idiotic choices made by the characters, goofs, stock shots, random shots of Bela Lugosi that add nothing to the plot, Tom Mason standing in for Lugosi than next shot using Bela Lugosi. It really isn’t difficult to see why the film and Ed Wood are labeled the worst and while perhaps this wasn’t Ed Wood’s intentions, but Plan 9 is comedic gold. This easily rates as one of the funniest and most fun films I ever had the pleasure of watching. Wood actually does attempt to create suspense and an eerie tone and obviously he’s never very successful at that, but he does create a really fun tone. Like I said before say what you want about Ed Wood, but his films are often fun with none more fun than Plan 9 from Outer Space and I can name many films that are equally as poorly made with some being complete bores something this film never was. You have to take into account also the guy had zero money to make his films and that isn’t an excuse since there have been many filmmakers working with very little money that delivered truly brilliant films, but I guess my point is I’ve seen films produced on a far larger budget than Plan 9 with filmmaking just as bad and they lacked the fun factor Plan 9 and other Ed Wood movies had.

As for Bela Lugosi, apparently Ed Wood with no script in mind got some shots of Lugosi and after his death, Ed Wood wrote Plan 9 around the footage he shot with Lugosi and inserted it into the film despite the fact it really has nothing to really do with the plot. Tom Mason was Ed Wood’s wife’s chiropractor and played the scenes of Lugosi’s character with the cape draped over his face. It’s painfully obvious that it isn’t Lugosi even with Mason covering his face and he’s also taller than Lugosi. Sometimes we see Mason with the cape over his face than a cut to something else and than a shot of Lugosi edited in. Besides being hysterical due to the fact we can tell the difference between Tom Mason and Bela Lugosi, but also because the footage of Lugosi doesn’t really fit and its quite clear these scenes were for another project. Sadly Plan 9 from Outer Space was the very last film with Bela Lugosi and Bride of the Monster also by Ed Wood was actually his last speaking role in a film. Some felt Ed Wood took advantage of an old drug addicted Bela Lugosi whereas others say Ed Wood genuinely cared for Lugosi and was just trying to help him and while I really don’t know a whole lot about their relationship I’d say it was perhaps a little bit of both. As much as I enjoy the films of Ed Wood I do feel sorry for Bela Lugosi who was such a terrific actor and Plan 9 as fun as it turned out was a far cry from Dracula.

Overall Plan 9 from Outer Space is such a fun film; from the silly dialogue, incoherent plot, stock shots and the poor acting help make this one of the best so bad it’s good films and make it one of the ultimate cult classics. Ed Wood may be labeled the worst, but I am a fan of his work and Plan 9 from Outer Space is for better or worse his best film.

Plan 9 from Outer Space was released by Legend Films on blu-ray in 2012, which was 53-years after its original theatrical release. Legend Films are known for colorizing black & white movies, while also including the original B/W version. The video is strong and the best the film has looked on home video. Print damage is visible and while the video is quite strong considering the age and low budget origins I think you could get the same results on a strong DVD transfer, which isn’t a knock since Legend Films can only put in so much money. They put a lot of care into the film and again while it looked good I still think a strong DVD transfer could bring about the same results. Surprisingly the audio is actually pretty good and while not great it was far better than expected. As for the color version while I guess it looks good for the most part, but at times does in my opinion had an unnatural look. Of all the colorized versions by Legend Films I never watched any from beginning to end, but Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster and Last Man on Earth looked fairly good (though much better in the natural B/W), but in my opinion the colorized version of Plan 9 is the weakest of the three, but does have its moments, but you’re better off with the original B/W version.















Bride of the Monster (1956) Review

Posted in Bride of the Monster with tags , , , on August 22, 2013 by Last Road Reviews


*** Out of 5

Tagline- It’ll Make Your Skin Crawl

Release Date- February, 1956

Running Time- 69-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Edward D. Wood Jr. & Alex Gordon

Director- Edward D. Wood Jr.

Starring- Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Tony McCoy, Loretta King

For fans of cult cinema the name Ed Wood is quite infamous for being dubbed the worst filmmaker and while Ed Wood will never be mistaken for Martin Scorsese, Wood is hardly the worst filmmaker of all time. There is no doubt his movies can’t be called good in the traditional sense and yes they are a hack job, but no more than your average low budget film of the 50s. At the very least Wood’s films can provide some fun and for me that takes the title of worst filmmaker away from him. Released in 1956 Bride of the Monster is another schlock film by Wood, which stars Bela Lugosi in his last speaking role. After this film he would appear in The Black Sleep and Wood’s disasterpiece Plan 9 from Outer Space. Bride of the Monster would actually have some success and be the only film upon its release that made a profit for Ed Wood.

Dr. Dr. Eric Vornoff (Lugosi) is conducting experiments turning people into monsters through use of atomic power and a reporter Janet Lawton (King) decides to look more into the disappearances around the area and soon finds herself abducted by Vornoff.

The screenplay by Edward D. Wood Jr. & Alex Gordon is a lot of fun filled with silly dialogue and characters. The plotting is weak, but with that said the script works purely on the camp factor. While many will laugh at the script and understandably so, but when you really break it down its no worse than other schlock films of the 50s and had this screenplay been written a decade earlier would have fit in perfectly with Poverty Row.

As director Ed Wood crafts a silly, but somewhat fun film as well. After being dubbed the worst filmmaker people have ran with that status, but filmmakers like Ulli Lommel with such films as BTK Killer and Curse of the Zodiac are far worse in terms of both quality of the films from a technical side. Even films by Bruno Mattei & Claudio Fragasso are on the same level of Wood and even lesser quality at times. Some people label Ed Wood a poor filmmaker due to the goofs, but one of my all time favorite films John Carpenter’s Halloween has a ton of goofs and Halloween is by no means a poor film. Bride of the Monster like all of Ed Wood’s films are super low budget and time is money and Wood had neither. In Ed Wood’s defense he simply does the best he could on very limited funds and the guy had a passion for filmmaking and Bride of the Monster is a fun film and while the pacing can be sluggish in spots the film always retains a fun and campy tone. While the reputation the film has is warranted, but from a filmmaking side it really isn’t any worse than other low budget films of its era. If anything I admire Ed Wood; he had a passion for what he did and he made his films outside the Hollywood system with very little money and while now Ed Wood has a cult status at the time he was making films he was pretty much going unnoticed, but yet still continued on.

One has to feel for Bela Lugosi who was so far removed from Dracula. Anyone that followed his career knows how it all went downhill after Dracula and while he made a few Hollywood pictures he was in the shadow of Boris Karloff, than mostly did films for Poverty Row. When he had a Hollywood film he may not even have any dialogue (the Body Snatcher). But by this point his career had sunk so low and the infamous scene which he gets attacked by a rubber octopus while funny also really sad to see Lugosi reduced to this kind of role. However with that said Lugosi actually provides a very good performance and gives the production a touch of class. When you have such silly things to say its difficult to give a good performance, but Lugosi pulls it off and it isn’t Dracula or anything, but it was a fine performance by a man who took his job very seriously.

Overall Bride of the Monster is a fun B-Movie that’s high on camp, but also a bit forgettable as well. Don’t expect anything like Plan 9 from Outer Space, which is the film that really gave Ed Wood his status as the worst. Bride of the Monster isn’t a well made film by any means though its not quite the hack job one might expect. Bride of the Monster again isn’t any worse made than most low budget films from the era. This isn’t nearly as fun as Plan 9, but for those into schlock cinema Bride of the Monster should fit the bill.

Bride of the Monster was released in 2008 on DVD by Legend Films a company that specializes in colorized versions. Among their other titles are Last Man on Earth, House on Haunted Hill, Night of the Living Dead and Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space (blu-ray). However fear not all these films including Bride of the Monster also come in their original black and white release. It’s interesting seeing this (and others) in color and while they actually don’t look bad I always stick with the black & white and Legend Films actually deliver a fairly good transfer for Bride of the Monster.