Fragmented Films May 2010

The Ed D. Wood Jr Collection (Rocket) is a four disc opus from the most hilariously inept filmmaker ever. His stilted cyclical dialogue is confused and inane, a contorted poetic abuse of the English language. Yet somehow it’s compelling. He was an auteur of incompetence and unintentionally avant garde, conjuring up a new form of genius steeped in ineptitude.

Bride of The Monster is totally insane. Bela Lugosi abducts people and experiments on them to create a master race. It’s filled with these golden Woodian moments like a police chief who sits at his desk with a bird on his shoulder like he’s a pirate, the monster is a giant inanimate plastic octopus that requires the victims to thrash around wildly to give the pretext it’s moving, and the stilted climax is near incomprehensible. 1954’s Jailbait is a little disappointing, not only is it not about statutory rape, but it’s not as nuts as his other films. It is however brimming with golden quotes like ‘this afternoon we had a long conversation earlier in the day.” and “Carrying a gun can be dangerous business,” to the reply “so can building a skyscraper.” It’s film noir Wood style, with glaring plot holes and peculiar inappropriate guitar music. Then there’s the blackface comedy routine that’s spliced midway into the film for no apparent reason. Glen or Glenda is Wood at his best, a clunky ham fisted plea for tolerance for transvestism masquerading as an educational film with Wood himself playing both Glen and Glenda. Bela Lugosi pops up saying ridiculous things like ‘bevare of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep,’ which if you’re feeling generous may be a metaphor for homosexuality, or if you’re not, a cynical attempt to cash in on Lugosi’s fame. Midway through he splices in some half naked chicks cavorting burlesque style. Again for no apparent reason. But genius has never needed a reason, as demonstrated in his 1959 alien invasion masterpiece Plan 9 From Outer Space. Lugosi died prior to filming so Wood reused the same footage of Lugosi over and over and then got his chiropractor to play Lugosi’s role with his arm shielding his face, hoping the audience wouldn’t clue in. Voted the worst film of all time, it’s unintentionally hilarious, a bizarre z grade howler borne out of continuity errors, stilted acting and effects that are very very not special.

Both Jam and Tim and Eric Awesome Show could never have existed without Mr Mikes Mondo Video (Beyond). Made in 1979 by Michael O’ Donoghue and featuring a murder of fellow Saturday Night Live alumni like Bill Murray, it was a spoof of the sleazy exotic shocksploitation of Mondo Cane. Yet it was too dark and surreal for TV, apparently images of a bunch of cats thrown into swimming pools or beautiful women discussing how men who smell their fingers get them hot didn’t fly with the network. Genius.

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