Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ed Woodian Adventure

I was browsing the web the other day, looking at some writing sites, and I came across a page requesting submissions for a very unusual anthology. No doubt some of you have heard of the infamous Plan Nine From Outer Space, Ed Wood’s master opus that is considered by many to be the worst film ever made. Well, this anthology posits "what were the first eight plans?" And the ‘plan’ is to publish eight short stories that tell us just that.

Goodness, but I was drooling at the prospect of writing one of these stories. I grew up watching campy, grade-B, low budget sci fi movies on late night television, and even though I outgrew them, I still find their unintentional hilarity to be quite charming. I feel the same about Ed Wood’s movies.

Yes, they are bad. The acting is bad. The scripts are bad. The ‘special effects’ are bad. But behind all the badness there is an earnest zeal and love of film, particularly genre film, that shows through and gives Wood’s movies a little something extra. Wood wasn’t just out to make a buck. He considered himself an artist.

I can say this with authority today, as over the last couple of days I have watched almost every Ed Wood film in preparation for writing the story. (Most have fallen into public domain, and as such are available free on sites like YouTube) I watched Plan Nine, of course, and the infamous Glen or Glenda, Wood’s treatise on transvestitism (he was one himself); as well as Jail Bait (a gangster drama) Bride of the Monster (also known by it’s even more charming title, Bride of the Atom), Night of the Ghouls (the sequel to Bride), The Sinister Urge (a crime drama about the evils of pornography...ironic since wood fell into making soft core porn in his latter years) and a few documentaries and of course Tim Burton’s wonderful biopic, Ed Wood.

A mind warping experience? A bit. But also a gold mine of material to grind up, sift through and regurgitate into a story that I hope will feel like it was written by the great Edward D. Wood Jr. himself. With perhaps an homage or two to a few other particularly bad fifties movies.

There must be monsters, and space men, and ray guns, and cops and gangsters. These were all Ed Wood staples. Also prominent were pretty girls in danger, mad scientists, and dour military men. Wood also relied heavily on the use of stock footage in his films. Perhaps this will translate into some random exposition in the story. Oh, and we’ll have to throw in a transvestite or two. Eddie would have wanted it that way.

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