Tuesday, November 24, 2009

As Harmless as a Kitchen...

You knew I'd be getting to dear old Edward D. Wood, Jr, didn't you? Of course you did. So many reasons to love Ed, not the least of which is what is undoubtedly Tim Burton's best film Ed Wood, a loving homage and romantically fictionalized biopic of the inept director who gained fame (like so many others) only after he wasn't around to enjoy it anymore. Burton's film (and Johnny Depp's extraordinary performance) paints Wood as a cock-eyed optimist; a fast-talker who can fast-talk almost anyone into almost anything, because he believed what he was saying, himself. In reality, Wood was a fifth-rate, trannie hack who surrounded himself with people he was able to manipulate into helping him make terrible, terrible movies. And eventually, even they all went away, leaving Wood to a career finale of soft-core horror porn that is indescribably worse than any of his "legitimate" horror movies.

And while I may be talking about the schlockmeister himself, you'll be happy to learn that I will not be talking about Wood's infamous "Worst Movie Ever Made" (it's not, by the way -- trust me). That movie has been done to death and I have little new or interesting to say about it. No, tonight I'm talking about another equally inept Ed Wood horror movie, 1955's Bride of the Monster.

BOM is the the first Ed Wood movie that I actually can remember seeing. The name Ed Wood meant nothing at the time - I was maybe 8 or 10 - but the fact that starred Bela Lugosi was enough for me to watch it on the local Philly horror show, hosted by Dr. Shock.

Originally titled Bride of the Atom, the plot of BOM is insanely inane. Lugosi plays Dr. Vorloff, a mad genius who was exiled from his own country for war atrocities or some such thing. Now, living in the Florida Everglades, he has captured a dozen men in order to create a race of 'Atomic Supermen.' When a local reporter gets to close, she falls victim to Vorloff's madness. Wrestler Tor Johnson is Lobo, a mute Igor character who stumbles through the movie with the grace of a drunken rhinoceros. For some reason, Vorloff keeps a giant mutant octopus (I suppose the movie's titular Monster) in a pond next to his lab. When Vorloff's inevitable bad ending comes, it's simply Lugosi thrashing about in a shallow pond, trying to look like he's fighting a cheap, malfunctioning prop octopus, which he is.

This is the movie that gave Martin Landau that marvelous speech from Ed Wood (as well as a very funny re-creation of the octopus fight).

The end of the movie? Why, a mushroom cloud, of course. When Atomic Supermen and Atomic Octopi explode, there's always a mushroom cloud.

Painted cardboard sets, kitchen colanders as "electro-helmets" and supremely bad acting make this Edward D. Wood, Jr. movie so much funnier (and sadly, more pathetic) than Plan Nine. Oh, and this post's title? Lugosi has a line which was supposed to read :"Don't be afriad of Lobo. He's as harmless as a kitten." I don't know if it's the result of his morphine addiction, his thick Hungarian* accent or a flask of rut-gut, but I swear he says "harmless as a kitchen." BOM also features some of the worst dialogue Wood ever wrote (excluding the "Stupid Minds" line in Plan 9)

Four and a Half Drumsticks.

I'm getting closer to the Big Bad Movie Spectacular, you know when. And I'll give you a hint: the entire post will be devoted to the career of one director. Regular readers know the guys I hate/love/hate. And a bonus hint: This post puts Wood out of the running. Hmmm... that leaves maybe... oh, I don't know... three...? four...? Let me know who you think it is. The first correct answer (revealed as part of the BBMS) just might win something special (or a total piece of crap, depending on your perspective). Leave your guess in the comments.

More, anon.

*PS - I'm allowed to make fun - I'm Hungarian.

No comments: