Never has a bad filmmaker been so celebrated than Edward D. Wood, Jr. And regardless of how fun his films may be to watch, Ed Wood was terrible at making movies. The stories are ridiculously bad, the acting is terrible, the dialogue is a joke. They’re just plain bad.
But, somehow, they are really, really fun to watch.
Ed Wood is probably as terrific a film about the man that could possibly be made. And finally, after so many false starts and promised release dates, this classic homage to the most popular bad filmmaker in history has arrived on DVD.
Featuring the Oscar winning performance of Martin Landau, he alone makes this film worth watching. He does such a powerful and stunning job of bringing to life Bela Lugosi. Johnny Depp is also perfect as Ed Wood, both comical yet honest at the same time. Bill Murray’s supporting turn is pure gold, as well.
What was amazing about Ed Wood was how he managed to get so many people to work with him on his idiotic films. They’re strange, they’re terrible, but somehow they believed in him. And Wood’s enthusiasm for what he was doing, regardless of the quality of his work, was admirable. He really loved making movies, and his friends were pulled in by that love, and apparently would follow him anywhere — they’ve even get baptized!
The black and white visuals are presented with strong contrast. Tim Burton’s beautiful look for the film is preserved in this enhanced presentation. The unique soundtrack is in terrific surround sound. It’s the extras that leave a little to be desired.
First is the behind the scenes featurette, “Let’s Shoot This F#*%@r!”. Great title, and interesting to watch, but tells you nothing. Basically it is simply a collection of video shot on set during filming. But, there is no narration to tie it all together, no interviews. Nothing. And while it’s interesting to a point to watching Burton working with Johnny Depp and Martin Landau, you’re kind of left wondering — is this it?
The doc is bookended by Depp in his belly dancer outfit from the film. It’s pretty funny, and pretty much lets you know precisely what this featurette is — a featurette how Ed Wood may have directed it. It’s bad, in the sense that it is a completely uninformative behind the scene featurette. But, fun to watching, in that you’re seeing moments between Burton and his actors that viewers often don’t get to see.
“Pie Plates Over Hollywood” is slightly more revealing, if limited in its scope. The most intriguing documentary on the DVD is the one about the Theremin, the really cool instrument highlight in the film’s soundtrack. I’d never heard of the instrument, and watching it being used is just fascinating.
A music video featuring the movie’s main theme is quite definitely the strangest part of the DVD. Very much like something Wood may have directed, especially in his later, soft-core porn years. A dancer in a Vampira outfit dances around to the 50s-like beat music. It reminded me very much of Wood’s film, Glen or Glenda, which features a very strange dream sequence with a woman on a couch.
There is also a selection of deleted scenes, none of which really added much to the film, which explains why they were excised. Although one scene, in which you meet Tor’s family, is pretty funny. And is probably one of the few moments where we’re taken out of the strange world of Ed Wood and given an outsider’s perspective via Tor’s wife.
To learn anything of note about the film, you have to listen to the commentary. That’s where the real heart of the behind the scenes info can be found on the DVD. Featuring Burton, Landau, the writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski, director of photography Stefan Czapsky and costume designer Colleen Atwood.
At the end, Ed Wood is a touching love letter for a man who loved movies. It’s not important that his films were bad, Wood just loved making them.