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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 2/4/00

The Films of Ed Wood on DVD

reviews by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Glen or Glenda?

Glen or Glenda?
The Wade Williams Collection - 1953 (2000) - Corinth Films (Image)

Film Rating: B+ (on the Ed Wood scale)

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/C

Specs and Features:

68 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: none

Jail Bait

Jail Bait
The Wade Williams Collection - 1954 (2000) - Corinth Films (Image)

Film Rating: C (on the Ed Wood scale)

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/C

Specs and Features:

71 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (12 chapters), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: none

Bride of the Monster

Bride of the Monster
The Wade Williams Collection - 1955 (2000) - Corinth Films (Image)

Film Rating: A- (on the Ed Wood scale)

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/B/C

Specs and Features:

69 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (12 chapters), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: none

Plan 9 From Outer Space

Plan 9 From Outer Space
The Wade Williams Collection - 1956 (2000) - Corinth Films (Image)

Film Rating: A+ (on the Ed Wood scale)

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/B+

Specs and Features:

78 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Snapper case packaging, documentary Flying Over Hollywood: The Plan 9 Companion, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD mono), subtitles: none

What can be said about the films made by Edward D. Wood, Jr. that hasn't already been said? He's been called a vile opportunist, an untalented hack and a transvestite. Only one of those is correct... and anyone who has even a faint interest in Wood (or has seen the Tim Burton biopic about his relationship with Bela Lugosi) already knows which one it is. It won't do me any good at this point to spout off what I know about Wood, his life or his obvious love of filmmaking. Too many people have said it better. If you'd like to learn about him, the best thing you can do is pick up a very compelling book published by Feral House, entitled Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. by Rudolph Grey. Although it's a biography, it's also an oral history told by the people who knew Wood best. Even if you don't like Wood's films, this is a very funny (and at times heart-wrenching) look inside the mind of a man who just wanted to make entertaining movies. And in that, I think, he was a complete success.

Say what you want about the films of Ed Wood, but you always have a good time watching them. Yes... they are bad. Yes... the dialogue is circular and often repeats itself. And boy were the special effects bad. But that's really part of their charm. I'm sure Wood never meant them to be as funny as they are, and his goal in making these films was probably somewhat loftier. But his movies are funny as hell.

Glen or Glenda?

"Bevare! Bevare of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep. He eats little boys, puppy dog tails, and big fat snails. Bevare. Take care. Bevare!"

What was originally supposed to be an exploitation/mockumentary film about one of the first known transsexuals (Christine Jorgensen), soon became this whacked-out epic about man's constant struggle against the accusatory glance. The story (if we can call it that) follows a police inspector (Lyle Talbot) trying to come to grips with a young transvestite's apparent suicide due to public discrimination. Confused (and wanting to learn more to enable him to help others with this condition), Inspector Warren meets with psychologist Dr. Alton (Tim Farrell), who explains the difference between transsexuals and transvestites and goes into their hardships. The story he spins to illustrate transvestism, is one of Glen and his alter ego Glenda (played by Ed Wood, billed as Daniel Davis). Glen is engaged to Barbara (Dolores Fuller) and he's all man... except that he's just got a thing for angora and wigs. Glen dresses as a girl because that's how his mother treated him (much like Ed in real life). Meanwhile, Bela Lugosi pops up in a surreal bit as (what I would assume is) God. He creates Man and let's them loose while he "pulls the string" as the ultimate puppet master. The Devil also makes an appearance, to make Glen suffer and force him to deal with the discrimination he will inevitably face in the world. It's wild, it's wacky and if you have a taste for odd films, this one fits the bill. Is Glen or Glenda? bad? No... I wouldn't say it's bad. It's certainly not good, and it takes itself way too seriously for it's own good (its major fault). But it IS an entertaining way to kill about 70 minutes of your life.

This DVD from Image looks about as good as you'll ever see this movie. The source material was pretty badly flawed, and is missing a few frames here and there so that it jumps from time to time. The Dolby Digital mono track is scratchy at times and has minor hiss. But again, these are all source issues. Still, Image has done a wonderful job of preserving this film. I've seen many a version of this flick, and this is definitely the best quality I've ever had the pleasure to feast my eyes upon. There's hardly any grain -- it's a smooth and lively picture that is pretty watchable. Throw in a fun (but horribly preserved) trailer and you have a definite keeper on disc.

Jail Bait

"This afternoon we had a long telephone conversation earlier in the day."

The above quote perfectly sums up the ineptitude of this film. Jail Bait is best described as a morality tale on the dangers of owning a gun. According to the film, guns are like drugs that make you want to hold them. And when you do, you MUST commit a crime. Dolores Fuller is the sister of a guy addicted to the gun, and Lyle Talbot is the cop who sacrifices himself to save one more kid form the appeal of the trigger. A hold-up goes wrong, people die, a slow movie car chase (with all traffic laws still taken into consideration) ensues, and a neat little twist ending wraps the whole thing up. The film comes off overall like really bad community theater, with some of the worst acting ever to pop up in an Ed Wood film. But, as is with most Wood films, it's such a curiosity piece that you can't help "enjoying" it while you watch it. It's not all that bad, and when you get to the end, the twist is enough to make it worth sitting through. Also appearing is Steve "Hercules" Reeves in his first film, and Vogue model-turned-actress Theodora Thurman as the bad guy's girl.

This DVD features another great transfer of a flawed source. This one isn't as crisp as Glen or Glenda?, but it still looks nice. Jail Bait offers a standard Dolby Digital mono track and a trailer.

Bride of the Monster

"One is always considered mad, if one discovers something that others cannot grasp!"

Deep in the swamp, a mad scientist (Bela Lugosi) is hard at work. His experiments have brought him closer to creating a race of super humans, who will do his bidding and take over the world. The only problem is, all of his test subjects keep dying. Oh, well. There are more than enough foolish men out there to keep him busy -- and to feed his monster squid lying at the bottom of the swamp. When attractive reporter Janet Lawton (Loretta King) stumbles upon the scene, things can't be good... especially when an angora fetishist/radiation monster named Lobo (Tor Johnson) is involved.

Wow. This one is bad. It's almost as structurally bad as Plan 9 (but not quite). You have circular dialogue, bad, bad, bad (did I say bad?) acting from just about everyone in the film (except maybe the rubber squid) and laughable sets. Still, it's really not fair to kick a guy when he's down, so I'll forgive the film's setbacks and praise it as being probably one of the most enjoyable of the Ed Wood films. You'll definitely laugh at this one, and that's a good thing.

The DVD is really good too. Image did a first-rate job with this one. I don't know where they found the source, but this one is virtually flawless. It's a super-clean transfer of a super-mint print. There are no rips, specks or scratches hardly anywhere. And the mono track sounds good as well. Also included for your enjoyment is a trailer for the film and animated menus. Fans of Bride of the Monster and Ed Wood simply must own this one. Image should be proud.

Plan 9 From Outer Space

"Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future."

Did Ed ever proofread his scripts? Probably not. Well kids, here it is... the Edward D. Wood, Jr. holy grail -- Plan 9 From Outer Space. It comes complete with nonsensical dialogue, bad sets and slap-dash footage of Bela Lugosi. The story goes like this: a car hits an old man (Lugosi) right after he buries his wife (Vampira). Around that same time, a UFO comes to Earth to destroy us using Plan 9 (reanimating our dead), because we are close to discovering a means of destroying the universe ourselves. Our heroes, Jeff and Paula Trent (Gregory Walcott and Mona McKinnon), are an airline pilot and his wife. Can they protect us from a passionate alien, his female assistant and their leader? Do they dare battle Vampira, Bela's stand-in and the reanimated Inspector Clay (Tor Johnson)? You bet your asteroids.

This film is a classic in any way shape or form. I actually love this movie, and have since I was a kid. I loved it way before I started reading film books, explaining that this film is a dud. It's just so bad, that it HAS to be good (and good for you!). And with this DVD, you get to find out why. Not only is it a well done, with great sound and video quality, but it also serves as a time capsule of sorts. It includes a well done documentary about the history of the film and it's impact on pop culture. The Plan 9 Companion is as funny as it is informative, and people who love this film really owe it to themselves to see this gem of a documentary. What better way to do that than on DVD?

This new Ed Wood DVD collection from Image truly honors the man that made these movies we all love to watch, laugh at and dissect. The problem is, these DVDs end up making these movies look better than they really should. It's almost the mark of a Ed Wood fan to sit back and watch a crappy dub of his worst films. These discs lift up and preserve these film almost to the point of art. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. It's not. Wood's films ARE art, and I'm glad to own them in my favorite format. You just have to wonder about how big the DVD format is becoming, when you have Plan 9 on disc.

This is just a great time to be a DVD fan. Get these discs before they get you!

Todd Doogan

Glen or Glenda?

Jail Bait

Bride of the Monster

Plan 9 from Outer Space

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