- Special Edition
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Date: October 19, 2004
Review posted: October 27, 2004
Gregory L. Amato
you ever saw? Well my next one will be better. Hello? Hello?”
D. Wood, Jr.
Ed Wood (Johnny Depp,
Pirates of the Caribbean) the worst
director of all time, seeks to realize his dreams of making movies his
own way. He befriends a washed-up Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau,
Rounders) among a slew of other
eccentrics who end up working for him, including a massive Swedish
wrestler, a goth icon, and a fortune teller with a less than stellar
record of success. Oh, and Wood is also a transvestite. Landau won
both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his role as the aged Bela Lugosi.
Ed Wood’s films
were beyond bad, and way beyond campy. Voted the worst director of
all time in 1980 by Michael and Harry Medved in their book “The Golden
Turkey Awards,” his film Plan 9 from Outer Space was voted the
worst film ever made. Some disagree about these distinctions given
Wood’s, ahem, consistent style, and the filmmakers approach his biopic
with the same humorous passion that Wood put into his own films.
It’s hard not to identify with Wood at least a
little. He may be weird, naďve, and unreliable, but he’s following
his dreams with an admirable tenacity even though he faces rejection
around every corner. Without making a mockery of the man or his life,
director Tim Burton (Big
Fish) still manages to keep the two
hour-plus film light on its toes. Whether Bela Lugosi did or did not
swear as much as he is portrayed to in Ed Wood, it’s still a
great line when he calls Boris Karloff a “limey cocksucker.”
performance is so convincing that I sometimes found myself forgetting
it was the actor and not Lugosi himself. Depp also does an excellent
job, but Landau’s scene where he repeats Lugosi’s famous Dracula
line, “I never drink . . . wine . . .” is unforgettable.
For as many films
as Wood had written and directed though, we really only get a glimpse
of three, spanning less than ten years of his career. Glen or
Glenda details Woods’ explorations of cross-dressing, with a
bizarre part for Lugosi to play. Bride of the Monster includes
some interesting improvisation with a rubber octopus, and Plan 9
from Outer Space features Lugosi’s final role (part of which was
played by Dr. Tom Mason, whose face was covered).
At Plan 9’s
premier, Wood feels as though he’s at the pinnacle of his career, and
that it will be Plan 9 that he is remembered for. Though
Plan 9 is considered the “height” of his awful career, he was
remembered for more than that. Since being voted the worst director
of all time, Wood’s work is much more popular now than when he was
is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film doesn’t suffer
from being shot in black and white, as contrast levels nicely define
everything from costumes to sets. The picture is clear and sharp,
without so many noticeable halos.
is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. All the nuances of
Landau’s accent are perfectly clear, and composer Howard Shore did a
great job on the film’s score to give it just the right mood.
Numerous extras are
included in the special edition disc. First off is a music video
(3:29)to the tune of composer Howard Shore’s music. The busty Lisa
Marie does some sexy dancing for us, interspersed with audio and video
from the film itself.
Let’s Shoot this
(13:55) gives behind the scenes looks at the shooting of two of
the scenes in the film: The graveyard scene from Plan 9 and
the octopus scene from Bride of the Monster. Johnny Depp hosts
the featurette in drag, and we get to see Tim Burton at work.
instrument used in Shore’s score is given its due in The Theremin
(7:25). We get a bit of background on it, but the best part is
the demonstration. Yes, this is the thing that makes those
other-worldly tones during the beginning of the film.
(8:15) is commentary from Martin Landau and makeup artist Rick Baker
on how they recreated Bela Lugosi. Landau’s approach in trying to
play a man with a Hungarian accent who was trying not to have a
Hungarian accent is interesting, and by all accounts he pulled it
off. Baker’s work should not be underrated however, as he did an
excellent job of changing Landau’s face to look like Lugosi’s. No
surprise that he was on the team (also including Ve Neill and Yolanda
Toussieng) that won Ed Wood an Oscar for best makeup.
Pie Plates Over
(13:51) is about the production design of the film, including
everything from the wallpapers to the props used. Production designer
Tom Duffield has a lot to say about what was apparently a very intense
project for him.
scenes (7:41) are included, most notably a great scene between Bela and
Ed and a musical scene with Bill Murray singing “Que Sera Sera” with a
substantial extra is the audio commentary by—hold your
breath—Tim Burton, Martin Landau, co-writers Larry Karaszewski and
Scott Alexander, director of photography Stefan Czapsky, and costume
designer Colleen Atwood. Obviously there is little quiet time with so
many people in the mix, and it seems like fewer commentators might
have been better. The most interesting commentary concerns the
history of the characters in the film, including whether Bela Lugosi
really acted the way he did in his old age.
theatrical trailer (2:18) is also included.
There is also one
Easter Egg on the DVD: In the extras menu, go to the Deleted
Scenes section and highlight “Que Sera Sera.” This will highlight a
bolt of lightning that can be selected to show a two-minute scene
between Wood and Lugosi.
If a dramatic
comedy biopic about a transvestite director of awful films in the
1950s sounds appealing, go for it. It would be a stretch to say that
Ed Wood has much mass appeal, but for those interested in old,
extremely low-budget, schlock horror films, it’s a worthwhile biopic.
More than that, it’s an uplifting story about a man following doing
what he believes in… even though he isn’t any good at it.
Home | Back to