#166 Ed Wood: The Softcore Years

A quirky tribute to a gloriously untalented filmmaker, it would be easy to look at Ed Wood as a sort of early 90s precursor to The Disaster Artist. However, while the films have superficial similarities, Tim Burton’s Oscar-winning film is somehow both more affectionate and less reverent than James Franco’s movie.

In The Disaster Artist, the character of Tommy Wiseau is treated with some sympathy, but ultimately he remains an enigma, his mysterious past and carefully protected persona making it almost impossible to get a handle on the man at the heart of it all. As played by Johnny Depp, Ed Wood is certainly a complicated person in many ways, but at the heart of his character, he’s just a man who’s in love with the act of filmmaking – no matter how talentless at it he might actually be.

This sense of Wood as a classic dreamer whose reach profoundly exceeded his grasp gives Depp plenty to work for, and it allows him to be the genuine hero of the movie, as opposed to just the punchline. Burton’s sincere love of campy 1950s b-movies shines through – he essentially made one of his own for his next project – but he never loses sight of Ed Wood’s essential humanity underneath the crooked wigs and angora sweaters.

The film follows Wood during the height of his filmmaking career, when he wrote and directed the majority of his future cult classics including Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Atom and, of course, Plan 9 From Outer Space. But what happened during his later years?

A little research indicates that Wood continued to make movies after Plan 9, though it seems the muse sadly deserted him, and his later career mostly consisted of thinly-veiled softcore porn flicks with titles like Necromania! Revenge of the Virgins and Orgy of the Dead.

On this week’s podcast, we attempt to pick up where Burton’s movie drew a discreet veil, by taking a look at some of Ed Wood’s later career highlights and trying to guess from the titles what the plot might have looked like.

We’ve also got all our regular features to look forward to, including Ed Wood drinking games and some one-liner sequel pitches from our loyal listeners. Can any of them match the restless creative vision of the real Wood? We’ll let you be the judge of that…

Next week, we’re heading over to Netflix for a lockdown-inspired blind watch of a future cult classic that we barely know anything about. Until then, stay safe, happy listening and remember; future events such as these may affect you, in the future…