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“Oh what do you know. Haven’t you heard of suspension of disbelief?” Edward D. Wood Jr. (Johnny Depp) thinks he knows what the true craft of movie making is. Released in 1994, Tim Burton’s Ed Wood tells the story of a true underdog. A young man looking to carve out his place as a Hollywood filmmaker. Trouble is… he’s terrible at it. His scripts are incoherent. The sets are made of cardboard. And he can’t construct a shot to save his life. But he’s got one thing that all the other cheap guys don’t have: heart. And doesn’t that makeup for a complete lack of talent?
Decades of Horror 1990s
Episode 16 — Ed Wood (1994)
Despite winning two Oscars, Ed Wood didn’t set the world on fire in 1994. Coming after Tim Burton’s controversial Batman Returns, Ed Wood felt like a major departure for the director. After making big splashes with genre-driven films like Edward Scissorhands or Batman, a dramedy biopic about the man responsible for Plan 9 from Outer Space seemed like a sudden turn. Yet, there’s a lot of Burton’s usual subject matter here. Ed Wood is a very much the misunderstood loner protagonist Burton relates to, finding solace in a weird group of friends. There’s socialite actor Bunny Breckinridge (Bill Murray), TV psychic showman Criswell (Jeffrey Jones) and barely intelligible wrestler Tor Johnson (George “The Animal” Steele). However, the strongest connection is with washed up monster icon Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau). Lugosi becomes a mentor of sorts for Ed, as Ed helps him cope with addiction and depression. A beautiful friendship that resulted in gloriously bad cinema.
To delve into all of this, Thomas Mariani enlists the help of Kaycee Jarrard. A fellow podcaster and writer, Kaycee shares a love for the old school Universal Monsters with Thomas. Naturally, Ed Wood became the must-cover topic. Sure, it isn’t a horror film, but it’s tied to centrally to both horror history and the nature of horror fandom. The group of misfits Ed Wood buddies up with are reminiscent of the type of lovable oddballs you find in the horror fan community. Kaycee and Thomas also discuss the lack of need for factual basis in a biopic, how much they miss Johnny Depp trying and how true this is to Tim Burton’s directorial spirit. Well, at least more than a live action Dumbo probably will.
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The intro and outro is “Suck City” by Black Math. Look for more of their music via Free Music Archive.
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