The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, October 13, 1994 - 7
Ed Wood: A look at a
By SCOTT PLAGENHOEF
"The Worst Director of All-time"
is not an auspicious or desirable title:
unless you're Ed Wood. If Wood were
allowed to have basked in his faux
recognition he would have with pride
rather than shame, reminding anyone
do listened how he created the worst
rary of films ever-by himself.
Edward D. Wood Jr. wrote, di-
rected and produced a series of films
so bad they are wholly enjoyable. The
process of filmaking and creating
impressed Wood more than the fin-
ished product and as a result he could
only solicit a who's-who of misfits
and loyal friends as cast and crew.
Cheesy television "seer" Criswell,
*e-night horror flick host Vampira,
Swedish wrestler "Tor" Johnson, and
most notably a drug-addled Bela
Iugosi populated his sets and his
films. Films so bad that they were
barely distributed in Wood's lifetime.
Films so bad that they inspired the
titles to countless early Misfits songs.'
Films so bad that in a country that
celebrates kitsch as much as quality,
where the worst possible of ideas turn
out to be the most popular product
(pet rocks, KISS, "Home Alone"),
they are still watched with alternate
feelings of adoration and embarrass-
ment for their creator.
Oh, and by the way, if Wood wasn't
eccentric enough, to relax he enjoyed
dressing women's clothing, having a
part icular place in his heart and on his
body for angora sweaters.
This fall as Tim Burton, who has
made a career with highly visual trib-
utes to characters on the fringe (Pee-
Wee Herman, Beetlejuice, Edward
Scissorhands, Batman) unleashes his
fantastic biopic, "Ed Wood," the worst
director of all time is poised to be-
come a household name.
Wood began his film career star-
ring in his own scripted, directed and
produced film "Glen or Glenda?" The
picture was part-documentary, part-
melodrama, and almost fully auto-
biographical film about a transvestite
coming to grips with his peculiarities.
The film also began Wood's working
relationship with Lugosi, featuring
him sitting in a chair spouting off
nonsense for no practical reason.
Wood would later go on to create
the girl-gang exploitation flick "The
Violent Years," Lugosi starring as a
mad scientist in "Bride of the Mon-
ster," and crime film "Jail Bait" be-
fore directing the cinema's worst film
ever, "Plan 9 from Outer Space."
"Plan 9" is the story of a group of
aliens who come to earth to dig up
graves and create zombies to rule the
planet. Unforgettably poor, yet at the
same time unforgettable, "Plan 9" is a
true cinematic experience in medioc-
rity and schlock.
A true independent in filmaking,
Wood's work had no production value
and no budget. More than any other
director, Wood was left to finance his
own products. The result was terrible
cinema but Wood accomplished what
very few directors, from Orson Welles
to Marty Scorsese, ever do, he had
complete and autonomous control
over his products. Wood was satis-
fied with the cardboard sets and the
abysmal acting because it was his
product, his vision, and no one else's.
Ed Wood will now, thanks to Tim
Burton, get the recognition and the
attention that he never deserved as a
filmaker, but he did and still does as
an independent, a creator and a doer
of things for the love of them and for
his own personal gratification, rather
than financial or critical reward.
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Continued from page 1
cian Henry Renyolds. To recreate the
painting in Act One, the show re-
quires three scrims: one of the fin-
ished painting and two partially-fin-
ished paintings. To save time and
ney, production manager Mark
wllivan managed to track down and
rent the original Broadway drops.
However, the entire show requires a
huge amount of pointillist painting,
the task of which went to Susan
Crabtree, the head of the Power Cen-
ter scene shop.
"We paint everything over at the
Power shop and bring it over to the
Mendelssohn and install it, so all of
a things you see here were painted
in our theater shop; they were fabri-
cated, painted, given a finished coat
and then brought here and assembled,"
Crabtree explained. "But when you
assemble anything there are little
d iks, first of all which happen when
you move in and then things that just
don't line up or aren't quite as people
anticipated they would look when they
ot on stage, so we have to fix them."
She stops painting for a moment,
wrinkles her nose at the soldier she is
touching up, and resumes painting.
"This is one of the things we didn't
anticipate would look like this."
Crabtree was presented with
Renschler's designs in the form of
blueprints. "All of this was originally
Continued from page 5
His first six films all have had unreal-
ity as a basis for him to create a form
of reality around the lead character's
passion. "The Nightmare Before
Christmas" is a shining example of
Burton's ability to create such a thing.
*s seventh film, "Ed Wood", is based
on real life stuff. One has to wonder
how much of a real life fairy tale Ed is,
but the passion remains the same.
on architectural blue-lines. The shop
built it according to the designer's
instructions, and then we got what are
called paint elevations, and then we
painted them according to the
designer's instructions," she ex-
The painters followed Renschler's
elevations regarding where things go
and how they are shaped, but they
referred to the actual painting to spe-
cifics, i.e. painting Seurat's dots. "We
followed the painting to get as close
and specific to the original work as
we could, but still keep it theatrical
and keep it broad. If we made the dots
as small as Seurat made his dots, no
one would see them, so our dots had
to be bigger," Crabtree explained.
She holds up a dishwashing brush
- one of those sponges with a short
handle and numerous french-fry
shaped sponges on the end - which
was used to make dots. "I went to
Meijer's Thrifty Acre's where
America goes to shon for vaht " chp
laughed. They also used foam rollers
that were cut up with dots on them.
As far as the color scheme, again
they stayed as close as possible to
Seurat's color palette, making occa-
sional adjustments for theatricality's
sake. "Seurat worked with a palette
that he believed was a scientifically
correct palette. It was a combination
of the primary (red, yellow and blue),
the secondary (orange, green and
purple) and the tertiary palette, which
is a combination or mixing of all
those colors (yellow green, orange-
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