Matt Gerson on "Ed Wood"
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Matt Gerson's "Angle on Movies"

Ed Wood

Notable: In the morning broadcast of this review, Matt mistakenly kept referring to Ed Wood's infamous masterpiece as Planet 9 From Outer Space. Some wiseacre obviously called in to correct him, because by the afternoon's airing of the same review, Matt had gone back to the tape and dubbed in the correct title in all four places he'd used it, giving the review a generic, gerry-rigged kind of feel: "...blah blah blah...[pause]...PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE...[pause]...blah blah blah..." A perfectly bizarre touch for a perfectly bizarre review from our hero Matt Gerson, the Ed Wood, Jr. of film critics.

Fun Activity: Count the number of times Matt uses the phrase "a tribute to"

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I'm Matt Gerson with 3 1/2 Angles for a tribute to that Sultan of Schlock, that Orson Welles of hand me down swap meet movies, Ed Wood, directed by Tim Burton, who gave shadow and dark a dimension of dementia all his own.

This hilarious study of movies on the run, one step ahead of the landlord and the law, bowing and scraping before every kooky weirdo backer with bucks and mediocre Jane-come-lately from back East he could find, starring Johnny Depp as Ed Wood, the creator of the masterpiece of schlock...PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE..., considered the worst movie ever made.

He had a Creatures from the Black Lagoon, wild offscreen life of catch-as-catch-can moods, opportunities lost, and friends only a B-movie maker could understand, plus an array of dresses and sweaters taken from shrewish girlfriend Dolores Fuller, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, that he used instead of booze to smooth out the edges of a transvestite-turned-mediocre-movie-meister par excellence.

Ed Wood is a tribute to every midnight movie that featured metal saucers turned into flying ones, flying on fishline air, dry ice smoke, cardboard sets, and an array of non-acting nincompoops, none of whom often had ever spoken a word of dialogue in their lives. The film is a tribute to the endless bad taste of seedy pickup movie never were and never wills that Ed Wood had a unique knack for slurping up from the soap operas of life. With his missing teeth and cross dressing for relaxation, he was a master of one take and who cares if they get through the door or not. Ed Wood made an art form out of non art and nonentities, as anyone who has watched the beyond Wooded into petrified dialogue of...PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE...knows in their heart. You sense each dollar was his last and each scene had that cardboard flimsiness and fly-by-night what-are-we-doing-here quality that only a group of total amateurs, nursing a special brand of mediocrity all their own, could muster, in film after film.

Ed Wood glories in Martin Landau's eerie animation of Bela Lugosi, surely an Oscar nomination turn. The thought dead vampire Dracula of our childhood memories now resurrected from a real life that is reduced to morphine addiction and cadaverous life as a nobody in his private life, twenty or more years lost to non-work, who, through Ed Wood, suddenly gets a new lease on DEATH! In the off-center triumphs of bad taste and tossed-out ideas, fulfilling the rank beginner in all of us. It's second hand filmmaking as no student film could ever master, and Landau delivers a strangely yes, haunting evocation of the bloodsucker from Transylvania, who had a lifelong hatred of Boris Karloff but didn't live to see the day that his costumes and movies outdid the "Limey Nonentity" he often groused over. Alas, Bela Lugosi dies just when...PLAN 9 FROM OUTER about to be hatched, with invasion by outer spacemen, grave robbers, undead rolling uneasily into our rolled-over-with-laughter consciousness, coming from the recesses of the Ed Wood mind of this maestro of mirthy muck, smoky slobbering sloughs of soul-escaping monstrosities, unearthly chiropractors as Dracula, with capes hiding their supposed resemblence to the in-the-coffin-for-good Bela Lugosi, to make...PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE...the Hamlet of hashed-out retreaded B movies, Gone With The Wind of the grotesque. Even Bill Murray manages to be sad and twisted and unfunny yet lovably lost as Bunny Breckenridge, a woman-slash-man looking for a magic sex change, and bringing his/her team of transsexuals to one Ed Wood extreme extravaganza of make-'em-up-as-they-go-along spontaneous filmmaking.

Ed Wood is a tribute to the late night, Tim Burton kind of off kilter champions of the midway circus. Hysterical! Bizarre! And a cherished part of our childhood waiting to re-emerge within the B actor inside all of us.

I'm Matt Gerson with 3 1/2 most delirious Angles for Ed Wood.

<< Announcer (with the end music from Casablanca playing in the background): You can hear Matt Gerson's "Angle on Movies" every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 7:45 a.m and 12:45 and 4:45 p.m. on AM 1310 KXAM. Call Matt at 432-1310. He'd like to know your opinion about your latest movie favorite. Thanks for listening, and join Matt again next time for his "Angle on Movies." >>
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