Plot: What’s it about?
The films of Ed Wood, Jr. have become known as some of the worst ever produced, but even so, they’ve wrangled a cult audience over the years. In fact, the worse Wood’s movies turned out, the better, as it meant more laughs, more cheap special effects, more fumbled & incoherent dialogue, and in the end, more fun. Of course, his films weren’t as popular when he was alive, so like many revered artists, perhaps he was before his time. But then again, we don’t look at today’s bad movie producers with the same sentiment, so I suppose in this era, Wood’s lack of talent and resources would have landed him little more fame & fortune. In The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr., we’re shown the more personal side of Wood, via interviews with friends, coworkers, and admirers, all of whom have some kind of stories to retell here. So you can hear about how folks got involved with Wood’s pictures, what it was like to be on the set, how they view their own efforts now, and just get a better picture of the man behind the angora sweater, of course. So prepare the piepan flying saucers, as its time to enter the haunted world of Ed Wood, Jr.!
I think we all know how incompetent Wood’s pictures were, but a lot of us still love to watch them and I have to admit, I own a few myself. Even when compared to other “bad” movies of the time, Wood’s films have less direction, less effort, and less positive elements, though they do have a ton of unintentional humor, of course. One only needs to watch Plan 9 From Outer Space to understand why Wood’s reputation is in place, with the awful special effects, terrible direction, and of course, miserable dialogue. In addition to the wealth of insider interviews, which yield immense information, we’re shown clips from various pictures, which keeps things fresh and that’s important, since we’re dealing with the cinema of Ed Wood here. The clips really enhance the experience, even if you’ve seen all the movies, as it brings certain issues to life and of course, adds some humor into the mix, though this is a light documentary, to be sure. Is this an insightful, well crafted documentary? I wouldn’t go that far, but it is a worthy companion piece to Wood’s films and is fun to watch, which is enough to warrant a recommendation here.
Video: How does it look?
The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr. is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. I don’t think we can compare this to a normal movie DVD, but for what it is, this visual effort is solid and shows no serious flaws. The interviews look clean and crisp, with good color and contrast, as well as just a sharp overall presence. The movie clips and older footage haven’t held up too well, but are passable and that’s acceptable in this case. So for the various materials shown here, this is a nice, solid presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
Again, this is a documentary and not a feature film, so the audio isn’t all about bells & whistles, just basic presentation. This one is driven by dialogue and little else, so don’t expect much in terms of background ambiance. The vocals come across well, with no harshness or such, while volume is well balanced at all times. The audio in the clips is good also, the same as you’ll find in Image’s releases of the movies, which is good news. Not much else to discuss here, a good solid presentation in all respects.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Image has piled on some cool extras here, including an audio commentary track with director Thompson, who is joined by other folks as the session unfolds. The track is rather bland at times, but has some good information, so stick with it through the rough spots. You can also watch footage from the documentary’s premiere, check out some outtakes from the interviews, clips from the reunion & additional premiere material, an unedited edition of the interview with Brett Thompson & Mike Gabriel, and a selection of rare Wood photos & memorabilia.