Halloween-O-Meter: Ed Wood
Halloween-O-Meter: Ed Wood (1994)
Directed by Tim Burton, Ed Wood follows the career of the titular film director Edward D. Wood Jr. as he tries to make his dream come true and create a Hollywood film the way he wants to. The film in question? The 1957 masterpiece Plan 9 from Outer Space; widely regarded as one of the worst films ever made. Despite suffering an abysmal opening weekend and box office run, the film went on to garnish plenty of critical acclaim, winning two Academy Awards the following year.
If you haven’t seen this Tim Burton comedy and you like movies about movies, I recommend it! Like the more recent film The Disaster Artist (2017), seeing the film they are making does add to the comedy. However as both a comedy and a film about the passion of filmmaking, there is joy to be found regardless of having seen the movie they are making. Now if you are wondering why I picked Ed Wood to score on our Halloween-O-Meter, we’ll you’ll just have to find out…
There is plenty of praise to go around, from the Oscar winning makeup to the pitch perfect production design and oddly fitting cinematography to Howard Shore’s hilariously 50s score. The pacing certainly deserves some credit, as does the writing for keeping a consistent blend of drama, comedy, and drive for the story. The performances are outstanding, with top notch work from Johnny Depp, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Bill Murray, and more. Yet somehow they all fall short of the bar set by Martin Landau, who took home an Academy Award for his portrayal of actor Bela Lugosi.
I know, only one paragraph on what I liked about Ed Wood? Well it’s not the film’s fault that I watched The Disaster Artist first… For as comical as it is, I didn’t think it was that funny. I laughed a few times, but more often than not, I ended up feeling sorry for the characters. Some of the situations feel a bit depressing at times, especially with Lugosi’s character. (I was also not a fan of hearing Bela swear, as he never really did that.) I feel like the film does a good job getting into the love of the craft, but I also wanted to get into the character of Ed Wood a bit more too. Maybe this is the point of the film, as we don’t get too much about Tommy Wiseau either.
So in the end, as much as I enjoyed the film, I was a bit mixed. I really liked some of it, but the tone was just all over the place for me. Maybe the difference in this and The Disaster Artist is that most people don’t know Plan 9 or the people who made it, so the total failure of the people stands out to me more than the passion that went in to it. What I am trying to say is, if you asked me what the heart of this film is, it would pain me to answer honestly. It is still a fairly well-made movie, and I might watch it again for the performances alone. It doesn’t have the focus that Disaster Artist does, but it is still a very entertaining film with plenty to offer! 7/10.
So we put on Ed Wood because it felt like it could be a fun watch for Halloween. You’ve got the black and white aesthetic, the making of a very bad but very enjoyable film (which could also be a fun watch for Halloween), and Dracula himself. I mean don’t Depp and Burton always make a good pair for Halloween? Well not in this case. Regardless of the quality of the film, gosh it doesn’t make a good Halloween film. Once you get past the opening credits, the B-movie feel fades into a dram-com about the people, not so much classic Hollywood. Maybe if the film were about making just Plan 9 it would work for Halloween, but as it stands, I’m not sure anyone wants to be taken out of the Halloween feel as much as seeing Bela Lugosi post-Dracula (1931). As much as I enjoyed the film, on our Halloween-O-Meter, I could only give it 1- let’s say Underutilized Film Cameras- out of 5.
CUT! PERFECT! PRINT IT!
So Ed Wood? Have you seen it? What do you think? And what if your favorite film about filmmaking? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, let us know what else we should rank on the Halloween-O-Meter!
-review by Ryan Prince