I decided to celebrate Veteran's Day with Ed Wood for a simple reason: you see more military footage in a Wood film than in most actual military films. Not to mention his love of people impersonating military personnel (here's your shout-out, Major Tom). In Wood's hallowed career, he made many films...none of which are really considered to be, you know, good. He is well-known for his opus Plan 9 From Outer Space (which I own) and his bizarre film Glen or Glenda (which I don't...yet). He made so many more films than that, however, but people tend to ignore or forget them. Let's fix that, shall we? The first subject is still pretty well-known, but is always overshadowed by Plan 9. Did you know that Bride is part of an unofficial trilogy by Wood? I'll cover the third part (Plan 9 is the middle one) next week. Right now, let's jump right into...
Bride of the Monster
There is barely any cohesive plot here- a Wood staple- but I will do my best. A weird doctor (Bela Lugosi) lives out in the middle of nowhere and does experiments. He is trying to make a monster, which is odd given that he already has a 400-lb Swede on the payroll (Tor Johnson). You know, if you can't have the one you want, honey, love the one you're with. Anyhow, he has escaped the Eastern bloc and wants to utilize nuclear power for his own nefarious purpose. Unfortunately for him, a pair of guys wander over to his house and get killed. One of them falls into the pool with his stock footage...er, giant octopus and the other is killed by Tor, who manages to sneak up on him...somehow. This draws the attention of the press and the police, both of which posture about who will be in charge. Meanwhile, people are being abducted by a madman and killed as part of his experiments. Maybe you guys should focus on what's important. We also get our real Ed Wood moment in the form of the police chief's tiny bird pet that serves no purpose. Also, for those who have seen the Ed Wood, you can spot the cameo by his girlfriend, who got bumped allegedly due to a financier wanting the lead female role. Given how abrasive the woman is, I can't see anyone hiring her for her talent.
Our unfriendly heroine goes off on her own to find the doctor, but crashes for no apparent reason. Women- am I right? She gets taken in by Lobo and the doctor as our plot turns to something else yet again. We get the doctor from earlier who has knowledge of Lugosi's character. A classic Ed Wood cut comes when we go seamlessly from the boyfriend in his black car to the doctor in his white car- classic. We get the famous scene of Tor meeting our heroine & Lugosi whipping him for staring too long. Around this time, our doctor shows up at the house and gives Lugosi a chance to give a monologue about respect/honor. Take note of how often the doctor fails to maintain his accent, as well. The gist of it is that Lugosi has been traveling the world and making atomic monsters, to varying degrees of success. This is another moment that Ed Wood viewers will recognize fondly. Mr. Wood finally tires of this scene and has the doctor dumped into the pit with the octopus, which is apparently not a pool anymore. Why am I expecting continuity here again? His death is laughable, but you probably know that already.
We get some filler in the form of one of the two men 'stuck' in quicksand and besieged by stock footage of an alligator. After a bit of build-up, he just climbs away. Thanks for that, Ed. Back in the lab, Lugosi hooks up our heroine to his machine to transform her. Our first rescue attempt goes badly as Tor sneaks up on someone again. Do you have any new ideas, Ed? Tor decides to save our heroine after he rubs her angora hat. You just knew that angora would play a part here, didn't you? In spite of being shot several times, Tor knocks out the doctor with his patented neck chop. Don't you hire a wrestler because he can, you know, wrestle?!? While our heroes try to escape, Tor hooks up Lugosi to the machine and turns it on! He transforms into a stuntman and battle Tor in a fight for the ages. The police show up in time to shoot at 'Bela' as he leaves. Aside from some close-ups, the stuntman does all the work here. Our hero knocks a rock into 'Bela' who falls into the pool with the octopus...only it is now a light puddle at best. After some struggling, 'Bela' explodes...for some reason, giving the movie it's anti-atomic power message. The End.
*Yeah, this movie is not good. More importantly, it is not as inherently funny as Plan 9. The movie is very wordy and full of filler. This is a rare case of when being more competent does not pay-off. For example, Tor plays a giant, mute monster. In Plan 9, Ed decided to let him talk- bad call. The movie is just much more dry, especially if you don't know the 'behind-the-scenes' information. The female lead is really bad, which is amusing if you know the reason why she was there. In fairness, Dolores Fuller was not all that great in Glenda or in her cameo here as one of the three women in the film. As far as last films, this is one odd way for Bela to go out. He gets some good moments, but is still a part of this movie. In fairness, he could have played the Sheriff in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West like Jimmy Stewart did for his last role. Watch this if you are a forgiving movie-goer or lover of black-and-white films. If you are a fan of solely new horror, stick with Plan 9. Even 50 years later (this July), it is still funny as hell.
Up next, the first of my Flesh-Eater Quintology begins. Umberto Lenzi crafts a tale of cannibals, cults and bravado. Stay tuned...