Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Ed Wood Summit #2 by Greg Dziawer

This week, Greg goes "fishing" for some rare paperbacks.

Finally. I had waited patiently for close to four weeks for the arrival of a box of vintage West Coast paperbacks that I had purchased on Ebay the day after Christmas. And then, just prior to the end of my work day, the box arrived safely on my doorstep via the good old US Postal Service. I couldn't wait to go though its contents, a can of Lionshead beer in my hand.

This was something of a fishing trip, as I was hoping to potentially ID another one of Ed Wood's X-rated novels. My quest was equal parts wrongheaded and near-impossible, since this box contained a smattering of 1960s adult paperbacks with only tenuous connections to Ed Wood. But the possibility was there, nevertheless! 

And what did the box ultimately contain? Did I unearth a new Ed Wood classic? Well, I am proud to share my findings with you in the following video.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Podcast Tuesday: "J. Edgar Hoover Was Into Weird Stuff"

Henry Winkler and Lynda Goodfriend on Happy Days.
We're back! Did you miss us? That's right, These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast returns with its first new episode of 2021. We took a few weeks off for the holidays, but we figured we had better get back to the job of reviewing Happy Days episodes, since we have about 144 more of them to cover. At the rate we're currently going, we should be done by 2024!

This week's podcast is devoted to the lowly Season 5 clip show "Richie's Girl Exposes the Cunninghams" aka "The Fourth Anniversary Show." The thin plot has college student Lori Beth (Lynda Goodfriend) interviewing her boyfriend's family and friends so she can put together a report about the average American middle class family. This one was so obscure that it didn't even air in Happy Days' usual Tuesday night timeslot. Instead, ABC dumped this thing on a Friday night, where it was followed by a episode of the doomed Barney Miller spinoff, Fish

Did "Richie's Girl Exposes the Cunninghams" deserve this ignoble fate? Does it rise above the status of mere clip show to become something truly special? Find out by listening to our latest podcast.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Loop Odyssey, Part 24 by Greg Dziawer

The pioneering film Tongue has a surprising connection to Ed Wood.

"We were then satisfied that, with proper lubrication and better adjustments, a little more power could be expected." 
Orville Wright
Logo for the Foxy series of loops.
I've spent a good deal of time these last few years untangling Ed Wood's involvement in 8mm porn loops in the 1970s, and one of my surest conclusions is that Eddie wrote the subtitles for numerous silent loops during this time.

Upon closer inspection, it became obvious that the subtitled loops—regardless of which series released them—had strong internal consistencies. In fact, the subtitles are just one of the major correspondences in these movies. Beyond that, I've ID'ed numerous set decorations as well as cinematic tropes ranging from editing to camera setups and movement.

Released between 1971 and 1978, these particular loops on which Eddie worked were produced by Noel Bloom. During these same years, Noel's father Bernie employed Ed as an adult magazine staff writer. As I've shown before, however, Noel was not only producing his own loops but was occasionally releasing foreign ones, usually Danish, with English subtitles.

Occasionally, Noel Bloom also distributed loops that were excerpts from adult feature films. To wit: Foxy, loop #3, "Lube Job." It, too, was given the customary subtitling treatment, as follows:

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Inaugural Wood Summit by Greg Dziawer

Here's the story... of a guy named Eddie...

Late last year, I had the idea to gather some of my friends and colleagues in the world of Woodology for a discussion about Ed Wood's life and work. On Sunday, January 3, 2021, we made that idea a reality, talking for an hour and a half by Zoom. Besides myself, the panelists that afternoon included: film archivist Keith Crocker, humorist and performer Mike H, author James Pontolillo, and the founder of this blog, Joe Blevins.

Our conversation was far-ranging and touched on myriad aspects of Ed Wood's life and career, from his 1950s films to his extensive work in pornography in the 1970s. We also shared items from our personal Wood collections, including some astonishing artifacts from the past. And we discussed our own histories with Ed Wood -- what drew us to his work and why we continue to be fascinated with him today.

The entire conversation has now been uploaded to YouTube. Be sure to check out the description box beneath the video; it contains links to the panelists' numerous other projects.

I am grateful to all the panelists, who literally spanned from coast to coast. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

A whole year's worth of comics parodies and mashups!

A gloomy year demands a gloomy header image.

As recently as 2019, comic parodies were a regular feature on this blog. Then, without warning, they vanished altogether. What happened? Well, it's like this. Up until about December of last year, I was an active participant in a Facebook forum devoted to newspaper comics. I shared my various mashups and parodies there and then collected them into occasional blog posts here at Dead 2 Rights. When I gave up on the Facebook forum, I stopped doing comics-related posts on this blog, too.

But I never stopped reading newspaper comics or doing parodies of them. I just don't do them in such great quantities as I used to. Now it's late December, and I have a folder on my hard drive full to bursting with comics, so I thought I'd share them all at once. Sound good to you? Let's go.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Plan 9 Odyssey, Part Four by Greg Dziawer

This is the week we compare Ed Wood with Fellini.

What a difference a decade makes. In the mid-1950s, Ed Wood would have had every reason to believe that ten years on he would still be racking up film credits as writer-producer-director. Still only 30 years old, he would soon shoot the film ultimately remembered as his magnum opus, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and he already had three feature films under his belt: Glen or Glenda (1953), Jailbait (1954) and Bride of the Monster (1955). While none of those films had garnered much notice, it was reasonable for Ed to think he had laid a solid foundation for a career. 

Flash forward a decade. Whatever the reason, Ed's film work now consisted of the occasional screenplay. The dreams of being a world-renowned auteur must have started to become remote as the reality settled in. By then, he was also writing adult paperbacks. And though he would return to the director's chair by the decade's end, it would be in the arena of sex films. 

Although all of Ed's early films would continue to play drive-ins for years, one in particular would become a staple of early TV syndication: Plan 9 from Outer Space. By 1965, it was airing regularly across the country. At least one writer had concluded that Plan 9 was one of the greatest films ever made and penned a guest column to that effect for the Minneapolis Star Tribune on August 17, 1965. 

Forst Lowery has high praise for Plan 9 from Outer Space.

I don't know if Forst Edgar Lowery (1920-1989) was a media critic or a fan of Ed's. Could he have somehow known him? How would Lowery know, for instance, that Plan 9 was previously titled Graverobbers from Outer Space or that Eddie owed "a debt to Fellini"? Given the level of praise heaped upon Ed in the column, and his own capacity for ballyhoo, it would seem plausible that Ed himself wrote this, if not for the misspelling of his last name. 

Poster for Fellini's 8 1/2.
Forst is a real person for sure, born in Minnesota on April 22, 1920, according to his draft card. And he wrote more than this one column, too! This page aggregates some studies he wrote (or cowrote) in the 1970s, focused upon the subject of sobriety testing and drunk driving. He was, in fact, a lifelong public safety official in Minneapolis, and by the '80s, served as the alcohol coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. He could no doubt have made a case study of Ed Wood.

With Lowery's lofty comparisons to internationally acclaimed film directors like Fellini and Bergman, you'd be forgiven these days for thinking that the column was meant as parody or satire. But Lowery seems sincere, and his proposal for an "Edward D Woods Jr Film Festival" [sic] must have been one of the first of its kind. (I can find no evidence that any such festival took place.) He cites "a certain young critic," unnamed but writing in the Kansas Cinema Quarterly, who compared the film favorably to the arthouse classic Last Year at Marienbad (1961), so Mr. Lowery was not the only one to esteem Plan 9 so highly.

There's much more to savor in this piece, originally intended as program notes for the festival, but I'll leave it speak for itself. Do keep in mind one thing: Last Year at Marienbad was included in Harry Medved's The 50 Worst Films of All Time, the 1978 book that preceded (and made possible) The Golden Turkey Awards, which in turn was the book that made Ed Wood famous by declaring him the worst director of all time, a moniker that stuck.

There is, as they say, no accounting for taste.