Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Collaborator Odyssey, Part 20 by Greg Dziawer

This week, Greg looks at a forgotten collaboration between Ed Wood and Conrad Brooks.

(top to bottom) Ed Wood,
Conrad Brooks, and Conrad's
brother Henry Bederski.
When we think of the performers who were a part of Ed Wood's orbit, a host of indelible personalities come immediately to mind. There's Vampira and Criswell. Tor Johnson. Timothy Farrell and Valda Hansen. And that's just to name a few of Eddie's supposed "stock players." In truth, Vampira and Valda Hansen each only appeared in one film directed by Ed, and Criswell and Farrell in only two apiece.
 
But there was one actor who appeared in all of Ed's first six films -- the "canon" for those dismissing his later work in adult films -- as a writer-director: Conrad Brooks (1931-2017). You'll remember him best as Jamie in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the cop who utters the memorable line, "It's tough to find something when you don't know what you're looking for." He pops up in multiple roles throughout Glen or Glenda. In Night of the Ghouls, he and Eddie get into a fistfight. 

I recently stumbled upon an interview with Brooks from the January 14, 2000 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. By this time, Brooks had become a regular at cult film conventions, meeting fans and signing autographs. He had also become a director in his own right, returning to his roots making low-budget schlock, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek. The article provides a nice overview of Brooks' life and work, apart from typical fallacies like the saucers in Plan 9 From Outer Space being hubcaps. However, one detail jumped out at me, reminding me that there's another Ed Wood film possibly out there that has largely slipped through the cracks.

In the article, Brooks notes that his brother Henry Bederski wrote a film called Range Revenge and details Ed taking the reins to direct it. Described as a "home-movie" Western and shot in Griffith Park, Range Revenge was made circa 1948, marking it as one of Ed's first filmic efforts after arriving in Hollywood. Brooks' IMDb page identifies it as a 15-minute short.

While the film is presumably gone, it must not remain forgotten!

Conrad Brooks also mentions Range Revenge in the 2011 documentary/interview Conrad Talks Hollywood, which you can check out at YouTube or stream for a pittance on Amazon Prime. Here's another worthwhile interview with Conrad.

Last but not least, my friend Al Doshna, associate producer of the superb 1995 documentary The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood. Jr., maintains a wonderful page dedicated to his close friend Conrad Brooks here.