Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Ed Wood Wednesdays: A roundup of Ed Wood news! (Fall 2023)

A new version of one of Ed's films is coming to BluRay soon!

For a director who's been dead for 45 years this December, Ed Wood has maintained a surprisingly high profile in the 2020s. He never totally goes away, at least not for long. It seems like there's always some Wood-related project in the works, related to his films, his writings, or his life. Ed Wood tribute movies and documentaries are always in production or pre-production somewhere, though many of these may never be finished or released. I know this because the makers of these films (and potential films) contact me occasionally to tell me of their grandiose plans. I wish them all a lot of luck.

Eddie's own movies are occasionally rereleased or repackaged as well. Currently, a company called Gold Ninja Video is taking pre-orders for a new two-disc Blu-ray edition of Eddie's Night of the Ghouls (1959). This remastered version will carry the film's original title, Revenge of the Dead, and comes with a slew of special features. Most impressively, this package includes several of Ed's other movies, including Trick Shooting with Kenne Duncan (1960), Jail Bait (1954), and Final Curtain (1957), plus the Super 8 version of Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957). Ghouls, Plan 9, and Jail Bait will all have optional commentary tracks as well. My esteemed colleague Greg Dziawer has written the liner notes. Can't wait to have this one in hand!

But not all the news I have this week is so positive.

Probably the biggest Ed Wood-related story of the past few months was that the makers of the new, crowdfunded episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 wished to use Plan 9 from Outer Space for the show's proposed 14th season. Unfortunately, their Thanksgiving weekend fundraising drive only managed to raise $2.7 million toward the show's $4 million goal, and this was an "all or nothing" campaign. On November 26, MST3K creator Joel Hodgson sent this melancholy message to all who had donated:
Greetings, backers.

Well, we’ve come to the end of the month, and the end of the Turkey Day Marathon and this campaign.
While we’re incredibly grateful for all of the support, enthusiasm, and encouragement, it’s clear we’ve fallen short of our goal this time.

First, to be clear, please understand that that means that no one will be charged anything, and we will not be collecting anything that you pledged to this campaign , since the agreement was that we’d only collect funds if we reached our minimum goal. No charges will be put on anyone’s credit cards.

Second, and more important, please know that we’re incredibly grateful for all of your input, feedback, concerns and questions, and are thinking about all the suggestions you have made over the past month.

One silver lining is that the continued support for this campaign, and the show, may have opened up some new conversations about potential partnerships and fundraising that could be key in getting the show another season.

We’ll spend some time now exploring those, and working to integrate all of the feedback and suggestions we’ve heard from you, and will follow up again next year, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, when we’ve had a chance to regroup and have more to share downstream.

For now, whether you pledged or not, please accept our thanks and gratitude for your ongoing dedication and investment in MST3K.

We’re proud that the show continues to mean so much, to so many, and will keep working to figure out a path forward so that we can hopefully continue to #MakeMoreMST3K.

Until then, have a wonderful holiday season, and thanks again for all of your support.

Cheers and Thanks,

Joel and Team MST3K
For the time being, Ed Wood's most famous film will not be receiving the full MST3K treatment. So Plan 9 from Outer Space will not be joining Bride of the Monster (1955), The Violent Years (1956), and The Sinister Urge (1960) quite yet. But don't despair! There's a RiffTrax version of Plan 9 from 2009 featuring commentary from MST3K veterans Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy. 

And who knows? Maybe the MST3K team will find a way to make Season 14 happen after all. Lord knows, Ed Wood went through his own struggles to raise money for films. Maybe Joel and the gang can take inspiration (or at least consolation) from him.