Ode to a Director Who Dared to Be Dreadful
“Ed Wood,” Tim Burton’s very good film about a very bad film maker, has a cheerful defiance that would surely have appealed to Orson Welles, who was Ed Wood’s hero. Late in the film, Welles appears (played deftly by Vincent d’Onofrio, who really looks like him) to advise Wood that independence is everything and that an artist’s visions are worth fighting for. Mr. Burton, currently Hollywood’s most irrepressible maverick, has taken that credo to heart.
So here is the Z-movie ethos of Edward D. Wood Jr., as filtered through the dark wit and visual brilliance of Mr. Burton. Two questions immediately present themselves: Who and why? To answer the first, Ed Wood was a director working on the outermost fringes of Hollywood in the 1950’s. He made the kind of science-fiction film that used Cadillac hubcaps for flying saucers. Continue reading
Frankenweenie is a short film directed by Tim Burton, and co-written by Burton with Leonard Ripps. It is a parody of, and homage to, the 1931 film Frankenstein based on Mary Shelley’s book of the same name.
Originally considered a failure and being put to the side by Disney, it was given a home video release after Burton’s breakthrough success with films like Beetlejuice, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, and Batman.
Victor Frankenstein is a young boy who creates movies starring his dog, Sparky. After Sparky is hit by a car, Victor learns at school about electrical impulses in muscles, and gets the idea to bring his pet back to life. He creates elaborate machines which bring down a bolt of lightning that revives the dog. While Victor is pleased, his neighbors are terrified by the animal, and when the Frankensteins decide to introduce the revitalized Sparky to them, they become angry and afraid. This leads to a frantic chase that cannot end well…or can it? Continue reading