Thursday, June 07, 2007

Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life & Art of Edward D. Wood, by Rudolf Grey

(pb; 1992: biography)

From the back cover:

"This incredible, exhaustive biography of the cult movie auteur inspired the Tim Burton movie Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, Patricia Arquette and Martin Landau.

"Author Rudolf Grey unearths the remarkable stories behind such films as Plan 9 From Outer Space and Glen or Glenda. Meet the 'Wood Spooks' -- Bela Lugosi, Vampira, Criswell and Tor Johnson, Nightmare of Ecstasy reveals the weird, wild and sordid aspects of the man the ignorant have called 'The worst filmmaker of all time.'"


This oral history, provided by those who knew (or claimed they knew) Wood, documents a different era in Hollywood, as seen from its cinematic underbelly. Colorful, kitschy tales about Wood, Lugosi and other Hollywood has-beens (or hopeful would-bes) regularly highlight this modest able effort, interlaced with the sad facts of Wood's later life (alcoholism, financial victimization), as well as Lugosi's (who was a junkie and a belligerent drunk).

Even if you've seen the Tim Burton film (which was "inspired" by this book), this is still a must-read, as it shows a different, less upbeat view of a Hollywood dreamer whose hackish visions took brief flight.

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