R.I.P. Kôji Wakamatsu

Once again, there’s no room for the planned and/or promised updates, as it’s time to pay tribute to a recently and suddenly deceased director. This time that’s even to be read literally, because Japanese cult director Kôji Wakamatsuwas run over by a taxi. Some

Violence without a cause
Violence without a cause

sources claim it was no accident as Wakamatsu had claimed he wanted to make a critical movie about the nuclear company Tepco. Of course, that’s only speculation at best, but how fitting an ordered execution would be for such a director.

When these pages belonged to a cult review site, DV, Wakamatsu’s filmography was mentioned and discussed. One of the most overused expression was fitting for him: you either hated or loved him. Smutty pornographer to some, bleak observer to others, his movies didn’t leave most members unmoved. And whereas it’s true that some of his work was little more than pornographic (especially in the 1980s), the same could be said for Jean Rollin or Jess Franco, directors who did get to keep their medals of cult directors.
Make no mistake, The embryo hunts in secret (1966) is extreme cinema. Basically, it’s like watching a woman who’s constantly tortured by a man. Like Fifty Shades then, but bleaker, less eroticising and more stylistic. Well, a lot more stylistic.

Kôji Wakamatsu directed so many movies – his IMDb profile, which may not even be complete (but it’s hard sifting through the movies with countless titles) – clocked off at 105 titles. That’s more than a hundred titles for a director who didn’t do anything between 1997 and 2003, or indeed skipped a couple of other years too. By contrast, he managed to complete ten titles in 1964. (He debuted in 1963, at the age of 27.)

Go go, second time virgin
Go go, second time virgin

No wonder then that it’s sometimes hard to distinguish which movie you’re watching. There are so many and most carry his cinematographic style. When asked why his body of

work was often repetitive, the director answered: Because the basic theme is the same, because all my films deal with the same primal element – the fight against authoritarianism, the individual hate and revenge against authority and repression. That hate and revenge explode in lust and violence. Is this bad?”

Wakamatsu was also a producer and even made some of his fame there, being the executive producer of In the realm of the senses, Oshima‘s erotic classic. Oshima is a lot more known and a little less extreme than Wakamatsu, but if you like Oshima’s work, there’s a chance you’ll like Wakamatsu as well. (I had to think of Oshima’s Naked Youth a.k.a. Cruel story of youth the first time I watched a Wakamatsu movie.)

For a lot of Wakamatsu’s work you’ll have to rely on the internet as most of his movies aren’t out on DVD anywhere else than Japan. A couple of movies were released in the US,

Shinjuku mad
Shinjuku mad

such as the excellent Go, go, second time virgin or Ecstasy of the Angels (both Image) or The notorious concubines (SWV). If you manage to catch Italian channel RaiTre, the often excellent Fuori Orario is currently showing a weekend long of movies as a tribute to the late director. On the internet, MUBI has a page on him with more than 20 films which he either directed or produced.

To me, Wakamatsu’s work are more political than erotic, no matter how much sex there is in some of his exploitation movies. (Then again, I’ve only seen ten of his films, that’s less than 10% after all.) The low budget he often had forced him to limit locations, but it helped to make his films claustrophobic. His style allowed you to understand his movies even if you can’t speak a word of Japanese (check). One of his films is called Violence without a cause, which neatly sums up Wakamatsu’s body of work. You can find a lot of clips from his movies on YouTube, but I’ll leave you with the opening scene of Ecstasy of Angels, which shows Wakamatsu didn’t need sex or violence to know where to point his camera to.

“I don’t think much of critics, so naturally they don’t think much of me either.” (Kôji Wakamatsu, 1936-2012)

Horror Europa

Halloween is upon us and even channels which never deal with horror may want to pre-empt their schedule for one night of spine-chilling movies. Here in Belgium, the public network has a threesome of movies planned for Halloween night: The Thing from Another World, The Body Snatcher and Rubber (which seems an odd choice after two B&W classics). BBC Four doesn’t do anything special on the 31st of October, but one day earlier you can catch Horror Europa, a 90-minute special with Mark Gatiss.

“Actor and writer Mark Gatiss embarks on a chilling voyage through European horror cinema. From the silent nightmares of German Expressionism in the wake of World War I to lesbian vampires in 1970s Belgium, from the black-gloved killers of Italy’s bloody Giallo thrillers to the ghosts of the Spanish Civil War, Mark reveals how Europe’s turbulent 20th century forged its ground-breaking horror tradition. On a journey that spans the continent from Ostend to Slovakia, Mark explores classic filming locations and talks to the genre’s leading talents, including directors Dario Argento and Guillermo del Toro.”

Seems like an appointment you don’t want to miss…

Take This Waltz

Sometimes a review is inappropriate. All you can say might ruin the movie. All you can say is but an opinion. Take This Waltz, by Sarah Polley, is such a movie. In it, Margot (Michelle Williams) meets a guy she’s interested in. To complicate stuff, he (Luke Kirby) appears to be her new neighbour and the platonic flirt is even less innocent because she’s married. Furthermore, there seem to be intimacy problems between Margot and her husband (Seth Rogen). For instance, when she’s lovingly fighting with her husband, she doesn’t like it when he kisses her while calling her a little girl. Those issues and the fact that her husband is very pre-occupied with the cookbook he’s writing, draw her to the flirty neighbour and it’s time for an hour of “Will they, won’t they?”. And while that’s going on, you can spend the entire time observing how Margot moves (in a way a key to understanding the film better).

Williams looks like she’s here because she was in Blue Valentine. Rogen and Sarah Silverman appear to be cast because they’re comedians and their roles needed some funny lines, but none of it matters because everything just works. Atom Egoyan is thanked in the credits and Polley seems to have learned from him how subtly added music can highlight a scene (I had to think of Egoyan during the “postcard scene”).
Speaking of music and how subtle the film is, check out this clip from the film. It features another song by Leonard Cohen (and before you ask, yes, the title of the film does appear as a song in the movie):

At which point it might seem odd to talk about Swedish-Danish cop show The Bridge… Not really though, part of what made it so good is that the Swedish cop Saga Noren looked like she had Asperger’s syndrome. However, nowhere in the series were you pointed to that fact. That’s the good thing about this film. So much of the many relationships (Margot and her husband, the neighbour, Margot’s family-in-law) are they for what and how they are. Amateur psychologists might be quick to give their diagnosis, but stay until the end and things might not necessarily be like you’d expected at first. Even the opening scene of the movie doesn’t get clear until later in the film.

Speaking of staying until the end… the movie ends with punches you might not have expected. As the lights went on, three couples hadn’t moved an inch. Had it lasted another minute, I might have left the cinema in tears too. And even though I didn’t, when I left the cinema, the sky was crying instead of me.


The Year of the Sex Olympics

Damn you, London 2012! Since you’ve started the amount of visitors has severely decreased, I noticed the other day – right after posting my Hunger Games review. Another ‘discovery’ was that in the previous week, the movies with the less innocent titles were looked at most (along with anything to do with Marina and the Diamonds). So by way of comeuppance, here’s my review of The Year of the Sex Olympics.

“This is the year of the Sex Olympics. Sex Olympics year.” In a nondescript but nevertheless bleak future, TV is the new King – or rather God. Thus spoke Nigel Kneale, for it is he who has written this feature. Movie might’ve been the wrong word as Sex Olympics was written for “Theatre 625”, a series of feature-length one-offs and movielike plays made for BBC2. I can’t help but wonder how the announcer in 1968 must have sounded when introducing this particular programme. Anyway, don’t get too excited: there’s no nudity and the sex is hinted at, but never much “on screen”. Some sounds and images may look erotic, but that’s mainly your dirty mind at work. We do get a look at the shows “Artsex” and “Sportsex” being made. The former looks very much like the tamer movies of Betty Page, the latter is a competition wherein couples take part. They are the Sex Olympics.

According to Kneale, Sex Olympics was a comment on both recent developments in television and a change in sexual morals. “At the time, the population explosion was a very hot topic and it was also the time when hair was on and people were saying ‘let’s put porn on stage’. So I put these ideas together and took them to their logical conclusion, using porn as a socially beneficial element that turns people into the ultimate passive audience by hooking them on a substitute for sex rather than the real thing and so keeping the population down.” (Video Watchdog n°47)
Eerily enough, what Kneale described looks surprisingly a lot like Big Brother – and don’t forget that in almost each country this “reality” show had at least one edition where one or two contestants stepped over sexual lines. In a way, the ‘sick’ thing is that I wanted to get past the sex olympics scenes to get to the couple that decides to get away from the real world to survive on a remote island – so very much like Survivor thenbecause that part of the feature seemed (and proved to be) ‘meatier’. That the couple does so is because an incident proves the test audience (which is always keenly monitored by the tv producers) reacts more to the incident than the actual show. They believed that this was because there was something hard-wired in their brains that triggered the impulses, something “emotional”. Emotions and impulses and all the words relating to them have been abandoned in this society and therefore almost forgotten in favour of some “new speak” (a yuppie-like language). But if emotions spark the viewers’ interest, then let’s bring them back. In a way, the title of “Sex Olympics” isn’t too odd: this past fortnight, there’s a good chance you’ve been glued to your television (or computer), watching a sport you’d never heard of and that won’t get any more broadcasts until Rio 2016.

The biggest drawback of the DVD is that the original footage of the show has been lost and all that remains is a B&W master. At the time, it wouldn’t have mattered much as most viewers didn’t have a colour set, but especially the outfits of Misch (Vickery Turner) seem to lack some colourfulness in their fifty shades of grey. (I believe this pun grants me an internship on Bargain Hunt.) Now this feature looks a bit like the episodes of The Avengers, not the Emma Peel era but the Cathy Gale episodes – a very peculiar B&W combination that instantly makes you pinpoint it as “1960s television”. I even spotted the occasional reflection of a camera during the show.

Never mind all that, this was all written by the same pen as Quatermass (the movies as well as the tv series) and a couple of cult movies. At the time, The Year of the Sex Olympics was well received and it’s not hard to guess why. This is a take on an Orwellian tv society set in another “Brave New World”. (That book was also sparked by questions on sexuality, but the main difference is that Huxley wrote his work at the end of the pre-code movies whereas Kneale wrote his script at a time the flower power generation was very much alive.)

Speaking of the script, that is included as an extra on the BFI release. It also features a feature commentary by Brian Cox (who played one of the producers) and an introduction by Kim Newman. If you wonder why a horror lover introduces The Year of the Sex Olympics, then stop wondering: once Ugo (Leonard Rossiter) and Deanie (Suzanne Neve) are on the island, it soon dawns upon them that the producers didn’t keep their promises (no suprises for us, 21st century connaisseurs of reality tv) and that living on their own (accompanied by a little girl) brings back a lot of emotions, which are quite frightening if you’re not used to them. (“I think that’s called despair,” a tv producer notes while observing the footage.) It wouldn’t be a dystopian tale if it was gearing towards a happy end, so expect none. Sex Olympics may start with some playful cuddling, but ends with something on the other side of the scale.

The bad news is that the DVD seems to be out of print, but that may be one of the reasons you can watch this on YouTube. Look up the title and watch it. I’ve already seen it, so I can go back to London 2012. Women’s handball and men’s 10m platform diving are up next!

Lonesome released soon

Occasionally, we post an additional extra article when there’s a longer gap between the 30th of a month and the 5th of the next. As this is post 404, the idea of a short movie or clip about internet error 404 looked like a good option, but then there’s sometimes news that’s too good and/or important to be shelved until the next scheduled update. Such as this…

One of the victims of the Avenue’s hyperbusy activities (Sept 2010-June 2012) was Paul Fejos. Not that he’ll mind – he’s been dead since 1963 – but we never had the time to add him to the Vault (our list of 30 movies that didn’t get enough praise). Apart from not enough time, there was another issue that delayed that post. Which movie should we put in the Vault: Marie, Légende Hongroise or Lonesome?

Good news on one of those movies: Criterion has already made their decision and will release Lonesome at the end of this month. If you’re now not jumping up with joy, it’s clear that you don’t know this movie. Personally, Fejos’s movies manage to grip in ways few movies of the 1920s and 1930s can. In a fair world, some of his movies should be next to lists which include King Kong, Der Letztste Mann or La passion de Jeanne d’Arc.

Because this is just an extra post and it’s summer time, we’ll not bore you will a long essay on why this is great news  about a great movie. Instead, Criterion themselves will give you three reasons why you should be saving already.

Criterion’s release is also memorable for its extras:

  • New digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring film historian Richard Koszarski
  • The Last Performance, director Paul Fejos’s 1929 silent starring Conrad Veidt, with a new score by composer Donald Sosin
  • Reconstructed sound version of Broadway, Fejos’s 1929 musical
  • Fejos Memorial, a 1963 visual essay produced by Paul Falkenberg in collaboration with Fejos’s wife, Lita Binns Fejos, featuring the filmmaker narrating the story of his life and career
  • Excerpt about the Broadway camera crane from an audio interview with cinematographer Hal Mohr
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critic Phillip Lopate and film historian Graham Petrie and an excerpt from a 1962 interview with Fejos

It’s mainly thanks to the Italian show Fuori Orario that I’ve heard of him: they occasionally show some of his movies. The only movie by Fejos that’s easily available on dvd is his Fantomas movie (not the one with de Funes, of course).

Legend Of The Champions

Technically I have not seen the film I’m about to review. As a film, it was released in 1983, but it wasn’t really a “new movie” at the time. I’ll explain: The Champions was a British television series which ran for 30 episodes in 1968. Fifteen years later, at a time when something called “videotapes” were all the latest craze, someone decided to make a movie out of two episodes. Kids those days couldn’t access the internet and look for old stuff on YouTube, so a “movie” was a good thing to lure a new crowd into an old show and also, at approximately 49 minutes an episode, you’d need at least ten tapes if you wanted to buy the entire series. That’s a lot of money (and space) for a series you might not have heard of.

The Champions was one of the many shows that tried to follow in the footsteps of other cult shows like The Avengers or, to a lesser extent, The Prisoner. The show is about three secret agents of the international organisation Nemesis. During one mission to Asia, their plane crashes in the mountains of Tibet and instead of dying, they’re saved by an ancient people… with magic abilities. As a result, the agents – two men and a woman – are now superhumans. Which is quite handy for a special agent. They can hear clicks from outside the wall, speak to each other by telepathy (which only works if they speak out loud – it’s never really clear from which distance they can communicate with each other, let’s just say “nearby”), have a vision when one of the others is in danger and they’re superstrong. There’s one condition: they’re not allowed to speak of the Tibetan people that gave them the abilities. The Champions is therefore less of an exciting series: you’ll know the agents will pull through, being superhuman and all. The real question is if they can use their powers without being caught, including by their boss Tremayne (Anthony Nicholls).

Tremayne’s office (and the entire headquarters of Nemesis) is in Geneva. Not that the show was taped there, but there’s nothing a bit of studio magic can’t solve. I haven’t seen a lot of shows that needed to rely on stock footage this much. In one episode, agent Craig Stirling (Stuart Damon) finds himself “in Rome”. Read: someone used a couple of shots of Roman landmarks and put the actor (with sunglasses) in front of a blue screen. (The show’s titles used the same trick: have a good look at the caption at the top of this article to have a better idea of what I’m talking about.) The Champions is very much a poverty row series. Which is also why some episodes were based on a submarine. The prop was there, so why not use it more than once? Every time the submarine popped above water and the actor looked outside, the sky was always eerily blue and the sub completely dry, but let’s gloss over that one, shall we?

Because despite being not the most exciting show with cheap studio props, The Champions has certain things going for it. The actors are well cast: you’ll have seen Damon and William Gaunt (who plays Richard) in several other television shows, from small roles to leading parts, and Sharron Macready (which rhymes with “greedy” rather than “ready”) is played by none other than Alexandra Bastedo. She was also in many tv shows, but you may also remember her from William Castle‘s 13 Frightened Girls (reviewed earlier) or the cult classic The Blood-Spattered Bride. Also, like other shows of that era, you do get a chance to see interesting guest roles (Donald Pleasance is one example) and some episodes were directed by well-known people: the one guest-starring Pleasance was directed by Freddie Francis, at the time already an established name.

Can I make you more than lukewarm about The Champions? Not really. I was lucky enough to find the entire box set in a bargain bin for 6 euros, so at 20 cents an episode I’m having the time of my life watching an episode on nights I don’t have enough time for a full movie. One IMDb reviewer said he’d bought the show for 60 dollars. I wouldn’t recommend spending so much money on it though.
As for Legend of the Champions I can be brief: don’t spend any money on it if you catch it. Basically, it’s nothing but episode 1 and 19 glued together. In episode 19, Craig Stirling is interrogated about his latest mission and during the experiments Stirling suffers from flashbacks. A handy way to use some footage of previous episodes (and, erm, even one “flashback” from the next episode). Now if you rearrange the flashbacks a bit and add the rest of the material from the pilot episode, then you’ve got yourself a feature-length movie. Not only are there problems with the transaction from the flashbacks to the interrogation scenes, neither episode managed to show off the show’s fortes. Even the tone of those two episodes is a bit different from the other episodes. Bascially, it’s like The Avengers but without the comedy (so especially like the era of Cathy Gale then), but stuck in a format that cries for the eras of Emma Peel. As a result, it’s like watching the Tara King episodes.

Also, The Champions finds itself on the thinnest of ropes balancing between sci-fi and spy action and often falls with its face flat on the ground. Overall, it is a show about three secret agents and the sci-fi is just there to spice things up. A bit like the mildest curry also uses spices, that is. I’m struggling to think there’s anyone who might want to get the entire series after watching Legend of the Champions. Either they think the show is too bland or they will watch the other episodes and fail to get involved with the different tone. “The interrogation” (episode 19) seems to mimic the tone of The Prisoner.

Try to think of the success you’d have combining Misfits with The Prisoner and then hoping that’ll lure viewers into watching the Tara King episodes of The Avengers. Good luck with that!

(These are the show’s title, with the commercial teasers added as intro and outro.)

The curious case of the anti-piracy announcement

If you’ve ever bought a movie on dvd, you must have seen the announcement that downloading movies is bad. Very bad. We’re even funding terrorism by grabbing a free copy of a blockbuster. Because nothing says the truth more than a statement that isn’t in the least exaggerated. Anyway, quite often you can’t even fast forward these messages which is quite annoying: in an earlier post we mentioned that they become so annoying it’s even tempting to grab an illegal copy of a movie off the internet because that allows you to go straight to the movie. Because, again, nothing says the truth more than an exaggerated statement.
And anyway, aren’t these announcements barking up the wrong tree? Who is being targetted here? The people who actually made the effort to buy a dvd. Wouldn’t a message applauding these people for their efforts be more welcome, more to the point and, why not, shorter?

But that is only the introduction. In the Netherlands a composer was asked to make some background music for an anti-piracy campaign for a film festival. The man was nicely paid by the anti-piracy organisation. Case closed. Ermm, no… some time later the man inserted a dvd into his player and, lo and behold, there was the same message… including his tune. As Private Eye would say: shurely shome mishtake?

The composer contacted the organisation. After all, didn’t his contract specify he was the tune’s owner for national and international territories? Plus, he had composed the tune: surely they’d forgotten he was the rightful owner of the track, even if they used a message for a film festival on another medium… ermm no, the Dutch anti-piracy organisation felt it was their message and therefore their plaything.

So the composer looked for a lawyer to take up this curious case. Not only that, a tv network heard about the story and jumped on it as well. A conversation between the lawyer and one of the anti-piracy guys was recorded and included a most memorable moment: this guy claimed that he was known for his pitbull attitude and he would make sure the composer would be paid after all. Of course, sinking your teeth into something costs some money and the man suggested a nice little fee of one third of the money would go to him for his effort and the composer could get the rest. And after all, two thirds of a sum is still better than nothing, eh?

TV networks tend to have the time to broadcast material and the interview was shown on the Dutch telly (discerning enthusiasts could hear the full interview on the network’s site). The anti-piracy movement promptly decided it was best for the man to stay low and removed him from his current job. Several weeks later, the composer got a wonderful offer: he would be paid the royalties for each dvd on which his tune was present as long as these were Dutch dvds (sometimes a dvd is published in several countries with a various display of subtitles – for those dvds the composer couldn’t be paid, of course, even if the music was featured there) and on the condition that he wouldn’t contact the press anymore. The composer did not agree to these conditions. For the record, we would like to point out that the Dutch anti-piracy organisation clearly states that their guy didn’t do anything wrong and that the network took certain words out of context.

Nevertheless, apparently a composer might not get paid for his work for an anti-piracy organisation (and probably not for any international releases). It just seems like a most curious case.

At least they’re not funding terrorism…

(P.S. If you understand Dutch, a short summary of the case can be watched here. It’s part of the year in review episode (16 Dec) as of 11:45 and is featured in several earlier episodes.)

Alex Cox “introduces” Jabberwocky (Moviedrome)

Every now and then I do a search on Moviedrome, to see if any new (read: unearthed) introductions have popped up and it looks like there’s a handful of new ones. High time then to update my Moviedrome page then.

One of the more peculiar introductions by Alex Cox was the one for Jabberwocky. It’s not as much a movie introduction as it’s… no, that would be telling.

Who said Moviedrome wasn’t cult?


It’s the Christmas of slashed budgets, or so it seems. Not much spectacular coming up for the yuletide season. Meanwhile I’m also busy as hell trying to fit two jobs and two projects into one life. Part of me feels ill, the other part very much alive. The stack of unwatched DVDs and VHS tapes remains spectularly impressive. About the only thing I can bear these days is the wonderful Danish show The Killing. More on that later, still on indefinite hiatus after all.

BBC2 used to treat us to seasons of films for the holiday season. I fondly remember the 50s sci-fi series ages ago, but even last year was nice with a handful of film noirs. All but one I’d seen, but that didn’t stop me from watching them again.
This year BBC2 manages to be the only station to interest me as well as disappoint me. Apart from a Christmas special of Doctor Who and the grand finale of Only Connect on BBC4, there’s not a lot of programmes I’m looking forward to. Yes, Have I Got News for You and Screenwipe will return for a festive treat, but no seasons of noir or anything?

Well, there is something… throughout the festive weeks BBC2 is showing an entire season of Medium. Season two, to be precise. Not having watched the first season but having heard good stuff, I tried my best to grasp what was going on during “previously on Medium” introduction, the first scene of the season treated me to a family dialogue on French toast.

During this wonderful dialogue, I was told french fries are called so because the original recipe was invented in France. Erm… not really…

What sort of nonsense is broadcast on our tellies these days? I’m not staying up for that. Bring back Invasion of the Saucer Men and Terror from the Year 5000.

ARTE Trash salutes Ed Wood in November

Nothing brings us greater pleasure than the return of Arte Trash. Thursday nights around 1am pan-European viewers can watch the lowest of the lowest, the sickest of the sickest and the weirdest or the weirdest. Here’s what’s coming up…

OCTOBER (continued)

Oct 28: Baixio das Bestias
A man falls in love with a teenage girl, who is exploited by her own grandfather, who sometimes takes her to a gas station to show her naked to whomever pays him some money.


November is Ed Wood month. Hailed as the worst director ever (though, honestly, here at DV we’ve seen a lot of worse movies), Arte Trash is keen on showing you if Wood deserves this reputation or not. Three of his movies, starting with his most notorious one, will be aired on Thursday nights. (The following comments and summaries come from Amazon.)

Nov 4: Plan 9 From Outer Space
Plan 9 is the story of space aliens who try to conquer the Earth through resurrection of the dead. Psychic Criswell narrates (“Future events such as these will affect you in the future!”) as police rush through the cemetery, occasionally clipping the cardboard tombstones in their zeal to find the source of the mysterious goings-on. More than just a bad film, Plan 9 is something of a one- stop clearinghouse for poor cinematic techniques: The time shifts whimsically from midnight to afternoon sun, Tor Johnson flails desperately in an attempt to rise from his coffin, and flying saucers zoom past on clearly visible strings. Fading star Bela Lugosi tragically died during filming, but such a small hurdle could not stop writer-producer-director Ed Wood. Lugosi is ingeniously replaced with a man who holds a cape across his face and might as well have “NOT BELA LUGOSI” stamped on his forehead.

Nov 11: Bride of the Monster
Bela Lugosi plays Dr. Vornoff, a mad scientist working on a race of superbeings in his lab. His process of clamping a metal lampshade onto the heads of his subjects and zapping them with radiation usually kills them, but the monstrous Lobo (Tor Johnson) survives and becomes Vornoff’s assistant. Vornoff’s plans go awry, though, when he tries to get a nosy reporter to mate with Lobo and winds up being given the atom treatment himself. Suffice it to say that there’s a grappling match between Vornoff and Lobo until the evil doctor falls into a pit and wrestles a rubber octopus. Stock footage of lightning and an atomic explosion round things out for a great non sequitur of an ending.

Nov 18: Glen or Glenda?
Often mentioned as a contender for the title of Worst Movie Ever Made, Glen or Glenda? (a.k.a. I Changed My Sex, a.k.a. I Led Two Lives, a.k.a. He or She) remains Ed Wood’s weirdest film–and, for the director of Plan 9 from Outer Space, that’s saying something. Yet Glen or Glenda? goes way beyond camp, into some unique zone of demented personal expression, an essay/collage/autobiography that is no less fascinating just because it comes from a second-rate mind. Wood himself, under the pseudonym Daniel Davis, plays a transvestite struggling to reveal his tendencies to his wife (the toneless Dolores Fuller, Wood’s missus in real life). Mixed in with this exploitation story is a ton of irrelevant stock footage, as well as disconnected glimpses of Béla Lugosi bellowing at the audience; Lugosi’s dialogue is a tapestry of non sequiturs and portentous warnings.