Last of the WOOD-en Soldiers: RIP Conrad Brooks

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It was a fateful day in 1948 when 17-year-old Conrad Brooks, trying to break into movies, met a 24-year-old would-be filmmaker named Edward D. Wood, Jr. at a coffee and donut shop. The two men hit it off, both dreaming of Hollywood success, and worked together on an unreleased short “Range Revenge”, beginning a lasting collaboration and friendship. Conrad Brooks, who died today at age 86, will never be remembered as an actor the stature of Olivier or Brando, but his participation in the films of no-budget auteur Ed Wood will always hold a special place in the hearts of lovers of uniquely strange (some would say bad) cinema.

Young Conrad Brooks with horror icon Bela Lugosi

Brooks played several parts in Wood’s first film, 1953’s gender-bending GLEN OR GLENDA, about a man who loved to dress in women’s clothing. The director managed to get veteran horror icon Bela Lugosi

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Horror On The Lens: The Beast of Yucca Flats (dir by Coleman Francis)

BeastyuccaflatsMy friend, the writer Tammy Dowden, claims that 1961’s The Beast of Yucca Flats is the worst movie ever made.

Well, technically, she may be right.  The Beast of Yucca Flats is a thoroughly inept film that makes next to no sense and has massive continuity errors.  It’s a film that also features the legendary Tor Johnson as a Russian scientist who gets mutated by radiation and becomes a monster, but not before taking off almost all of his clothes while walking through the desert.  For that matter, it’s also a film about a family that comes together though adversity — namely, being shot at by the police after the family patriarch is somehow mistaken for Tor Johnson.  And finally, it’s the story of how a dying monster can find comfort from a rabbit and that’s actually kind of a sweet message.

Here’s the thing — yes, The Beast of Yucca Flats is bad but you still owe it to yourself to watch it because you will literally never see anything else like it.  Plus, maybe you’ll be able to figure out what the whole point of the opening scene is.

Because I’ve watched this film a few times and I still have no idea!


Horror on The Lens: Plan 9 From Outer Space (dir by Edward D. Wood, Jr.)

Plan_9_Alternative_posterWatching Plan 9 From Outer Space is a bit of a Halloween tradition around the Shattered Lens Bunker and, if you know anything about me, you know that I’m all about tradition!

First released back in 1959 and directed by the infamous Ed Wood, Plan 9 From Outer Space is often described as being one of the worst films ever made.  Well, every year, I take it upon myself to defend Plan 9 From Outer Space by pointing out that 1) as opposed to a truly terrible film like Man Of Steel, Plan 9 From Outer Space was made with next to no money, 2) Gregory Walcott does a fairly good job in the lead role, and 3) the film, at the very least, does seem to be sincere in its attempt to promote world peace.  Add to that, the film is way too much fun to watch for it to be truly the worst film ever made.

So, seriously, can we at least give Ed Wood the amount of respect that we usually give to Tommy Wiseau?

Enjoy Plan 9 From Outer Space!  And remember — can you prove it didn’t happen?