Book Review: Hollywood Rat Race by Ed Wood, Jr.


Are you a teenager in the late 50s or the early 60s?

Are you planning on running off to Hollywood to become a star?

Do you need someone to tell you what to expect once you find yourself on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams?

Hollywood’s most successful director — the one and only Ed Wood, Jr. — is here to help!

Okay, maybe I’m going a little bit overboard with the hyperbole here.  Though Ed Wood is today best known for being played by Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton film, he was not just a movie character!  Nor was just a filmmaker!  Ed Wood was also an author.  When Wood didn’t have the money to make a movie, he would write a book.  In fact, it’s speculated that Wood actually made more money writing books than he did making movies.

Unfortunately, the majority of these books have been lost to time.  The ones that survive are generally either sex manuals or pulpy novels about hitmen who love to wear angora.  However, Hollywood Rat Race was Wood’s attempt to write, in the first person, about the industry and the city that he both loved and hated.  Hollywood Rat Race is Wood’s warts-and-all look at the film industry.  It’s his guide for how to make it in Hollywood.

What is Wood’s advice?

Be physically attractive.  Do whatever the director tells you to do.  Don’t be shocked when an executive chases you around a desk.  Sleep your way to the top if you have to but just be aware that no one will respect you once you get old.  Wood presents Hollywood as being a cold and unfeeling place but, at the same time, he also describe working in movies and television as the greatest career that anyone could hope for.  Wood will often start a chapter on a cautionary note but his enthusiasm for Hollywood always wins out in the end.  Reading the book, you realize that Wood loved the business too much to reject it, even if it did often reject him.

Hollywood Rat Race is not, despite what is claimed on the book’s back cover, a memoir.  Not really.  Yes, Wood does mention that he was friends with Bela Lugosi.  And he does talk about how Tom Tyler came out of retirement to appear in Plan 9 From Outer Space.  He mentions thar another member of his stock company didn’t complain about being attacked by an octopus in Bride of the Monster.  But those looking for juicy behind-the-scenes stories will be disappointed.  Instead, the book gives the impression that every experience Wood ever had with an actor or a film was a positive one.  Rather touchingly, it’s kind of easy to see Hollywood Rat Race as representing the Hollywood that Ed Wood dreamed of, as opposed to the Hollywood where Wood eventually went broke and drank himself to death.

Hollywood Rat Race was not published in Wood’s lifetime.  He wrote it shortly after the release of Plan 9 but the book was not published until after Tim Burton’s film reignited interest in Wood in 1994.  It’s a good book for all of he Wood completists out there.

And, before anyone asks, yes — he does recommend wearing an angora sweater to your next audition.

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


Watching Ed Wood’s infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space is something of an October tradition here at the Shattered Lens!  And you know how much I love tradition!

Some people say that this film has a reputation for being the worst film ever made.  Personally, I don’t think that it deserves that reputation.  Is it bad?  By traditional standards of quality, I guess it can be argued that Plan 9 From Outer Space is a bad movie.  But it’s also a lot of fun and how can you not smile when you hear Criswell’s opening and closing statements?

Enjoy and be sure to read Gary’s review!

(And also be sure to read Jedadiah Leland’s tribute to Criswell!)

(On another note: Watch this as quickly as you can because, over the least year or so, it seems like all the films of Ed Wood get yanked off YouTube as soon as they are posted.  Copyright violations, they say.  Personally, I think that’s shameful.  First off, Ed Wood is no longer alive.  Wood had no children and his widow died in 2006, having never remarried.  Whatever money is being made off of his films is not going to support his family.  Wherever he is, I think Ed would be more concerned that people see his films than some faceless corporation make money off of them.)

(It seems like, every year, someone threatens to either remake Plan 9 or produce a sequel.  Again, the original is all that is needed.)

Jungle Boogie: Ed Wood’s THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST (Allied Artists 1958)


cracked rear viewer

Reincarnation and past lives were popular themes in the 1950’s, mainly because of the success of THE SEARCH FOR BRIDEY MURPHY, which spawned a host of imitators. One of these was THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST, a bizarre take on the theme written by the legendary (for all the wrong reasons!) Edward D. Wood, Jr. In this incarnation of the reincarnation subject, we find a pretty young bride who improbably discovers she was once a fierce jungle gorilla!

Big Game Hunter Lance Fuller and his new wife Charlotte Austin are honeymooning at his stately manor. She finds out he’s keeping a gorilla named Spanky in the basement to be shipped to a zoo, and gets a ‘sinister urge’ (sorry!) to see it. Charlotte goes ape over Spanky, and he obviously digs her, too. But worried Lance warns her to keep her paws off the big ape because he’s dangerous.

Later that…

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Horror Scenes That I Love: Bela Lugosi’s Monologue in Bride of the Monster


“Home?  I have no home.”

So begins the monologue that serves as the centerpiece of the 1955 Ed Wood film, Bride of the Monster.  The monologue is delivered by Bela Lugosi, appearing in one of his final roles.

Far too often, people tend to be snarky about the work that Lugosi did under the direction of Ed Wood.  But you know what?

He actually delivers a pretty good performance in Bride of the Monster.

Ignore all of the stuff about atomic supermen and instead, just pay attention to the way Lugosi delivers the lines.  Pay attention to the pain in his voice as he says that he has no home.  Pay attention and you’ll discover that Lugosi actually gave a good performance in Bride of the Monster.  He delivers the lines with such wounded pride that you can’t help but think that maybe we should let him create a race of atomic supermen.

Among the old horror icons, Lugosi has always been the most underrated actor.  He got typecast early and he appeared in some unfortunate films but Bela Lugosi had real talent and you can see it in this scene.

4 Shots From 4 Tor Johnson Films: Bride Of The Monster, The Unearthly, Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Beast of Yucca Flats


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today is Tor Johnson’s birthday so it just seems appropriate to present….

4 Shots From 4 Tor Johnson Films

Bride of the Monster (1955, directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr.)

The Unearthly (1957, dir by Boris Petroff)

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959, dir by Edward D. Wood, Jr.)

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961, dir by Coleman Francis)

Horror on the Lens: Plan 9 From Outer Space (dir by Ed Wood, Jr.)


Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Watching Ed Wood’s infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space is something of an October tradition here at the Shattered Lens!  And you know how much I love tradition!

Some people say that this film has a reputation for being the worst film ever made.  Personally, I don’t think that it deserves that reputation.  Is it bad?  By traditional standards of quality, I guess it can be argued that Plan 9 From Outer Space is a bad movie.  But it’s also a lot of fun and how can you not smile when you hear Criswell’s opening and closing statements?

Enjoy and be sure to read Gary’s review!

(And also be sure to read Jedadiah Leland’s tribute to Criswell!)

(On another note: Watch this as quickly as you can because, over the least year or so, it seems like all the films of Ed Wood get yanked off YouTube as soon as they are posted.  Copyright violations, they say.  Personally, I think that’s shameful.  First off, Ed Wood is no longer alive.  Wood had no children and his widow died in 2006, having never remarried.  Whatever money is being made off of his films is not going to support his family.  Wherever he is, I think Ed would be more concerned that people see his films than some faceless corporation make money off of them.)

(It seems like, every year, someone threatens to either remake Plan 9 or produce a sequel.  Again, the original is all that is needed.)

Scenes that I Love: Bela Lugosi Says “Pull the string!” In Glen Or Glenda


“PULL THE STRING!  PULL THE STRING!”

Hi, everyone!  Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s October and we’ve pulled the string here at the Shattered Lens!  Welcome to the annual TSL Horrorthon!  For the next 31 days, TSL is going to be home to everything that makes October our favorite month of the year!

So, here’s Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda, performing the opening ceremony of the season: