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Ed Wood's Universe

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11-01-2000
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Ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, Edward D. Wood, Jr., bad movie king, had a tinge of genius? Shudder if you will, but consider it. Modern indie filmmaker Kevin Smith has taken at least one of Wood's narrative devices: a consistent universe.

A consistent universe involves a series of movies that are not sequels, but have at least one recurring character or location. Films contained in a consistent universe do not usually contradict, and may, on occasion, refer to each other. They basically create one world in which all the films are set.

Anyway, now that we've gotten the boring definitions out of the way, we can concentrate on the article proper. Briefly, to avoid confusion of any sort, I will touch on the way Smith uses the consistent universe. Every movie he's directed has featured Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), a pair of New Jersey losers. On a horror-related note, the dunderheaded duo also appear in Scream 3, making Wes Craven's series a part of Smith's so-called View Askewniverse.

However, I'm not so much concerned with Smith (whose work I enjoy a lot) as I am Ed Wood (whose work I enjoy a lot more). One who is of the firm belief that Wood is incapable of a single competent thought needs to get a reality check, because nobody is completely inept, not even poor Ed. The consistent universe concept, even if it's more accidental than not, is a perfect example.

I have dubbed Wood's universe the Loboverse... simply because Wood and I both share a fondness for hulking bald manservants. The Loboverse consists mostly of Los Angeles and the surrounding area (with a smattering of Washington D.C.), but this is a strange version of it. This is a place where night can turn to day and back within 5 minutes, where house construction involves a generous helping of cardboard, and where aliens wear silk pajamas. Welcome to an alternate universe where everyday joes spout longwinded philosophical dialouge without warning, and where gravestones can be knocked over with a light tap of the foot.

The films involved in the Loboverse are:

Bride of the Monster (BM)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (P9)
Night of the Ghouls (NG)
Orgy of the Dead (OD)

All of these were written or co-written by Wood, and all but OD were directed by him. Interestingly enough, all but OD are immensely enjoyable as alternative cinema. I could go on to say that only Wood's unique form of ineptness truly works in the Loboverse, but I'll hold my tongue.

Here's a brief Who's Weird for recurring characters in the Loboverse:

Kelton the Cop (Paul Marco)
Though he didn't get a major role until NG, Kelton the Cop is an integral part of the Loboverse, having blundered his way through 3 Wood films, first as a desk cop in BM, then as the back-up in P9, and finally as the secondary hero in NG.

Lobo (Tor Johnson)
Hulking mute manservant in BM, hulking mute radiation-scarred manservant in NG. Has a deep caring for pretty girls, and will revolt against an unfair master. By far my favorite recurring character.

Criswell/Lord of the Dead (Criswell)
Narrator of P9 who dies, apparently, between that and NG, to become Lord of the Dead, an otherworldly guide who raves about "monsters to be feared, and monsters to be despised." In OD, he acts as the judge of the damned for a bevy of topless dancers, each one pleaing for their soul.

Woman in Black (Vampira, Jeannie Black)
First appeared as Ghoul Woman (Vampira) in P9, and then melting away to bone, the Woman in Black was resurrected by phoney mystic Dr. Acula in NG, and given a different actress (Black). Though mute in the first two films, she talks way too much in OD, where she also gets a name of sorts, Ghoulita.

Wood was a fairly atrocious director with a talent score in the negatives, but he was also, in a strange way, the brilliant overseer of a world of his own device. I have yet to see Glen or Glenda? but I'm sure it is also a Loboverse film. In any case, if you can't see the bit of genius in Wood's work, it must be your stupid mind. Stupid! Stupid!

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