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Ed Wood, Mad Genius: A Critical Study of the Films Paperback – August 13, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0786439553 ISBN-10: 0786439556
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Serious study...long overdue." --VideoScope

"Fascinating reading" --Standard-Examiner

About the Author

Rob Craig has been writing about cult film for more than twenty years. His work has been published in such magazines as Videoscope, Screem and Horror-Wood. He lives in Stevenson, Connecticut.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (August 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786439556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786439553
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,649,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rob G. on January 8, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an interesting, though flawed, book. While I enjoy the unintentional chuckles of Z grade horror and sci-fi, I also believe there was often better filmmaking going on than critics and contemporary audiences give credit. Craig's book operates with this assumption. The Mad Genius in the title isn't just jacket copy, it's really the concept this book is based around. While it's interesting to see these films given a serious, academic dissection, I couldn't help feeling the author was giving Wood more credit than he really deserves. As much as I tried, I just couldn't accept the idea of The Sinister Urge as a Dworkin-esque feminist manifesto or Plan 9 as a Brechtian masterpiece of epic theater. Additionally, the author's language becomes slightly repetitious by about the halfway point, making this book a bit of a slog to finish. Still, kudos to Mr. Craig for writing this, even if I don't entirely buy what he's selling. I look forward to reading his book on Larry Buchanan (who is close to my favorite of the "bad" directors) if it ever comes to the Kindle.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James S. Brummel on July 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The whole "worst filmmaker" thing really gets my goat. Is it really fair to compare Wood's films, say,
Plan 9, shot in 4 days for $20,000, to movies with at least 10X the budget? To me his films are not bad as in low quality or inept. They are handicapped by poverty. To me bad is when a big company with oodles of money gets behind a film like "Body of Evidence" with Madonna or "Hotel New Hampshire" (the only movie I ever walked out on).

Wood is my hero. Against all odds he made movies that people still watch and enjoy. Try watching "When Harry Met Sally" or anything else that was huge 15 years ago. Yech.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Oravitz on April 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Let's be serious, Ed Wood made bad films. Period. Any title with both Ed Wood and genius in it is sure to draw raised eyebrows, even if the genius is declared "mad".
So kudos to Rob Craig because he actually cared enough about his subject matter to treat Wood in an intellectual perspective. I'm no Wood basher, and feel he's been given the proverbial short end of the stick. Wood made films for next to nothing and they got distribution! Considering the resources available, he did quite well. I would be proud to be able to do the same.
And yes, I laugh at Ed Wood's films. They can't help to bring a chuckle or four. But I will agree that Wood's films are sheer entertainment and fun to watch! I've seen any of Wood's films far more times than THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS or 8-1/2. And it's really great to see that Craig has written a thoughtful book about Ed Wood and his films, not to mock Wood or poke fun at his shortcomings, but to seriously evaluate Wood's work for what it is.
Craig makes many insightful comments and his book is no fanzine. This is a well written book and if you're thinking about purchasing it but might be afraid that this is just some cheap-jack idol worshipping waste of time, rest assured, this is quality stuff and there's alot to be gleaned here.
I knock off one star because the publisher, McFarland, has put together a somewhat cheaply bound edition and is yet charging a fairly sizable price. The print itself and the photos are great and the book is good sized and looks wonderful. It's just that the glued binding appears shoddy, though mine has held together through reading.
All in all, if you love 1950's b&w sci-fi horror low budget exploitation films, or if you're a big Wood fan or just curious, I readily recommend this purchase as a must have! Enjoy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael W. Limberg on December 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Rob Craig's book on the films of Ed Wood is a very entertaining read, and does make several good points about how Ed Wood was, in fact, an artist and that his films are certainly not the "worst" films ever made. Unfortunately, Craig flies to the OTHER extreme, and in doing so gives Wood far too much credit and makes the common mistake of reading too much into films. For example, the suggestion that the terrible lab sets in Bride of the Monster were fake on purpose as a "nod by Wood to Brechtean theatre" is patently absurd. Obviously, they were fake because Wood had very little money and just wasn't too concerned with such details (a fact driven home by the fact that the door to Lugosi's house in the film changes when you see from the outside and then from the inside!).
Despite the completely over-the-top credit given to Wood (making him out to be some kind of genius student of philosophy) the book is still quite entertaining. Admittedly, however, it is often the somewhat hilarious lengths that Craig goes to make Wood out to be a Stanley Kubrick-caliber filmmaker that make much of the book so entertaining. At times, you feel you are the butt of a joke that is meant to prove that using pretentious film theory ANYTHING can be made to sound brilliant. I love these films, but a little more honesty and a scaling back on all the silly philosophical drivel would make for a more realistic and better book on the films of Ed Wood. At times, much of what Craig says is quite interesting (even when it clearly wasn't what Ed Wood was intending) and he makes a lot of good points. I just always have a problem with writers who try and convince me that things like bad acting, fake sets, lousy special effects and terrible dialouge are done ON PURPOSE to make some kind of intellectual statement.
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