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Ed Wood: Nightmare of Ecstasy (The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.) Paperback – November 1, 1994

4.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House; Rep Sub edition (November 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922915245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922915248
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #463,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jeffrey Ellis on November 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Nightmare in Ecstacy is an oral history of Edward D. Wood, Jr., the infamous filmmaker who has somewhat unfairly become known as the worst filmmaker of all time. The book's author, Rudolph Grey, tells Wood's story through the recollections of Wood's associates, a motely crew of dreamers, self-promoters, and minor celebrities who -- while clear-eyed about Wood's lack of talent -- all seem to retain a rather touching loyalty to the memory of the hapless friend. Through their recollections, we get a sad but strangely uplifting story of a professional misfit (amongst his many eccentricities, Wood's most notorious hobby was wearing women's clothing and developing a fetish for angora sweaters) who sought the approval of society the only way he could imagine -- by making it big in Hollywood! What's truly amazing is that Wood managed to produce a recognizable oevure of films that are still watched and tracked down by film lovers today. Grey's book shows how Wood managed to accomplish this while also giving us a warts-and-all portrait of one of the most unique men to ever find himself living in the usually unexplored dark corners of Hollywood. Along with revealing the true Ed Wood, the book also gives us fascinating character portraits of the gang of eccentrics that surrounded Wood -- everyone from wrestler Tor Johnson, psychic Criswell, the delightfully caustic Vampira, to the tragically declining Bela Lugosi. Grey's book becomes a valuable, vivid record of the underside of Hollywood; a portrait of the side of the entertainment capitol of the world that the rest of the world is rarely allowed to see.
Edward D. Wood, Jr. specialized in making movies that weren't really all that good.
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Format: Paperback
Born in 1924, Wood was a highly decorated WWII Marine with an itch to wear women's clothes, make movies, and drink to excess. During his lifetime he would be notorious for transvestitism and alcoholism; he would also be involved in some twenty films, all of them cheaply made, all of them remarkable for their ludicrous incompetence. At the time of his 1978 death he was a raving drunk scratching out a living by writing pornography, and his film career was considered so trivial that not a single industry trade paper bothered to run an obituary.

But time does strange things. Within a few years of his death, Wood's films began to gain a cult-following, and in 1992 Rudolph Grey published NIGHTMARE OF ECSTASY, a loosely structured "oral history" of Wood's life as related by those who knew him best: his various wives and girl friends, his actors, his employers, his friends. The book would form the basis of Tim Burton's brilliant 1994 film ED WOOD.

Wood comes off as considerably less likeable here than in Tim Burton's bio-pic, which stopped short of detailing some of his more unsavory antics--including fraud, vicious alcoholism, the occasional fit of wife-beating, and his work in pornography. The Ed Wood of the 1950s might have been fun to know, at least so long as you didn't have any money in his ventures; the Ed Wood of the 1970s, however, was someone you would might have crossed the street to avoid.

Although a number of Wood's acquaintances led solid lives and attempted to help Wood as his life spiraled out of control, by and large Wood seems to have acted as a magnet for Hollywood hustlers, riff-raff, and trash--and before too long Wood himself became indicative of Los Angeles lowlife scene.
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By A Customer on April 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
When I saw the movie Ed Wood and learned the film was based on his biography, I had to check out a copy from the library. Grey brings Wood to life in a series of interviews by those who knew him, each of course with their own view of Wood (which I think is the best way to do a biography). The different glimpses we get of Wood add up to a whole picture of a man we can make our own judgements about. If the author had just given us a litany of biographical facts (he served in the army on these dates, he graduated from this high school, etc) we would soon be bored and want to close the book. But Ed Wood was anything but a boring man. The author in fact does gives us all the biographical details of Ed Wood, through the interviews over the course of the book. I was saddened to find out he had a much sadder life than the movie indicates, and his death was even sadder. But what emerges most clearly from the book, as well as the movie (and I wonder if this is what appealed to Tim Burton), was that Ed Wood, an alcoholic who couldn't seem to escape writing porn for a living to make ends meet, cared very much for his tight circle of friends (nicknamed "Wood's Spooks" by outsiders), which included a giant Swedish wrestler, a psychic who loved to sleep in coffins, an aged and addicted Bela Lugosi (whose story is even sadder than Wood's), Vampira, and many others. Wood never judged his friends, and they never judged him, even when he directed them in his movies while dressed in a baby pink chiffon dress. This undercurrent throughout the book is what makes it endearing and worthwhile to read; how many of us have nonjudgemental friends like this? (and we don't even sleep in coffins.Read more ›
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