Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 1994. Touchstone Pictures. Screenplay by Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, based on the book Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey. Cinematography by Stefan Czapsky. Produced by Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi. Music by Howard Shore. Production Design by Tom Duffield. Costume Design by Colleen Atwood. Film Editing by Chris Lebenzon.
Stunning film biography of late B-movie filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr., that could be director Tim Burton’s masterpiece. Shot in gorgeous, sumptuous black-and-white, it stars a phenomenal Johnny Depp in the title role, a hack of a director with zero talent but grand ambition who is responsible for such hilarious anti-classics as Plan 9 From Outer Space and Bride of the Atom. Wood also had a close relationship with actress (later song lyricist) Dolores Fuller (brilliantly played by Sarah Jessica Parker), then married sweetheart Kathy O’Hara (Patricia Arquette), the only woman who never minded his frequent habit of wearing women’s clothing (including his beloved angora sweaters). Stealing the entire show is Martin Landau‘s fantastic portrayal of Bela Lugosi, who when Wood met him was living in the post-haze of his Dracula fame, dying slowly of heroin addiction in a lost suburb of Los Angeles until Wood’s adoration gave him a reason to hang on a bit longer. Landau gives the performance of his career, marvelously bringing Lugosi’s beloved mugging to the screen but also giving a powerful glimpse of the sorrow behind his frightening mask. Right up there with Landau’s work is the fantastic makeup design by Rick Baker, which brings all the ghoulish characters of the story (which also include Lisa Marie‘s delightful Vampira) to vivid life.
Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Martin Landau); Best Makeup
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition
Golden Globe Award: Best Supporting Actor (Martin Landau)
Nominations: Best Picture-Musical/Comedy; Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Johnny Depp)