Saturday, March 23, 2019

School Daze

This is my entry for the M. Emmet Walsh Blogathon hosted by Dubsism

School days!  I remember going to college back in the 80's.  For the first couple of years it was a real party.  Partly because I was just going to avoid the responsibility of getting a real job.  Of course, until I moved away from home (the first two years I went to a jr. college about 10 miles away and just commuted), it didn't really turn into a real party atmosphere.

When I moved to San Marcos to go to what was then still known as Southwest Texas State University (now just Texas State University), I lived on campus.  And I lived in the freshman dorm.  Which meant I was old enough to buy beer, while the rest of the freshman I lived with were still under age.  Yes, I admit I was a bad influence because anytime any of them asked me, I went to get their beer and alcohol for them.  Which made me a pretty popular guy (if only because I could accommodate them.  I hold no illusions that they actually would have liked me if I was the same age as them.)

But I spent an entire year at the top floor of Jackson Hall. The 12th floor was where they put all the malcontents who were disruptive of the quieter floors.  I fit in like a glove.  If I had been rich, like Thornton Melon, I might have even tried to re-adapt the floor to be more conducive to more of a party atmosphere, but I made do with what I had. 

Back to School (1986):

What do you do when your son wants to drop out of college because he can't hack it?  Probably have a good heart-to-heart talk with him and tell him to buck up.  (At least I would.)  OK.  What do you do if you are an obnoxious but rich man whose son tells you he wants to chuck it all and just get a job?  Well, if you are Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield), the owner of a prominent line of clothing for people of, shall we say, prominent size, (aka "Tall and Fat Stores"), you join him in his endeavor by coming the world's oldest freshman.

Thornton's son, Jason (Keith Gordon), has been lying to his father all this time.

He is not, as he claimed, on the swim team.  He is an accomplished swimmer, as was Thornton in his day, but Jason failed to impress the coach, Coach Turnbull (M. Emmet Walsh).  (Possibly due to his lack of interest in actually succeeding in college, but that's just speculation on my part...)

 Instead, he is just a towel boy at the gym.  Where he is harassed by Chas Osbourne (William Zabka), the star or the university's swim team.  (Zabka made a name for himself early in his acting career playing elitist snobbish bullies and is pretty much the same here.)

Jason is also not a member of the fraternity scene, which he also told his father he was. So in fact, Jason has been living a lie, and when he decides he wants to drop out, it was only inevitable.  But Thornton, who himself had gone through a similar situation in his childhood, wants to discourage Jason from taking that route.  His solution is to join Jason as a student.

Of course, being rich, but not having the pedigree of education that most of the incoming students have, Thornton has to find a way to get admitted, and that solution is being the benefactor of a new business college building.  In other words, a bribe.  Dean Martin (Ned Beatty), whose eye is only on the bottom line, accepts the "bribe", to the dismay of Dr. Phillip Barbay (Paxton Whitehead), the head of the business college. (Another elitist snob).

Of course, Thornton doesn't take the endeavor seriously.  Coming from a background that would allow him to bribe his way into college, he also does things that would get any other student expelled.  Including hiring Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. to write his essay on the works of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.  And having his personal secretary show up in his class to take notes for him, while he is presumably occupied with extracurricular activities.

But he does manage to convince Coach Turnbull to give Jason a second look, and he does it without any untoward activities.  Jason actually is pretty good, which would not be surprising since Thornton himself was a star stunt diver at Coney Island in his youth.  (Whether you accept Rodney Dangerfield as a star diver or not...)

Robert Downey, Jr. makes one of his earliest appearances in a movie here as Derek Lutz, a malcontent who shines as Jason's best friend and roommate.

Terry Farrell, who went on to play Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, also makes an appearance as Valerie Desmond, the love interest of both Jason and Chas.

One of his teachers, Prof. Turgidson (Sam Kinison) is a real gung-ho history teacher.  Kinison essentially adapts his stage comedy act for the role, but his scenes are some of the highlights in the film for me.

And Sally Kellerman plays Dr. Turner,  an English professor who sparks a real May-December romance between her and Thornton.  (Dangerfield was actually 16 years older than Kellerman, but he looks older by at least 10 more years... Talk about robbing the cradle...)

 Life on campus, as far as Thornton is concerned, is a party party weekend.  Until it comes down to midterms and Thornton is on the verge of flunking out.  And thoroughly alienating his son, who has had a change of heart and decided to buckle down and drive toward his degree.  It comes down to a situation where Thornton has to face his entire body of teachers and prove that he has learned what he has supposedly learned during the semester.  Which of course, he hasn't.  But with the help of his son and his favorite teacher and some long cram sessions, he might just pull it off.

Never underestimate the ambition of a man to succeed.  A Dangerfield comedy typically has the common everyday loser trying to get ahead in an unfamiliar atmosphere, and this one is sure to entertain (unless, of course, you are a professor in a university who takes his or her job very seriously.  If you don't have a sense of humor about the education process, this one might annoy rather than entertain you...)

Time to fire up the Plymouth.  If I had taken the college life more seriously, it might have been a BMW, but such as it is...)  Drive safely, folks.


The Cat Gets the Cheese

The campy Batman TV series from the 60's is one of my favorite shows.  I was watching syndicated reruns of this show back in the early 70's.  (I was alive when the original show aired, but I was way too young, so I don't remember if I watched it when it was on network TV, but probably not.  I would have only been 5 or 6).  When I was growing up, there were only three major networks and no cable.  So TV stations would air a two hour block of syndicated reruns between 3 and 5pm.  It was a ritual to come home and watch the block, called "Dialing for Dollars".

During "Dialing for Dollars", the network would air old syndicated shows like Batman, Bewitched, I Love Lucy and Gilligan's Island, and in between, Norman Bennett, the weatherman on the local KXII news program and, I found out, also a high school math teacher, would come on and call people who had signed up for the promotion.  If they could tell him the exact amount in the kitty at that moment, they would win the prize money.  Otherwise, the prize kitty would increase and would continue until the next commercial break.  (BTW, if you've seen Tender Mercies or Terms of Endearment or a smattering of other movies, you've seen Bennett.  He went on to acting after his stint at KXII.)

Batman had a unique format in it's heyday.  For the most part, each episode was a two-parter, and the episodes would run on consecutive nights.  You tuned in on the first night and Batman and Robin did derring-do against the week's guest villain, always ending in a cliffhanger with the Dynamic Duo facing a seemingly imminent death.  Of course, on the following night, they would escape and eventually defeat the villain.  The show became so popular in Hollywood that many of the current stars lobbied for roles as the guest villain.  (Of course the villain roles were limited, but the studio still found a way to accommodate the stars.  That's why frequently you would see such Jerry Lewis, Don Ho and Dick Clark pop out of windows as Batman and Robin climbed up sides of buildings).

Batman (TV series) "Hot Off the Griddle"/"Cat and the Fiddle" (original air date: Sept. 14-15, 1966)

The episode opens, as was usual, with a crime being committed in the seemingly peaceful metropolis of Gotham City.  First a CATalog is stolen from a department store, second a model of a CATamaran is stolen from a nautical club and third three pairs of mittens are stolen from a rich man's apartment.  Although somewhat dimwitted on occasion Chief O'Hara (Stafford Repp) and Commissioner Gordon (Neil Hamilton) come to the conclusion that obviously Catwoman (Julie Newmar) is back in town.

Of course the two are, as usual, completely incapable of dealing with the really devious minded criminals.  (Or maybe they just like taking the easy way out).  So they call on Batman and Robin.  The Dynamic Duo devise a plan to capture Catwoman by planting a story in the newspaper about a rare canary on exhibit.

Unfortunately they choose to release the story through columnist Jack O'Shea (Jack Kelly), a malcontent gossip columnist.  Bad idea, since O'Shea is in cahoots with Catwoman.  He tells her about the plan to capture her.  And Batman and Robin are foiled.

The Dynamic Duo are led by one of Catwoman's henchmen to her hideout, a nightclub called "The Pink Sand Box" where they are captured by Catwoman and put on a griddle to fry in the sun, leading to this episodes cliffhanger (and to my absolute favorite of one of Robin's "Holy ..." catchphrases).  After being informed the are have been coated in butter to help along the frying process, Robin moans "Holy oleo" to which Catwoman responds "I didn't know you could yodel."

Of course, Batman and Robin escape, due to a convenient eclipse of the sun and Batman's knowledge of esoteric subjects like math and geometry.  The second half of the episode involves an intricate plan by Catwoman to get a chunk of money.  She kidnaps a wealthy woman, Minerva Matthews (who was also played by Newmar).  Matthews was going to buy a pair of rare Stradivarius violins from Zubin Zucchini (David Fresco).  They arrange to meet in a penthouse room .  Catwoman, disguised as Minerva, takes the cash to the room via an armored car (driven by a very young James Brolin).  (She didn't just want only the money.  If she had, it seems she could just have ditched the armored guard and taken off with the loot.  But she also must have the violins).

Unfortunately, Batman and Robin are on to her scheme.  Instead of meeting with Zucchini himself, it turns out she has met with Robin in disguise and thus ensues the ultimate battle.

As usual, Batman and Robin save the day.   The thrill of the Batman series was never really the battle, at least for me.  The basic thrill of the series was the dialogue, especially Batman and Robin's repartee that sounds like it's been lifted from a low-rent episode of Leave it to Beaver.  Bruce Wayne (or Batman) admonishing Dick Grayson (or Robin) for lapses in adult thinking and Robin always responding with something like "Gosh, Bruce, you're right.  I'll never mix gasoline and Tide detergent again..."  And then of course, those ubiquitous "Holy..." of Robin's.  It's always fun just to see what new ones the writers came up with for each episode.

 Well folks, time to go home, The theater is closing.  Drive safely.


Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Legend of Matheson

This is my entry in the Richard Matheson Blogathon hosted by Wide Screen World and Moon in Gemini

"The last man on Earth sat alone in a room.  There was a knock at the door..."  (The shortest horror story ever written).

This is the story of a man and his (arguably) masterpiece of speculative fiction.

Richard Matheson (1926-2013) was one of the most prolific authors of the 20th century.  He was a favorite of Rod Serling who used Matheson's stories or original teleplays for no less than 16 episodes of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone, beginning with  the 11th episode of the first season ("And the Sky Was Opened", based on Matheson's short story, Disappearing Act.)  An incomplete list of Matheson's output for TZ would also include what eventually became the fan favorites of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", "The Invaders". "Nick of Time", "Third from the Sun" and my personal favorite "Once Upon a Time".

Not only are his short stories fodder for film adaptation, several of his novels have made it to the big and small screen.  The Incredible Shrinking Man?  That was Matheson.  The Legend of Hell House?  Matheson.  What Dreams May Come?  Also by Matheson.  And for you romantic ladies (and men), Somewhere in Time, the Christopher Reeve / Jane Seymour movie was based on a Matheson book.  Plus such TV series as Rod Serling's follow up to The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery went to the Matheson well, as well did The Outer Limits, the Showtime series Masters of Horror and even a British TV series, Journey to the Unknown.

Matheson's third novel (the first two are largely unknown and probably forgotten by most people except real Matheson completists) was a book called I am Legend, the story of one man left alone in a world that is full of vampires.  (That was the original novel premise.  More on the movie adaptations and what they changed later.)  The novel, as indicated in the heading of the first chapter of the book takes place about a half a year after some catastrophe has drastically changed the human race.  It is never really explained, but sometime late in 1974 some disease started to kill off the human population of Earth.  (The events of the novel start 5 months after the events in January of 1976).

In the book, Robert Neville, a former factory worker (although that is pure speculation based on some bits of text, we never really know what Neville did before), is holed up in his house where he manages  to survive.  He goes out at daytime looking for surviving victims of the plague or whatever it is, the survivors having been turned into vampires.  For most of the novel he is alone, except for the vampires who continually show up outside his door each night shouting for him to "come out, Neville!"

Eventually Neville does try to learn a bit about the nature of the beast, such as it is.  For instance what makes the vampires detest garlic?  Why do they avoid mirrors?  Why are some of them afraid of the Christian cross, but others are not?  (He discovers that particular thing is only true of Christian vampires, but also discovers that Jewish vampires, while not deterred by a cross are deterred by a Torah, and Islamic vampires shy away from a Koran.)  He spends much of the novel trying to investigate what the origin of the plague that killed off most of the population and turned the rest into vampires.  Fortunately for him he has a whole library of book nearby to aid in his quest, but the reality is at the end he doesn't understand it any better than he did when he started. (Note: Unlike the movies, in the novel Neville was NOT formerly connected to anything in the science field).

When Hollywood came to call, they were interested in the one man against the rest of the world concept.  Unfortunately, as will be seen, they really didn't care about the vampires as much as they did about the idea of plague victims.  Throughout all three versions that hit the theaters, the "vampires" morphed into something else entirely.  For instance, in the Heston movie "The Omega Man", the enemy pretty much is just a radical religious sect of people who suffered deformities caused by the plague.  You really even couldn't call them zombies.  Sure, they are seeking the blood of Heston's Neville, but only for retribution from the harm he and the scientists have caused which made the world as desolate as it is, not as an element of survival.

The Last Man On Earth (1964):

The problem I have with The Last Man on Earth, aside from the subpar acting on nearly everybody's part, including, unfortunately, Vincent Price, is the fact that the plague victims are supposed to be vampires (witness the garlic, mirrors and stakes through the heart), but they act more like zombies.  (In fact this movie was one of the noted inspirations for George Romero's classic zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead, so that should tell you something.)

The movie changed the main character's name from Neville to Morgan.  THe original script was written by Matheson himself from his novel.  When casting came around, Matheson saw the Morgan/Neville character as a virile, macho he-man.  He was leaning towards Jack Palance as his odds on favorite to play his novel's hero, but casting decided to go with Vincent Price.  Although Matheson agreed that Price was a good actor, he was not what Matheson viewed his character as being.

That in itself would have been discouraging, but the producers added insult to injury by bringing in another scriptwriter, William F. Leicester, to make changes in the script.  The result was that Matheson asked that his name be removed from the credits, opting to use the pseudonym of "Logan Swanson".

Of the three "official" versions of the book, The Last Man on Earth is the least interesting.  It's not entirely bad, however.  Just the quality suffers a little.  (and it doesn't help that Rome, the setting for this version,  doesn't look a bit like the Los Angeles of the following two movies or the setting of the novel).

The Omega Man (1971):

Charlton Heston is Neville, the star of the movie.  He plays a military scientist who, through a series of unfortunate events, becomes immune to the virus that has turned the rest of the world into albino religious nuts.  He goes out by day, hunting the plague victims and holes up in his penthouse at night while the plague victims, led by Anthony Zerbe, assail his fortress.  The basic premise of the novel of them being vampires was rejected in favor of them being just creatures who can't see in the daylight.  And instead of them seeking the blood of Heston for survival, they are only out to take out the last remaining member of a society that caused the plague to befall the Earth in the first place.

One of the added features is that Zerbe has formed a "Family", a pseudo-religious cult that seeks to eradicate all remaining evidences of advanced technology, which they see as evil.  As such, when at one point Neville is captured by the Family, they sentence him to be burned at the stake, much like the witches of Salem.  He is rescued by what turns out to be a crew of remaining members of the former world who, although not immune to the plague, have managed to stay free from it for the past year or two.  They are holed up in the outskirts of the town, and one member of the group, Lisa (Rosalind Cash), has a brother  Ritchie whom she thinks can be saved from the plague by Neville.

In this part we also see a change from the original novel.  In the novel, Neville never actually finds any survivors (although he briefly does hook up with a woman who may or may not be what she seems.)  The movie has to have a happier ending, so indeed there is some hope for the future at the end.  This is Hollywood sticking its fingers in the pie, because at the end of the novel it appears that there is no hope for a return to a society that Neville would call normal.

(For a more in-depth insight into this movie, see my review of The Omega Man that I wrote a few years ago.)

I Am Legend (2007):

Once again, Neville is cast as a true scientist.  Will Smith garnered the role, and he searches for a cure to the plague. The original plague was started by an altruistic scientist who had morphed a virus into a supposed 100% cure for cancer.  Once again altruistic science goes awry, as it often does in apocalyptic fiction, and the cure takes on a life of it's own, turning it's people into pseudo vampires.  (Vampires whose bite transfers the virus to it's victims.)  This particular version comes as close as it gets to transferring the book's vampires to film, although in this film the "vampires" are barely sentient, more like animals.

This version benefits from a bigger budget in many ways.  First the CGI vampires are much more menacing than actors in make-up could do.  It was also a pretty good choice when Will Smith came on board as Neville.  (A far cry from the original expected star;  rumors circulated that when the idea of a remake came about 10 years earlier, Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to be cast in the lead.  This rumor was accepted about as reluctantly by Matheson's fan base as the decision to cast Michael Keaton as Batman was prior to that movie's premiere.)

In all three movies, there is a happy ending of sorts in that the main character manages to pass on a cure to the plague before his own untimely death.  As stated before this is Hollywood's finger in the pie.  The novel was not so optimistic.

As a footnote, there was also a made for direct to video movie I Am Omega, which was released basically to cash in on the then current release of I Am Legend, but since I never found a copy of it prior to press time I can't tell you much about it.

Drive home safely, folks.  And be careful of whom you see on the road.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Duck Out of Water

This is my third entry in the So Bad It's Good Blogathon hosted by Taking Up Room

In the 70's, a new "hero" appeared on the comic book scene.  Marvel Comics presented the ultimate character from another world in the guise of an anthropomorphic  duck, a character from a world in which the duck, rather than the ape, was the dominant species of the planet.  In the comic book universe, Howard, a citizen of Duckworld, is kidnapped by an evil alien and deposited on Earth.

Howard first came to awareness of the comic book reading audience in an issue of Man-Thing, but eventually got his own comic book.  Created by Steve Gerber, the character had many adventures and eventually, George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, latched on to the series and became infatuated with the idea of making a movie of the character.

Although initially it was going to be an animated character (apparently along the same lines as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which had live action people interacting with animated characters), this idea was eventually shelved in favor of having animatronic ducks as well as actors in duck suits.  (The reason, as stated in a DVD featurette, was that the time limits prevented the animated idea, because the studio wanted a summer release, and animation would have required a couple of years of production).

Howard the Duck was a box-office bomb, in the extreme.  It barely made back it's budget.  This despite the fact that it had George Lucas' name attached to it.  Critics, to a man, panned it.  And it wasn't accepted by movie audiences very well at the time, either.  Although some audience members loved it, others didn't get the concept.  Surely most of it was due to the story line, because Lea Thompson and Jeffrey Jones are great in it.  It also features an early performance by Tim Robbins, who was nominated for a Razzie for his performance.  But I disagree with the Razzie committee.  I think Robbins is a hoot in it.

Like Xanadu, history has been kind to Howard the Duck in the ensuing years.  Yes it is considered one of the worst movies of all time, but it has it's share of devotees who really enjoy it. 

Howard the Duck (1986):

There is life in the universe beyond that of Earth.  But not all life takes on a humanoid appearance.  A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away life on a planet evolved not from apes, but from ducks.  On Duckworld, Howard (played by Ed Gale, among others, and voiced by Chip Zien) comes home from a long day at work.  While relaxing in his recliner he is drawn into a vortex which eventually deposits him in Cleveland.

In Cleveland he ends up meeting Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson), who takes him in to her apartment after he rescues her from a pair of would-be assailants.  Beverly is the lead singer of a group called "Cherry Bomb", along with Ronette (Liz Sagal), K.C. (Holly Robinson) and Cat (Dominique Davalos).

Beverly takes Howard to see a friend she knows who she thinks is a scientist (but who is essentially just a dimwitted lab assistant), Phil Blumburrt (Tim Robbins).  Howard is not impressed, especially since Phil seems to be on some sort of comic book wave-length, and tries to get Howard to show some sort of alien super powers he thinks Howard has.

Howard and Beverly part ways in a pique of animosity and Howard tries to find his way in his new world.  But of course he is the stranger in a strange land and fails.  He eventually ends back up in Beverly's world, where he uses his adeptness at "quack fu" to convince her sleazeball manager, Ginger (Tommy Swerdlow) to give up his rights to her musical career.

Phil shows back up in Howard's life with a real scientist, Dr. Jennings (Jeffrey Jones) who has a line on what happened to Howard and a plan on how to get him back to his own world.

But a mishap in the laboratory ends up drawing in a demon, called the Dark Overlord,  which inhabits Dr. Jennings body and proceeds to make an effort to draw in the rest of his compadres to take over the Earth.

Watching Jones transformation from Dr. Jennings into the evil alien is part of what makes this movie so bad it's good.  You have to see it to believe it.  Howard becomes the unwitting hero as he and Phil and Beverly try to prevent the Dark Overlord from achieving his goals, which may not be as easy as it seems.  Especially after the demon deserts Jennings body for his real form.

Well folks, time to get this old Plymouth rolling again.  I have an appointment with destiny.  Somewhere in Washington, D.C. there is a politician trying to take over the world with some outlandish policies.  I think he may really be an alien in disguise.  Drive safely folks.


Friday, February 22, 2019

Ed Wood Haunts My Dreams (Still)

This is my second entry in the So Bad, It's Good Blogathon hosted by Taking Up Room

Note:  Way back at the beginning I inaugurated this blog with a tribute to Ed Wood.  If you have been reading ever since, maybe you've had time to get over that harrowing experience, so it's time to throw another Wood tribute at you.

Ed Wood, Jr. had a symbiotic relationship with Bela Lugosi.  Both needed something from the other, and although the relationship was friendly, both tended to use the other to achieve a personal goal.  As depicted in the Tim Burton loving biopic Ed Wood, Lugosi had fallen on hard times.  He was a morphine addict and could not get work in Hollywood, his metier of classic horror having fallen out of fashion.  Wood was a struggling wanna-be director, but he was not getting much success at getting jobs in his chosen profession.  When the two met it was a match made in heaven (or that oither place depending on how you feel about Wood, or Lugosi for that matter...)

In 1953, the two met and Wood saw his chance.  He had recently approached George Weiss, a purveyor of low-budget sleaze to direct a potential film about the life of Christine Jorgensen.  Jorgensen had had a sex-change operation that transformed her from a man, George Jorgensen, into Christine.  Plans for the movie about Jorgensen fell through when she threatened to sue if it was done.  Undeterred, Weiss hired Wood to write and direct a movie, already titled I Changed my Sex, just without any references to Jorgensen.

Instead, Wood decided to make his own story, about transvestitism (men who wear women's clothing).  Since Wood himself was an aficionado of doing the same, this turned the film into a more personal story.    He cast himself as the star of the film, under the credit of "Daniel Davis", and cast his new-found friend Lugosi as a guide through the film, a somewhat bizarre combination of mad scientist and god.

Because Weiss wanted a sex-change movie, and what Wood had originally created was just a film about transvestites, Wood added a second part to the movie which covered the story of a man who actually does have an operation, but the main focus of the movie was Wood's personal plea for compassion for those who are somewhat different from the norm.  It should be noted that the film is a victim of it's own time and ethos.  At the time a man dressing as a woman could get him arrested.  Whatever your view is about the transvestite is today, society has relaxed somewhat on their view of the phenomenon.  It is no longer illegal to dress up as a member of the opposite sex, and only one's personal view of the situation has any impact at all.

The message of acceptance is there, but because Wood was a rather inept, if not enthusiastic, director, the message is sometimes lost. Wood's ability to find ways to use stock footage from the vaults to somehow emphasize his story is one of the things that can both enhance and detract from the intended message.  (A rampaging horde of buffalo?  Omly Wood himself knows what that means...)

Glen or Glenda? (1953):

In the making of this film, which deals with a strange and curious subject, no punches have been pulled-- no easy way out has been taken. Many of the smaller parts are portrayed by persons who actually are, in real life, the character they portray on the screen. This is a picture of stark realism-- taking no sides -- but giving you the facts -- ALL the facts -- as they are today... YOU ARE SOCIETY -- JUDGE YE NOT...

The movie opens on the God/Scientist (Bela Lugosi) informing the audience that sometimes things are not always what they seem to be.  Or maybe he's just being cryptic.  You decide.

Man's constant groping of things unknown, drawing from the endless reaches of time, brings to light many startling things. Startling because they seem new...sudden...but most are not new to the signs of the ages. A begun! People...all going somewhere. All with their own thoughts, their own ideas. All with their own personalities. One is wrong because he does is right because he does wrong. Pull the strings! Dance to that, which one is created for. A new day is begun. A new life is begun. A ended.

The opening is on a man dressed as a woman who lies dead, having committed suicide.  It turns that that he committed suicide because, try as he might, he couldn't resist the temptation to dress in women's clothes, despite the public outcry that such a behavior was abnormal.  (Remember, I said earlier at this time it could get you arrested if you did such things that were not considered fit for "normal" people to do.)  A police captain, Inspector warren (Lyle Talbot) approaches Dr. Alton (Timothy Farrell) to try to get some information on why any one would want to be in such an abnormal mental state.

Dr. Alton tells the inspector he has two cases in which he can illustrate the phenomena better for him.  The story of Glen (Edward D. Wood, Jr. under the screen name "Daniel Davis") constitutes most of the film.

Dr. Alton takes pains to establish that Glen is not a homosexual.  He is just a guy that derives pleasure from the feel of women's clothing on his body.  Some of this, it seems, may be attributed to a rather bizarre upbringing.  His mother wanted a daughter instead of a son, and there is some indication that Glen's father was rather in his attitude toward his son.  (Much like Wood's own childhood, if his background story is to be believed).  When Glen was a young boy he wanted to dress up as his sister for Halloween, but it didn't stop there.

Now Glen is in his thirties and on the verge of marrying his sweetheart, Barbara (Delores Fuller, who was actually Wood's significant other at the time).  Barbara doesn't know of Glen's predilection for wearing women's clothes, and Glen fears that he must actually tell her before she discovers the awful truth for herself.  He debates on whether or not to tell her before the marriage and risk having the plans for marriage come crashing down, or if he should wait until after the marriage, and thus risk alienating his new bride.  (In the parlance of the time, it's either damned if you do or damned if you don't.  There doesn't appear to be a third option where she accepts him for who he is.)

The Scientist appears again, heralding a segment of the movie in which Glen is haunted by all sorts of bizarre fetish inspired dreams.

Beware...beware! Beware of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep. He eats little boys...puppy dog tails, and big, fat snails. Beware, take care....beware!

The dream sequence seems to have been added only to titillate the viewer, although it could easily be the inspired haunting of Glen wrestling with himself over his dilemma.   Eventually Glen does decide to come clean with Barbara.   Since this is a parable of Wood's own worries about his own transvestite tendencies and not a morality play, of course she accepts his predilection, although as she says, "Maybe we can work this out".

Since the movie was supposed to be about sex change, there is an additional sequence tacked on about Adam/Anne ("Tommy" Haynes).  Adam's story also somewhat parallels Wood's own story in that he, too. wore women's underwear while fighting in WWII, with the exception that when Adam gets out of the service he does have a sex-change operation and becomes Anne.

Yeah, so if you aren't ready for really bizarre, you aren't ready for Ed Wood.  I won't even get into the soft core porn he made after his career as a mainstream director fizzled out.

Drive home safely, folks.