Ever since screenwriter David Newman wrote it up for a Film Comment article on his “Guilty Pleasures,” this grungy exploitation film from 1953 has been a staple of the underground screening circuits. The director, Edward D. Wood, was himself a transvestite (he boasted of wearing women's underwear throughout his hitch in World War II), and apparently he meant his film as a heartfelt appeal for understanding. But what emerges, after a cackling Bela Lugosi has been intercut with the slim plotline, is something rather more bizarre. Wood's later Plan 9 From Outer Space is, if anything, even weirder—the man had a definite genius for imaginative miscalculation. 67 min.
By Dave Kehr