A newlywed in Africa reveals, through hypnosis, a previous link to her husband’s pet gorilla.
“Human prey of a giant gorilla on her wedding night!”
“Please Don’t Tell What Happens To The Bride!”
I would have liked to work at a video store. I mean back when I was a teenager, or young adult. I got my first job (not counting a paper route) when I was 16, and it was in a restaurant. At first, I mainly washed dishes, cleaned tables, and swept and mopped the floors. Eventually, I worked my way up to operating the cash register and cooking. After two or three years I switched restaurants, and continued cooking. It was while I was working at a third restaurant, that I finally hit the wall. I was tired of getting cut and burned and going home smelling like grease and smoke. I was also tired of the abusive behaviour of my bosses. Nowadays, they would call that third restaurant a “toxic work environment” – and it really was.
By chance, that horrible place was right across the parking lot from a Jumbo Video store. I used to rent movies there all the time. It was great because it was open 24 hours. No matter what time of night you had the urge to watch an obscure slasher film, or cheap action movie, you could be sure to find one there. I may have talked about this place before…
One day after work, I was waking home past Jumbo Video when I noticed a sign in the window: Help Wanted. It was like a bolt of lightning hit me. I hated my current job. Why not work at a video store?
I went right in and asked for a job application. I filled it out and then walked home like I was floating on air. How much better it would be to work at a place where I could watch movies all day – and talk about movies all day with the customers? I would never accidentally lean on a hot grill or get splashed by the molten lava inside the deep fryer. And I’d heard (oh please let this part be true) that employees of video stores get to rent movies whenever they feel like it – FOR FREE!
This was going to improve my life more than I could even imagine… Or was it?
Sadly, I never even got a call from Jumbo Video. As near as I could figure it, they must’ve looked at my work experience and seen that it was all at restaurants. “What does this guy know about renting movies?” they probably said.
I rented movies every damn day (or close to it). I watched movies on TV. I read books about movies. And I knew how to use a cash register. I would have been a great video store employee! But they never even called me…
Fast forward a few years, and an actor I had worked with brought me a sack full of movies. Maybe I’d better back up a bit. This actor, who I shall call Graham, was in a play I wrote called The Inner City Dead, which was a zombie comedy. I had named a character in that play Al Troma, as an homage to the Troma Team. Graham somehow got the idea that I liked Troma Team movies, and B -movies, and “bad” movies (what could have possibly given him that idea, I wonder?). Graham worked at a video distribution company. Not a video store, but a distributor. In other words, his company sold movies to video stores. And the office where he worked was actually set up to look like a video store. It had shelves filled with DVDs, which were basically samples of their products.
I’m not sure how it worked. Did video store owners come in and browse the shelves like customers in a video store? “Hmmm… this one looks good. I think I’ll take ten copies for Jumbo Video…”.
Man, I had thought that working in a video store would be cool. I’m not sure if this was cooler than that, or equally cool, or maybe slightly less cool, but it was certainly cooler than any minimum wage job I ever had. In any case…
Graham brought me a sack of movies that he had saved from the place where he worked. I guess they were copies of films that had never sold, and they were just going to get rid of them. He took them because they looked like fun “bad” movies, and he thought I might enjoy them. I have rarely been so moved by an act of friendship. I thanked him profusely and promised that I would indeed enjoy these movies, no matter how “bad” they turned out to be.
One of those movies was The Bride and the Beast (1958). I knew nothing about it, but right at the top off the box – in big bold letters – was the name Edward D. Wood Jr.!
If you’re reading this blog post, I probably don’t have to tell you who Edward D. Wood Jr. was. But in case you’ve just returned from a sixty year cryogenic nap, I’ll say that he is widely considered to be “the worst filmmaker of all time.” Now, this is not really the case. As I’ve been known to say, the worst filmmaker in the world is probably someone we’ve never heard of. And he or she probably makes movies that are so bad, so incomprehensible, that it’s impossible to even sit through them. Ed Wood, on the other hand, made “bad” movies that are fun to watch. So bad they’re good, you might say.
And speaking of so bad they’re good, my friend Séan Weathers and I recently had a four of five hour (!) conversation about movies that are so bad they’re good. That conversation was recorded for The Séan Weathers Show, a podcast, as well as a series of YouTube videos. I think the end result was a three and a half hour podcast, and a whole bunch of shorter, easier to digest video clips. The entire podcast is available as a video called Best of the Worst.
We also did a director’s spotlight on Edward D. Wood Jr., and talked about other films he made such as Glen or Glenda?, Bride of the Monster, Jail Bait, and Night of the Ghouls. We also talk about his life a little bit, and the brilliant movie that was made about him, Ed Wood (1994). No wonder it took almost five hours!
I can’t begin to restate everything that we said about him here, but if you feel so inclined, check out some of those videos and you’ll get a better idea of who the man was, and what his films were like.
As for The Bride and the Beast (1958), Ed Wood only co-wrote the script. Apparently it was inspired by the true story of Bridey Murphy, which was all over the newspapers at the time. They even made a movie about her called The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956). Put simply, it’s about a woman who, through hypnosis, recalls a past life that she lived as 19th-century Irishwoman. In Ed Wood’s take on it, she lived a past life as a gorilla. Much cooler, right?
The Bride and the Beast (1958) is without a doubt, #NotQuiteClassicCinema. However, it wasn’t directed by Ed Wood, so it’s not quite as “bad” as one might expect. The first 20 minutes or so seem almost “good” in a way. Or maybe I’m just a little punch-drunk after doing such a deep dive into Ed Wood’s other movies. Once the characters go to Africa, I felt myself losing interest a little bit, as the movie turned into a sub-par adventure film. I much preferred the first act, in which the newly married woman played by Charlotte Austin, has strange nightmares after an even stranger encounter with her husband’s “pet” gorilla.
Still, it’s a bad movie, and it does deliver a few good laughs, along with more than a few head-scratches. Ed Wood completists definitely must see it. His personal obsessions are on display here. The wife wears an Angora sweater, for instance. And they talk about it (see Glen or Glenda?).
So, if you’re hosting a marathon of Ed Wood movies – or apes on a rampage movies – you might want to add this one to the playlist. It probably won’t be (but then again it might be) the worst thing you’ve ever on seen on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.
“Human prey of a giant gorilla on her wedding night!”
— Angus Kohm (@AngusKohm) August 19, 2023