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Area’s haunting stillness charmed Wood

“Bride of the Monster” is a 1955 horror movie directed by the late, not-so-great, Ed Wood. As I noted in my previous column, my October Throwback Thursday movie recommendations are based on not only ties to Boulder City, but also ties to “Saturday Fright at the Movies” with Las Vegas icon Count Cool Rider (Danny Koker).

Wood was an underwhelming Hollywood hack. His movies were so bad that his reputation was not only based on his “one take is enough” attitude, but Johnny Depp starred in the 1994 biopic movie about the odd director, aptly titled “Ed Wood.”

“Bride of the Monster” was written and directed by Wood. The movie starred Bela Lugosi as Dr. Vornoff and Tor Johnson as Lobo. Filmed mostly in California, with a few scenes also around Lake Mead, “Bride of the Monster” is about a psychotic doctor who is trying to create atomic men or atomic monsters.

Out of all of Wood’s failure films, “Bride of the Monster” was the only one that actually made money. Ironically enough, this film was also one where Wood insisted on using cue cards for Lugosi out of stated concern for the actor’s memory. Lugosi was defiant and refused to use the cards on set, often improvising his lines and ignoring Wood’s writing. However, right after shooting this movie, Lugosi checked himself into a rehab center for morphine addiction.

Wood, whose birthday would have been Oct. 10, was born in New York. He was a member of the military who moved to Los Angeles in 1947 after being discharged from service. His work was often oversexed and, in 1975, the director was awarded a Golden Turkey Award for being worst director of all time.

When I watched “Bride of the Monster” on “Saturday Fright at the Movies,” I don’t remember the film being hokey, but it wasn’t scary either. Instead, the movie and backgrounds of the actors and director went underappreciated as a result of my youth.

I recently rewatched “Bride of the Monster” and found myself glued to the bad acting, comical plot and searching for — and capturing — a small blink of Lake Mead. With other scary movies filmed around Boulder City and Lake Mead, I can see why Wood and his film crew were charmed by the haunting stillness of our desert background and the eerie stillness of the our nighttime air.

The movie is one of two of my Throwback Thursday movie recommendations today. “Bride of the Monster” is a corny family-friendly Halloween movie with a short tie to the city, but “Ed Wood” with Johnny Depp is even better — but not kid-friendly. The life of Wood was complicated as the director had more dumb luck than he had talent. Even more odd? The movie about the so-called “worst director of all time” was nominated for two Academy awards and the major Hollywood stars featured in “Ed Wood,” such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Murray and Martin Landau, to name only a few, would have made the director with big screen dreams proud.

Tanya Vece is an entertainment and music writer who resides and volunteers in Boulder City. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @hollywoodwriter.

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