Tim Burton will never top Ed Wood. It’s a fact, case closed.
The passionate biopic of the infamous B-movie director and his relationship with Bela Lugosi has parallels with Burton’s own relationship with Vincent Price. Burton brings an enthusiasm to the project which makes it stand out from his other work, it’s a realistic (but quirky) black comedy that is more character based than his other efforts. The story is rich and layered with strong characters and sumptuous visuals.
Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski penned the script for this 1994 film which is based on the book Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey, and the duo get the tone just right. It pokes gentle fun at the characters in the film without being mean spirited.
Johnny Depp has never been better and the supporting cast which includes Martin Landau, Jeffrey Jones and Bill Murray sparkle. Landau won an Oscar for the film, and he delivers a heartbreaking performance as the fading star.
It’s a shame that it bombed at the box office grossing just $5 million domestically and only $11 million globally. Can you imagine a Burton/Depp effort grossing that today?
Burton’s next film was the under-rated Mars Attacks!, a ‘50s style B-movie with an A-list cast. It’s a movie that could only have been born from Burton’s submersion in the world of Ed Wood and the two films make a fantastic double bill.
If only we could get the Tim Burton who made Ed Wood back.