Angora Fever: The Collected Short Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (hardback)
BearManor Media

Angora Fever: The Collected Short Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (hardback)

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ISBN  9781629334479

Edward D. Wood, Jr. was a name forgotten in the history of Hollywood until the release of the 1994 Tim Burton biopic, Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp as Ed, and Martin Landau as the horror icon Bela Lugosi, a role for which Landau received the Academy Award.

Following service with the U.S. Marines during World War II, Ed followed his dream to Hollywood, hoping to achieve success as a movie director. Ed did realize his goal but his talents did not match his ambitions. Working with practically nonexistent budgets, he directed movies ignored in their day but have since become recognized as cult classics: Glen or Glenda, Bride of The Monster, Orgy of The Dead, and his most “infamous” production: Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Barely skimping by on his movie earnings, Ed turned to writing a series of lurid paperbacks with such titles as “Black Lace Drag”, “Let Me Die In Drag” and “Devil Girls”. His professional decline continued when he worked for a skin magazine publisher in the late 60’s, churning out copy and short fiction in prodigious amounts, an amazing accomplishment considering that by this point Ed Wood had become a serious alcoholic.

Edited and with a foreword by Bob Blackburn, a close friend of Ed’s widow Kathy, these later stories penned by Ed Wood have finally been collected in this exclusive volume.

Review by Cinepunx

Review by Plan Nine Crunch

Review by Kendra Steiner Editions

Review by Dead2Rights

Interview with Bob Blackburn

Ed Wood I



Bob Blackburn, with Kathy Wood. Bear Manor Media. Casebound hardcover, 451 pp. $38.

                 EDWARD D. WOOD, JR. DEALT IN FANTASY, and to a sad degree, he lived a fantasy, as well. He had a powerful urge to create, and an equally strong desire to succeed. During the 30 years in Hollywood that marked his most fevered activity, he wrote a play, novels, and short stories. He shot TV commercials and directed loops both blatantly sexual and ostensibly "educatonal." He delivered nearly two dozen exploitation screenplays to be directed by others. Most famously, Wood wrote, produced, and directed a half dozen "legitimate" features. The most celebrated of these, Plan 9 from Outer Space (1958), is lively and entertaining. A 1956 feature, Bride of the Monster, is similarly enjoyable. And his 1952 cross-dressing roman a' clef, Glen or Glenda?, has a startling confessional nature. But these and other Ed Wood films were exploitation, designed for quick play-offs and ill-suited to bring him real money. So Wood pounded the typewriter and he pounded the pavement too. He was a hustler-not in the predatory sense but as a person who must hustle in order to have a place to live and food to eat.

                Creative people, even those with real talent, rarely achieve significant material reward. If they're focused and lucky, they manage a professional toehold in one of the bigger cities, but even then, few can pursue their passion full time. In order to survive, many will teach or proofread or tend bar. Given these realities, two things about Ed Wood stand out: he seldom, if ever, held "day jobs" unconnected to his passions; and achieved posthumous worldwide fame for a fringe career hobbled by his alcoholism and his very modest (if uniquely bizarre) gifts as a writer. Tim Burton's 1994 biopic Ed Wood suggests a sunny, eternally optimistic man-but it's hard to be sunny when your life crumbles into pornography, cheap apartments you're unable to pay for, and the need for that next drink. Filmstar handsome as a young man, Wood grew puffy and unkempt in middle age. His second wife, Kathy, remained by his side, but when Wood's body finally gave out in 1978, Ed was only 54 years old.

                The 60 short stories collected by Bob Blackburn in Angora Fever were written for bottom-feeding, LA-based girlie magazines such as Switch Hitters, Young Beavers, Pussy Willow, and Horror Sex Tales. Off and on during the last decade of his life, Wood commuted to Pico Blvd. to labor as a staff writer for Pendulum Publications, where he cranked out still more short stories and other copy at a madman's pace. Many of his tales appeared under pseudonyms ("Ann Gora" and "Dick Trent" were favorites)-not because of embarrassment but because of his prolific nature: it just wouldn't do to credit every story to "Edward D. Wood, Jr."

                 Succinct and one-dimensional, the stories were intended to fill just two or three magazine pages augmented with art or a photo. Whatever the theme or setting, Wood was obliged to pack the tales with sex, most of it calculated to titillate straight male readers. Many plots are in the EC Comics vein, propelled by self-centered or hateful behavior that culminates in amusingly obvious ironies. See, for instance, the intimate amputations in "Blood Drains Easily," "Filth is the Name for a Tramp," and "Gore in the Alley."

                Protagonists range from wealthy (horny) businessmen to weathered (horny) cowpokes; from "luscious" (and horny) lesbians to amateur (and horny) drag queens. Some are, like Wood, ex-servicemen, fed up with the world and oblivious to risk. Wood's women are invariably insatiable, often greedy, and sometimes murderous. There is potent misogyny here, likely not a reflection of Wood's own feelings but a prerequisite for the magazine's publishers and readers. Male characters are highly sexed as well, which clouds their judgment and encourages them to fall in with the dangerous females.

                A significant number of stories reflects the male fear of lesbians, but once in a while a male character develops a broader view, like the space ship commander of "Time, Space and the Ship" who schemes to replace his crew with "butch LESBIANS!" (capital letters and exclamation point in original). Well, that's very egalitarian.

                The stories do not, however, place personal responsibility at the fore. Rather, plot twists are predicated on Fate, one of Wood's preoccupations, a device that simply lets awful things unfold, as if destined. This is the motivation of "So Soon to Be an Angel," which ends with these words: "She closed her eyes and it was all over." You can't fight it, just accept it. But did Wood believe this? No. Contrary to his own nature, Ed was telling readers not to struggle. But because he never capitulated, he saw his visions in print and on screens.

                If the 60 stories collected here did not have the Wood pedigree, no one would be reading them today. Awkwardly worded and at the lowest level of the professional scale, they are what they were meant to be: space fillers. But because we "know" Wood, the stories, in toto, achieve a kind of poignancy. All the violence and meanness aside, you can discern a world view here, at once exuberant and tragic, determined and exhausted. Although Wood did not fashion the stories to be overtly autobiographical, they are.

--David J. Hogan (Library Journal)