So, I’ve read Kevin Murphy’s A Year at the Movies. I kind of expected this book to be similar to that; essays about twenty-five terrible films. Instead, Frank Conniff uses each film to start an essay on a tangentally-related subject. So, don’t read this looking for in-depth analyses of the films used as chapter titles.
That said, it’s a very entertaining book. Sometimes, it’s good to have expectations challenged.
There were a few surprises in this book, which elevate it to something more akin to a love letter to movies, good and bad. Mixed in with the hilarious, rambling essays about terrible movies is a poignant tribute to filmmaker Ed Wood. It was surprising to see this after so many diatribes and rants, but Frank Conniff is absolutely right: though Ed Wood lacked talent, he did not lack passion for his craft. He had the soul of an artist trapped in the body of a man who had not a shred of artistic talent. Ed Wood was a geek auteur in an era where being anything other than a cisgendered, straight, white male, was a recipe for ostracization, scorn, and often worse. Yet, Ed Wood made his movies anyway, and made them his way, as best he could.
Of course, there is an almost obligatory apology for Manos: The Hands of Fate (an infamous movie riffed on MST3K which arguably would still be rotting in obscurity were it not for the show). Thanks, Frank, we appreciate that!