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Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Art and Life of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  440 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Book by Rudolph WOOD(Subject); Grey
Paperback, 231 pages
Published 1992 by Feral House
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Apr 03, 2008 Sean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who don't even know who Ed Wood was.
I found the format of this book to be very annoying. There is no narrative, only excerpts from interviews taken from various people on various areas of Ed Wood's life. If you are a fan of Ed Wood the film then most of the information in this book will not be new to you. I was expecting a lot more from this book and it did not deliver. I would only suggest reading this if you absolutely do not know anything about Ed Wood. If you are already familiar with Mr. Wood I'd steer clear of this one.
Nov 19, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: psychotronic movie fans!
Shelves: hollywoodbabylon
Great book, even if you hate Ed Wood movies there's still tons of great photos and greater stories of the sleazy B-movie craze of the 1950's. Not as cuddly as the Johnny Depp portrayal, he pretty much became a Bukowski stew-bum drunk in the Hollywood scene in the 1970's writing porn. This book never gets boring!
Feb 03, 2017 Zedsdead rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zedsdead by: Tim Lehnerer
Pics and interview segments about the life of Ed Wood.

My biographobia defeated my Ed Wood curiosity in straight sets. Read 20 pages, bounced around the rest of the book for a half hour over lunch, threw in the towel.

The book's a lot darker than the Tim Burton movie. Wood was an alcoholic wife-beater on top of being a gloriously terrible underrated hack.
While this book calls itself the "authoritative biography," it's really just a collection of interviews with people who knew Ed Wood and worked with him.Having said that, if you only know Ed from Tim Burton's wonderful biopic, then get ready to have your eyes opened. Certainly, Ed was a compulsive filmmaker -- he loved writing, producing and directing his own stuff, and his enthusiasm for his work is inspiring -- but he lived and drank hard, eventually spiralling into making sleazy porn flicks a ...more
Feb 07, 2008 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A joy to read. If you have any interest at all in the films of Edward D. Wood, Jr., this is an essential part of your library. Filled with great interviews and illustrations.
Willow Redd
Feb 03, 2017 Willow Redd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
This book was not what I was expecting. Which I probably should have expected given the subject.

Instead of a standard biography that follows chronologically through the live of Edward D. Wood, Jr, we are instead presented with a series of interviews from the people who knew him best. These interviews from friends and family are put in a rough order, but more based on the subject matter of the moment instead of any distinct timeline of events. This can throw the reader for a loop, as it did me, w
Jan 06, 2010 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of bad / low-budget movies, I became a aware of Ed Wood's odd work in my early 20s.

To say that some people are fans of Ed Wood specifically isn't really the case. That would be like saying there are actually people out there who are fans of generic, knock-off toys found in the dollar stores across the land. No one really wants that stuff, but sometimes you just end up with it in front of you instead of the good stuff, and sometimes those second-rate items can be fun enough to play with
Clare O'Beara
Feb 22, 2016 Clare O'Beara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, america-fact
A friend who liked the cult black and white B movies loaned me this book. The photos were surprising; a film director wearing fluffy angora sweaters, the standard horror scenes and actors we expect of the genre.

The research was mainly a collection of conversations with people who had known Wood and acted in his low-budget, swiftly filmed, films which had little continuity. The list of films includes 'Plan 9 From Outer Space'. By the end however the stars had continued to work while Wood was sin
C. Hall
Apr 20, 2009 C. Hall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating exploration of the life, career, and bizarre social circle of one of the more infamously-untalented filmmakers in the history of film, Nightmare of Ecstasy is also the chronicle of a man who failed at virtually everything he ever did, yet found a posthumous niche as a pop culture icon. The narrative here is disseminated in pieces, fragmentary bits of first-person recollections from Wood's friends and co-workers. The book is unflinching, and makes no effort to whitewash Wood's flaws ...more
May 28, 2007 NumberLord rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ed Wood fans
Shelves: humor
If you're a fan of movies that are so bad, they're good, then you've probably heard of Ed Wood.
I didn't care much for the way this book was written: much of it is a collection of quotes/reminisences thrown together. I like the fact that the book gives a detailed filmography of Wood's "oeuvre" but I would have preferred more prose throughout.
Oct 25, 2007 Andy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is fun if you like Ed Wood, but it's just clips from interviews with no overarching narrative. And towards the end I noticed tons of typos. Actually, it's a pretty crappy book, but Ed Wood is pretty crappy too, so it fits.
ein Leichter
Apr 18, 2007 ein Leichter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Interested in Ed Wood
If you saw the movie you only got half of the story.
Jan 26, 2017 Ellie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
A very interesting oral history of the life and career of director Ed Wood, which is pretty much as bonkers as you would imagine. Funny, silly and very sad in places. Very like the man himself, it transpires.

I enjoyed the account very much. However, the proofing was -terrible- and the punctuation all over the place. Again, possibly faithful to the subject.
Nov 03, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Psychotronics fans, film buffs, oral historians
Recommended to Michael by: Damon Houx
I was in the camp of “Ed Wood was a great artist” long before the Tim Burton biopic came out, but I didn’t get around to reading this, the book on which that movie is based, until several years later. It is the ultimate fan-project, filled with the adoration Grey felt for his unlikely hero, and demonstrating years of obsessive hounding of anyone who had ever known the man. It is filled with fascinating anecdotes and photographs, and entertainingly written. I can’t imagine anyone reading it and n ...more
Michael Mallory
When "Nightmare of Ecstasy" first came out more than twenty years ago, many readers objected to its rather revolutionary approach of assembling a long list of memories and stories from those who knew Ed Wood, Jr., creator of such deathless anti-classics as "Plan 9 From Outer Space," rather than writing his story in a cohesive narrative. Today, though, this format has become a fairly common device for a film-related book, particularly a marketing-tool film-related book. But "Nightmare of Ecstasy" ...more
Sir Michael Röhm
Jun 11, 2012 Sir Michael Röhm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
Ed Wood is commonly known among cinema buffs as the director of the "worst films in history."

This designation makes me wonder if those buffs have ever seen Armageddon, ID4, and similar fare.

Grey's book paints a different picture of Wood - not as the maker of "bad films," but as a passionate and imaginative man who had vision, but never had the funds to truly realise that vision. His most infamous "bad movie," Plan 9 From Outer Space, was only realised by Wood and the cast converting to a Souther
Melissa Becker
Dec 23, 2013 Melissa Becker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ed Wood was a terrible filmmaker. But unlike so many terrible filmmakers (Michael Bay, McG, etc.) Wood had passion for his crap. He wasn't just in it for the paycheck, he really loved what he did. That love comes through in every frame of his movies, which is why they hold up better than his sets (which sometimes are falling apart during scenes).

This is a book about Ed, the worst director of all-time (or at least until Tommy Wiseau). It's also about his friends- a collection of weirdos that incl
Russell Grant
Oct 22, 2014 Russell Grant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best bio's I've read. It's an oral history, so all the narrative is taken from first person recollections. The first half or so is giddy in it's detailing of Wood's start from war hero to z-movie maker. It's the period covered by Tim Burton in his film, and as great as that movie is (arguably the greatest film about the movies ever made) it's nowhere near as bizarre and wonky as real life. The second, post "Plan 9 From Outer Space" period, is as heartbreaking and sad a narrati ...more
Sep 29, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished this book. The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp film only shows about 10% of Ed Wood's life. This book is really interesting in that it is an oral history of Ed Wood's Life, films and career by his friends family and actors. Some of the info may be sentimentalized in that the interviewees are recalling incidents from the 50's and 60's. Honestly , it's like a John Waters movie. You read in amazement about " The World's Worst Film Director". And nobody in this book denies that. The cheapness o ...more
Dec 06, 2013 Ethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating look at a cultural icon. It's funny and tragic at the same time. The format is a bit odd -- it's basically a collection of quotes from folks who knew Ed Wood, either professionally or personally. The author arranged the quotes loosely by subject and timeline. Unfortunately there is very little narrative -- just a bunch of quotes -- and I wished for at least a little bit of connective tissue between the anecdotes.

I've seen Plan 9 from Outer Space and the movie Ed Wood. Now,
Noran Miss Pumkin
Jun 20, 2008 Noran Miss Pumkin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ed wood fans
Recommended to Noran by: myself/JF
Shelves: biography
This is a heady read, of a troubled life. i do recommend you see one of his films first before reading this book. NOT the depp film, though i adore it and saw it 5 times when it came out. at the same time, in san fran--they showed Wood's other fims--so a friend took me to several i had not seen before. both together then prepare you for this book. drink destoried this man, who only had a dream to make movies and live a good life. this shows how you can go for the dream and end up in the sewer, w ...more
Rob Foster
May 07, 2014 Rob Foster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Basically an oral history of not just one of Hollywood's most noted eccentrics, but almost of Hollywood's whole wide subculture landscape from the lurid to the laughable. Told with a degree of reverence for its wild subject, this is one of those rare works of which one may simply pick up and begin reading from any page, and be instantly captivated, transported to a strange, compelling alternate universe of madly driven kook-artists and their cadres of starry-eyed, hopeless hangers-on. A must-abs ...more
Jean-Pierre Vidrine
This is a fascinating read about a most fascinating (and sad) figure in movie history. The interview format makes for nice break from typical biographies, though it can be a little hard to keep track of who's who and how they're connected with the Ed Wood. Near the end, as the subject gets closer to Wood's end, things get really depressing. The bibliography and filmography at the end are, on their own, interesting reading. There is a lot of eye popping and bemused head shaking to be had while re ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hilarious and sad. Moving. Chilling. Blah, blah, blah, I wish more biographies were like this one. Read it.

-Actually it's not really much of a biography but rather a collection of people's memories of the demented Ed Wood.

It's amazing how well the individual mini-tales combine to paint a portrait of perhaps the most deluded and most creative man ever in Hollywood.

Many of the stories conflict with each other and you hardly ever get any hard facts about Ed Wood, but it gives sad and beaut
Nov 05, 2012 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really is the DNA of Burton’s Ed Wood film. It shares the same affectionate yet honest portrayal of the many-have-said world’s worst filmmaker. Written using first-hand accounts, the reader gets sometimes conflicted accounts of Ed Wood, though the author warns his readers from the get-go to expect this. Unlike Tim Burton’s film, the book follows Ed Wood to his sad, alcoholic, poverty-row end.
Feb 27, 2008 Jeb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of eccentric schlock filmmaker, Edward D. Wood. A fascinating read on one of the stranger characters that inhabited the fringes of the American film industry. The anecdotes are funny, affectionate, and ultimately sad as we witness his rise (if you can call it that) and fall as told by those that knew and worked with him.

Essential reading for lovers of schlock/cult films or those with a fondness for those that wander the outskirts of society.
Derek Tatum
I just finished this oral history of the life and career of Edward D. Wood, Jr. It was the first book I have ever read in this format, and to be honest the number of different voices made it a little tough going. Essential for fans of Wood or those interested in the underbelly of 1050's-'70's Hollywood. Tragic ending, too — he seemed like a pretty nice, exuberant guy early in life, but he died a paranoid, alcoholic pornographer.
An interesting recollection of the life and movies of Ed Wood, told through first hand accounts from people who knew and worked with him, but if you're expecting the sort of happy-ish ending from the Tim Burton movie, well, prepare yourself to be kind of depressed by the end.
Mike Hunchback
Jul 13, 2015 Mike Hunchback rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As major a work as there could ever be ... Devastating, hilarious, brazen and more researched than a freaking encyclopedia.

There's a significant "before and after" in biographies, and it's because of this book.
Joel Manuel
Oct 10, 2011 Joel Manuel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious & heartbreaking oral history (fittingly) of one of filmdom's worst, yet most dedicated, filmmakers. Be sure to read the deliciously perverse appendixes, which cover Wood's known books, movies, and scripts.
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