“These Aren’t Kids. They’re Morons!”
Alamo Drafthouse’s The American Genre Film Archive (AGFA), the world’s largest non-profit film archive, have teamed with Something Weird Video to bring us a lost film from the so-called world’s worst director. You either know writer/producer/actor/director Ed Wood from the Tim Burton film or from his magnum opus Plan 9 From Outer Space. You may have even seen his films skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Ed D. Wood, Jr. was no under-appreciated auteur—he was a legitimately bad filmmaker—but he had passion. He gave a shit about his craft and he threw himself into it. This gives his work a genuine charm and besides, if his movies were actually the worst films ever made, we wouldn’t be talking about them.
Wood doesn’t have an extensive filmography and he wound up making some nudie films under other names (Necromania, Nympho Cycler, The Sinister Urge), along with a number of underground novels (The Killer In Drag, Let Me Die In Drag, Devil Girls, Death Of A Transvestite), but he left behind an undeniable legacy that continued through more accomplished directors like John Waters and Lloyd Kaufman.
I’d never even heard of The Violent Years, nor can I tell you why it gets a 4k restoration ahead of any number of seemingly more deserving films, but I can tell you this: it’s now my favorite Ed Wood film. It plays like a PSA, with a judge delivering an exhaustive (not to mention insanely wrong) moral that does nothing but distract from another wise cool movie about four kick-ass girls that knock over gas stations and “criminally attack” men. It’s a film about youth gone wild because their parents give them the world without moral guidance, which leads them down a path of gun play, vandalizing schools, and killing cops.
I’m not joking when I say The Violent Years is the best Ed Wood film (granted, this film was directed by William Morgan from Wood’s script) I’ve ever seen. There’s some actual production value here. Good sets, a cool if repetitive rock and roll score, and a feature commentary from the man, the myth, the legend Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case, Frankenhooker, Brain Damage). The Blu also comes with a bonus film, Anatomy Of A Psycho (1961) in a 2k restoration.