Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Blood Splatters Quickly: The Collected Stories
$18/£11 (Paperback); $10/£6 (E-book)
ISBN: 978-1-935928-61-9 (Paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-935928-62-6 (E-book)
At the time that the majority of the stories found in the wonderfully titled Blood Splatters Quickly: The Collected Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. were being written, the author—better known as Ed Wood—was deep in the throws of alcoholism, out of work as a film director, married to a woman (despite being a lifelong transvestite), and bouncing from apartment to apartment in the seedier sections of Hollywood. As described by Bob Blackburn, who wrote the incredibly insightful introduction to this book, Wood was cranking out story after story for Bernie Bloom, head of Pendulum Publishing. The stories contained in Blood Splatters Quickly graced the pages of such prestigiously named magazines as Horror Sex Tales, Boyplay, Weird Sex Tales, Hellcats, Lezo, and Man to Man.
The yarns spun in this collection include tales of the devil in human form, converting the souls of the already damned (“Hellfire”), cheating husbands, murderous wives, and garbage disposals (“Scream Your Bloody Head Off”), a maniac doctor terrorizing a town by dismembering its dead and undead young women (“The Gory Details”), warlocks just being warlocks (“I, Warlock”), and in the title story, a twin brother seeking revenge on the man who killed his twin sister: himself.
Contained within these oftentimes silly, hastily written tales are earnest and forthright attempts at creating serious, hard-hitting, character-driven stories that seemed incredibly out of place in magazines of this nature. In “No Atheists in the Grave,” Reverend Paul Carstairs, a veteran of several wars, has a crisis of faith in the jungles of Vietnam. “The Wave Off” concerns itself with Larry Easton, a top-notch fighter pilot, who ponders his life and failed marriage during a firefight. The most fully formed and coherent of these attempts is “Dracula Revisited.” In the story, an unnamed narrator journeys by carriage to the home of Count Dracula. With a mighty tip of the cap to the style of Edgar Allen Poe, this is perhaps the best-written selection of the 32 stories, creating a chilling mood and eerie atmosphere that is incredibly effective.
The best story in the collection is the hysterical “To Kill a Saturday Night.” In it, the sly, dark humor that appeared in flashes during Wood’s days as a filmmaker are in top form (if ever there was such a thing). The story revolves around Pete and Art, two ne’er-do-well drunks who discuss the pros and cons of spending a Saturday night killing whores. I won’t say what happens, but it’s well worth the read.
The organization of the stories is overall a bit uneven, as the majority of the stronger selections appear in the first half of the collection, with the exception of “Pray for Rain,” “Breast of the Chicken,” and “Scene of the Crime,” which appear later.
While reading these stories, with the biographical context given by Mr. Blackburn, it’s very difficult to shake the feeling that elements in many of the stories must have been painfully autobiographical. Alcoholism and a strong sense of guilt for deviant behavior seem to inhabit the vast majority of the characters Wood had created. The kinks, perversions, and taboo depictions the characters possess and inhabit were also possessed and inhabited by their author, which brings a deeper level of authenticity to many of the first-person narratives found in the book.
That being said, this is a collection of short stories by the man (and sometimes woman) who brought us some of the worst movies ever committed to celluloid. Simply stated, if you’re looking for a deeper meaning and intellectual insight as to who Ed Wood was, you’ve completely missed the boat. He was writing these little ditties for booze money, plain and simple. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as they are highly entertaining and filled with the type of delirious tomfoolery you’ve come to expect from Ed Wood’s work.
This is the book you put on the back of the toilet in the guest bathroom, and I mean that with all due respect. The lengths of the stories are perfectly timed to finish while you finish, and way more fun then looking at Facebook on your phone. This is not the kind of cover to cover, can’t put down sort of book. These stories are pure pulp—and it shouldn’t be any other way—and they are best left sampled one at a time.
Sadly, much like his films, only diehard fans of all things Ed Wood, or devotees of the Pulp genre, will take notice of these stories. However, to dismiss this collection altogether seems a worse crime then cutting up your loved one into small pieces and putting them down the garbage disposal. I don’t believe Ed Wood was ever ahead of his time, but simply a man out of time. Blood Splatters Quickly perfectly illustrates the fact that the world may never be ready for Ed Wood, though I hope I’m dead wrong.
Behind the camera, Woodend most recently co-wrote, co-produced, co-directed, and co-starred in the upcoming feature film We’ll Know When We Get There, which is currently in post production. In front of the camera, Woodend has appeared in the role of the GEICO caveman in well over 20 national commercials. Woodend has also written interviews and articles for the entertainment section of BRINK Magazine. Tags: adjunct professor; David Lynch MA in film; doctoral candidate, European Graduate School.
Edward D. Wood, Jr.