Ed Wood’s Long-Lost TV Pilot “Final Curtain” (1957)

Here it is in all its glorious awfulness:

The pilot for a proposed TV horror anthology to be called Portraits of Terror, “Final Curtain” features Wood regular Duke Moore as an actor lurking around the old Santa Monica Dome Theater after hours while Plan 9′s Dudley Manlove narrates his night of…. TERROR!!!!

Oh Dear God, is it ever tedious. The entirety of the thing is the voice over narration, written as an attempt at Edgar Allen Poe style inner psycho breakdown. And in the end, basically nothing really happens.

I devoted a fair chunk of my undergraduate thesis to the work of Ed Wood, and while some of the wonderful auteur touches are here, it’s very stripped down and lacking a lot of the stuff that elevates Ed Wood’s material to that special level of camp. Manlove’s voice-over has moments of over-the-top emotion that don’t match the stiff-as-board acting that goes with it, and Wood tips his hand a little too much in one segment where Moore’s actor character caresses the wardrobe of an actress playing a stage dummy and the narration goes on and on about how the feel of her clothes against his skin excite him sexually. Ah, but it’s no angora sweater, is it?

BUT WAIT! It’s a cut to a shot of a water cooler!




This needed a hearty dose of Criswell, Tor Johnson, and that guy in the devil suit from the Glen or Glenda? dream sequence. THEN the networks would have bitten, I’m sure.

Wood being Wood, much of the footage of this thing was recycled into parts of Night Of The Ghouls. What he really should have done was try pitching this one to the networks instead:

Trust me, those really are the highlights. I never thought that strippers in a graveyard would bore me before Ed Wood got a hold of the idea. But then, that’s the price I pay for academic thoroughness!

4 thoughts on “Ed Wood’s Long-Lost TV Pilot “Final Curtain” (1957)

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    1. Nice review! Ed Wood (along with Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) are my favorite Tim Burton films. Martin Landau is wonderful, and besides the uncannily accurate reproductions of Wood’s films, the film was very smart to end the story when they did… Wood’s later years, like when he made “Orgy Of The Dead” would have been too sad to maintain the upbeat comedy tone of Burton’s bio. I always thought the real tragedy of Wood was that he died right before his material became loved for its badness… I think he would have enjoyed it since even if people were making fun of his material, he’d’ve finally had the audience appreciation and celebrity he always pursued.

      1. No one wanted it more than Ed.
        Best bio-pic ever. My dream in life is to write a bio pic on The Marx Brothers and if I ever did, I would use Ed Wood as a kind of template.

      2. There’s a lot more material for the Marx Brothers than there is for Ed Wood, to be sure. There’s more of ’em as well as a lot of interesting offscreen persona/behind 1930s Hollywood material. If you like the idea of Groucho as James Bond, click on the Buy My Books tab above & check out my novel!

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