Bad Movie Review (Extra Life 2018) – Glen or Glenda
The Bad Movie Review series of posts are a set of posts written as the result of meeting a $1,200 stretch goal for Extra Life, an annual 24-hour video gaming charity marathon event that benefits children’s hospitals.
Ultimately, the theme of what happens in Glen or Glenda surrounds the message behind the movie – the idea of acceptance of cross-dressing, and that being a transvestite should be more acceptable in culture and that those choosing to engage in sex change operations shouldn’t be shunned. Considering Ed Wood, the man behind the movie, was apparently a cross-dresser themselves, this probably comes as no surprise. The problem is that the presentation of everything, aside from the motivation in the main plot, is so disjointed and presented poorly that people tend to focus more on what’s wrong with the film rather than what it was trying to say or ask of the audience.
In one set of nightmare sequences we have BDSM, masturbation, rape, the devil, a marriage and a warning about dragons that never really goes anywhere. The titular plot which occupies most of the action is itself motivated by an investigation behind a transvestite’s suicide that ultimately goes nowhere. Another story about a WWII veteran who was born male but was raised and identifies as a female, and who eventually successfully receives a sex change operation seems tacked on to the end of the movie as another point of argument. And the movie itself just doesn’t seem to present itself coherently in any meaningful way in general. Even Bela Lugosi can’t seem to save how hacked-together things feel, unfortunately.
At the very least, most of the tales end happily – something playing into the theme of acceptance that Wood was trying to build into the film and which I will definitely respect him for attempting, especially given the culture at the time. In looking at how the film was viewed on the internet, moving beyond some of the folks calling it one of the worst movies of all time, there have been some actual serious analyses done on the movie and how the various, nonsensical sequences seem to actually be more meaningful than first thought of. I just couldn’t really follow the imagery very well, but I got the message that it was trying to send, which may have been the most important thing for the movie to get across – even over a coherent plot and story.