Blood Spatters Quickly by Edward D. Wood
-Reviewed by Sarah Gonnet–
The name Edward D Wood conjures up images of Johnny Depp in a pink angora sweater surrounded by greyscale; or perhaps the famous scene on YouTube where one of Wood’s actors attempts to move the appendages of a plastic octopus at the same time as pretending to be attacked by it. Over the years Wood has frequently been commended for being the worst director who has ever lived. What isn’t so well known about him is that as well as writing, directing and starring in films; Wood was also a prolific writer of short stories. Blood Spatters Quickly is the collection of these stories. They are so bad that I think it might be my favourite book of the year.
The opening story ‘Scream Your Bloody Head Off’ is typical of the stories throughout the collection. It tells the story of misguided revenge but is full of constant twists, often with cruxes of information over one-line jokes.
Meanwhile ‘Hellfire’ is probably the best story in terms of being well-written. It is a surprise to come across it amongst the plot rather than literary focus of the rest of the stories. It takes a look at the Devil and his demons with a limited level of crass jokes in comparison to the other stories.
Transvestites and an obsession with the textures of women’s clothing shimmer through the stories as fluently as similar themes in Wood’s films. At a time when transvestitism was harshly and completely disapproved of this is all quite daring. Wood apparently also felt his most creative whilst dressed as a woman, so it is likely he was cross-dressing himself whilst penning the stories. This adds another quirky layer to their overall effect.
Wearing women’s clothing seems to have absolutely worked for Wood. In terms of creative vision his work can’t be faulted. If anything Wood simply had too much of an imagination for his ideas to be fulfilled by practical technique in filming or writing. Wood’s tendency to jump between ideas is quite manic, and there are several theories that have him down as suffering from bipolar disorder. However, unfortunately these ideas came at such a speed that Wood didn’t ever have the patience to follow them through in any kind of detail; or to pause and consider the techniques of artistic craft. As a result his prolific work seems constantly rushed and haphazard. Yet a further result is something quite undefinably hilarious and interesting that runs through everything Wood produced before alcoholism led him to an early grave.
The titles of the stories in the collection are something to behold. My favourite has to be ‘Missionary (position) Impossible’. Sexual puns were certainly another of Wood’s strengths, and he uses them heavily.
In the book, alongside Wood’s writings, are gorgeous Illustrations that stylistically seem to be a cross between traditional woodcuts and 1970s movie posters. The images are as confusing and erotic as the stories; they also ensure that the book seems bizarrely modern and consolidates the ability of Wood’s stories to survive through several generations.
If you want to laugh yet also feel oddly turned-on ‘Blood Splatters Quickly’ is the book for you. The book is also something every English Literature and Creative Writing student should read to promote imagination and freedom of expression over the tedium of structure.