Workshop celebrates re-creation of bad films

Friday, October 22, 2010

GREENCASTLE -- Lance Duerfahrd takes bad films seriously.

He teaches a course on them at Purdue University, and Saturday he'll be running a workshop on bad movies at the Putnam County Public Library (PCPL).

The workshop will be at PCPL from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

Duerfahrd, an assistant professor at Purdue, said he thinks people develop a special kind of rapport for bad films.

"I think, unlike any other art form, people enjoy bad movies," Duerfahrd said. "People don't seek out bad literature, they don't go to bad opera, they don't listen to bad music. It's always the other people who are listening to bad music. I think people develop strange allegiances to movies in spite of their quality and that has always interested me."

Duerfahrd said he is focusing on the work of celebrated horrible filmmaker Ed Wood.

"Within his limited means, [Wood] had a huge vision," Duerfahrd said. "His vision maybe was greater than his means."

Wood was the director of "Plan 9 from Outer Space," which was dubbed the worst film ever made by an episode of "Seinfeld."

"I think it's interesting that 'Plan 9' is about aliens who are raising the dead in order to convince Earth people of their existence," Duerfahrd said. "I think it's interesting that Ed Wood made a movie that isn't exactly credible but is about aliens that are looking for credibility."

Duerfahrd said despite of the quality of Ed Wood's films, they still affect viewers.

"[Wood] didn't make bad films in the sense that they're bad and that's that," he said. "They're unusually shoddy-looking movies, but they leave a distinct impression on the viewer. Tim Burton made a biopic about Ed Wood, and he kind of loved the kookiness of Ed Wood's work."

Duerfahrd said he would start with a short lecture and Plan 9 clip before moving on to the bulk of the workshop -- re-shooting some parts of Plan 9.

"We're going to do it all from scratch." Duerfahrd said. "My idea eventually is to invite a few libraries and I'm going to re-make the entire film using a revolving cast.

"You can never do injustice to a film that is poorly done by remaking it," he said.

Duerfahrd justifies the revolving cast by comparing it to the original Plan 9.

"Bela Lugosi died and he got replaced by Ed Wood's chiropractor," he said. "In a way, Ed Wood was doing this already. He was finding a chiropractor to replace his star and the chiropractor looked nothing like Lugosi. It would have been very easy for him to find a double and instead he finds the guy who helps get kinks out of his back. That's awesome."

Duerfahrd said critiquing Plan 9 as a bad movie may help people understand that anyone can make a film.

"My general point is that a film that shows its craftwork a little more than the finely made studio products of Hollywood actually may encourage us to think that movie making is possible, " he said. "That movie making is feasible," he said. "Even that it's necessary."

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