Tim Burton has directed films based on classic works of fantasy, such as Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820) and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), as well as breathing new life into Batman. Another intriguing intertextual effort is a pair of films he made in the mid-1990s, Ed Wood (1994) and Mars Attacks! (1996), which show a deep appreciation for 1950s trash cinema. Mars Attacks! is a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of the standard drive-in fare of flying saucers and alien invasion, while Ed Wood, though quite funny, offers a serious take on the career of the eponymous auteur, scenes from whose famously awful movies are restaged word for word. Both films use sophisticated techniques to recreate a bygone trash aesthetic, reincarnating ephemeral texts and iconography in big-budget, Oscar-winning productions. As Philip Hayward has commented with regard to Mars Attacks!, the result is to “reinvigorate … the B-movie by producing [an] homage that sparkles with allusion and special effects of such a different order of accomplishment to their inspiration that they inhabit a different plane of affectivity” (183).
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- Tim Burton’s Trash Cinema Roots: Ed Wood and Mars Attacks!
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