You'd think the label "worst director of all time" would be, well, hard to live up to. It's a form of overly high expectations, after all, what if people come to your films expecting terrible and getting merely mediocre?
Don't worry though, "Glen or Glenda" is anything but merely mediocre. The reason it is this terrible, and fascinating, is because it's so incredibly earnest, so filled with ideas and good intentions, so convinced of its own importance. It's a movie that has no lesser goal than to spread understanding and acceptance of transvestism (a term which is defined, in almost the same terms, twice, as if to pound it in our head, or maybe Wood had simply forgotten he'd already done it).
But what a strange movie this is. It's hard even to talk of "scenes". Glen himself gets some lines with his Barbara, but as Glenda he is mostly just followed through the street by a voice-over. There are multiple framing devices: a doctor who tells the story of Glen "and all the other Glens" to a concerned policeman, but also strange bits with Bela Lugosi as some puppeteer going nefariously on and on about "pulling the string" and "puppy dog tails and fat big snails". There's even a scene of him in a lab, but what he's mixing we don't know. It produces a lot of smoke though.
There are weird dream sequences too, and then, there's his love of stock footage. When we see Bela, for example, it's framed by shots of lightning. The story of Alan - also told by the doctor- is mostly narrated over war footage. A shot of a highway, cars streaming through, comes back over and over again with only a mere excuse for it the first time.
It's a totally bizarre film, and while it can be applauded for at least trying to make transvestism normal, it spoils that by being thoroughly homophobic. It confirms that Wood might, indeed, be the worst director of all time, but also a director with so much ambition and so many ideas that it's amazing none of them turn out to be good.
So do yourself a favor. Don't go see the merely mediocre "I know who killed me" or anything like that this weekend. Treat yourself to something truly terrible instead.