Ed Wood has always been a favorite of mine and he has been for many people but what is the fascination? It’s not necessarily the bad camera work, the awful sound, stock footage and disjointed performances (as great as those are) but his passion and belief in his ideas that endear us to him. He has always existed on the bottom rung of cinematic artistry so it would stand to reason that he would descend into the grimy sordid world of skin flicks, blueys, fuzzy films… pornography.
He made several forays into this field but the most infamous was…
‘NECROMANIA’: A TALE OF WEIRD LOVE!
USA, 1971, Edward D. Wood Jr.
Of course we don’t see Heles for most of the movie, originally meant to be played Mira ‘Vampira’ Nurumi but she was very sick at the time and said she had already killed her career enough without having to destroy it further. So there is some plot and then… well… some “sex”. Don’t get me wrong, it is hardcore but possibly some of the least arousing sex scenes in film history. We see many full on close ups of primo vintage bush almost as if these ladies had Bob Ross in a headlock, which in itself is fine, but there is an incessant amount of pube licking, which is somewhat unsettling. What is confusing about these sex scenes is that there is jaunty Western cowboy music blaring, clearly a find from the vaults of some defunct movie studio.
The movie was shot over two days with a budget of 7000 dollars. Some of you might scoff at that, but at that time two days was a lot for a skin flick. Ed Wood apparently could not be found for weeks prior to the filming after going on one his drinking benders and surprised everybody by arriving on set for the first day of filming in an embroidered western outfit. Apparently he then proceeded to direct the rest of the film in a pink baby doll outfit and push up bra.While watching the movie, for the first time during the “erotic” scenes I was thinking, “Where’s the plot?!” The plot comes back and I expel a sigh of relief. The main guy (uncredited, but played by Ric Lutze) has the most emasculating “wife”, who is constantly harping on at him for not being able to get it up, which is why they are there to see Madam Heles. The reason wife was in quotations is because they are pretending to be married but are actually… dum dum duuum… out of wedlock cue screams of terror! Which I guess was a big deal in the 70s, maybe, but who cares. So there are some other people living in the house/hotel. What they do isn’t clear but they like to screw. I think they are prisoners or slaves or members of a cult? Maybe all of the above.
The whole film was shot at Hal Guthu’s studio. Guthu was quite prolific as a talent agent for pornographic films and as a cinematographer on this film and others. What is worth noting is that it was the hottest day of the year and while they were filming Rene Bond actually passed out in the 43°C heat and had to be revived. The first camera they used kept breaking and jamming also so they had to move onto a different one. But they persevered, this film had to get made!So more banging to inappropriate cowboy music ensues. I felt like the cast of Shane were doing a Western porno called Pick Up The Cock: You All Saw Him, He Had a Cock. I was there with my dick in my hand (figuratively) begging for a moment when the Necromania part would become apparent, EXPOSITION PLEASE! PULL THE STRINGS, PULL ZE STRINGS!!! When I am finally sated, we see one of the cute assistants in a black robe and nothing else, which is nice. So let’s go through the satanic checklist: red candles, check, nude big-boobed woman with dark hair, check, red coffin, check, chanting, check, skull, check, bringing skull up to give butterfly kisses to boobs, ch- what?! What kind of satanic ritual is this? All this hype and then it just ends there. The music is again from some monster movie, which is at a level of about 9.5, when the monster is going on a rampage, and we are at about a 2.5 on the shit-going-down-o-meter.
So what do we expect from a bad black magic movie about satanic cultists? We have this couple who haven’t consummated their marriage yet and are naive to the workings of said cult. C’mon you know where we’re going… ritualistic sacrifice! YAY!!!!! Nope. We don’t even get someone laid out in a pentagram or blood of any kind. There is a stuffed dog though, and a room where some people went sex crazy and are orgying all day long after flying too close to the nympho sun. When the coffin finally opens and Madam Heles emerges, the dude jumps in and screws her. The End.What did I think of it? I found a few laughs, the acting is actually kind of funny from all the fringe characters, especially one girl who keeps pronouncing insatiable as “in-sash-able”. The lead girl, 70s porn star Rene Bond (who went on to do some classic b-movies like 1973’s Invasion of the Bee Girls), is cute enough and is clearly having fun making the movie despite the heat. I did enjoy seeing that Ed Woodian mind at work, his hopes and dreams pumped into 8mm film. It’s worth watching for any true fan of his. Although Ed did not give me any amount of Wood bu-dum-tshhh.
This movie was actually lost for many years as all copies were thought to be destroyed. However, after 15 years of searching Rudolph Grey and some others found a copy in a L.A. warehouse. Rudolph Grey is an Ed Woodologist and writer who conducted many interviews with all of the people associated with Wood, which was put into a book called Nightmare of Ecstasy, the direct source material for the Tim Burton movie. The book is legitimately one of the best film bios I have ever read and is a brilliant insight into this ultimately driven and self destructive man. It consists only of those interviews and excerpts of Woods writing and letters.
Necromania was available aaaaages ago from Fleshbot Films, unfortunately that disc is long out of print. If you come across it for an affordable price, it is well worth picking up. The sad reality of classic hardcore flicks is that companies that release them legitimately are few and far between, so I doubt Necromania will be seeing the light of day again any time soon. I hope I’m proved wrong. – Dave