Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ed Wood Wednesdays, Week 15: "Criswell Predicts!" plus "Dad Made Dirty Movies" (2012)

In addition to his work in Ed Wood's films, Criswell had quite a career as a TV personality and author.

"Strange fish swim beneath the sea of the future waves of time!"
-Jeron Criswell Konig (1969)

The saga of Edward D. Wood, Jr. is peopled by a cast of eccentric, colorful, seemingly impossible characters. This week, I am devoting "Ed Wood Wednesdays" to two of them: television psychic and occasional actor Criswell (1907-1982) and director-producer Stephen C. Apostolof (1928-2005). These two men have but a single film in common, the Ed Wood-scripted horror-themed burlesque show called Orgy of the Dead (1965), and their working relationship on this odd, improbable project was less than harmonious. Talking to Wood biographer Rudolph Grey nearly 30 years after the fact, the exasperated Apostolof voiced his discontent with the infamous soothsayer, whose participation was the result of a personal and professional relationship with Ed Wood:
Eddie holds Criswell's cue cards for Orgy of the Dead
We had problems with Criswell. Eddie tried to help because he felt personally responsible. Criswell didn't know his lines, and the son of a gun gets an entourage around him! It's like, "Bravo!" You can see in the picture that he's reading, looking below the camera where poor Eddie's sitting with the cue cards. During the lunch break, we were looking for Cris. And he was sleeping peacefully -- in his goddamned coffin! The greatest satisfaction I received was when we screened Orgy of the Dead, and Criswell started to cry. "You made me look so regal." And I did, the son of a bitch!
Indeed, if one studies the behind-the-scenes photographs taken on the set of Orgy of the Dead, one will find a desperate-looking Ed Wood holding up large-print cue cards for a doddering, dazed-looking Criswell, who seems barely cognizant of his surroundings. Eddie himself, by then firmly in the grasp of alcoholism, tested the director's patience by not showing up for work and by being intoxicated on the set. Stephen Apostolof was a methodical and efficient director who valued pre-planning and had no room in his filming schedule for nonsense. During the course of Orgy's tumultuous production, Steve hired, fired, and rehired Eddie in a pattern that was to repeat itself many times over the course of the next decade.

Criswell, on the other hand, never appeared in another motion picture for Apostolof, Wood, or anyone else after 1965. But this film was only one chapter in the eventful biography of the notorious prognosticator. We will examine the life and career of Mr. Apostolof in good time, dear reader. But first, let us journey back to the year 1907. Teddy Roosevelt is in the White House. New York City sees its first taxicab. And in Princeton, IN (pop. 5,661), a red-haired child named Jeron Criswell Konig is born.

A dapper young Criswell with his wife of 34 years, actress and burlesque dancer Halo Meadows.

"I wasn't always Criswell Predicts," he would write some 62 years hence in the preface to his first published book of predictions, Criswell Predicts from Now to the Year 2000! (Droke House, 1968; republished the next year by Grosset & Dunlap as Criswell Predicts Your Future from Now to the Year 2000!). "Once I was Baby Criswell! And even then I was interested in the future!" It doesn't take the author long before he starts contradicting himself. In one paragraph, he says that his family "thought he would be a cardinal or a governor" due to his tendency to bask in the spotlight. In the next, he admits that he didn't learn to talk until he was four, causing these very same relatives to consider him a "retarded" child who would never speak. So which was it, Cris? Charismatic governor or imbecilic mute?

In the book's quickly-produced, typo-prone sequel, Criswell Predicts Your Next Ten Years (Droke House, 1969), the pseudo-psychic gives us a little more insight into his background with some anecdotes about his early years in Princeton, IN. Apparently, he paid keen attention to the goings-on in his hometown and loved to make gossipy, rather sordid predictions about what its residents would do in the near-future. At the age of 12, he made a detailed study of Princeton's entire citizenry, from the mayor on down, and wrote predictions about all their fates in a scandalous homemade report he called "Short History of the Future." His father, Criswell tells us, took this particular manuscript and burned it. But even then, Cris knew that "The Future" was his future, so to speak. Criswell's family was in the mortuary business, and it was here that the future star began to take comfort from sleeping in coffins, a habit that would last the rest of his life.

Curiously, in Your Next Ten Years, Cris predicts that people will soon start having sex in coffins, and one of the psychic's own caskets was used for just this purpose in Ed Wood's Necromania (1971), a hardcore porn film released just a few years after the book's publication.

Plan 9 begins with an episode of Criswell's TV show.
But it would take this man many decades to become a celebrity. A late bloomer as ever, Criswell would not attain real fame until he was about 46 years old. In 1930, a little over ten years after his ill-fated "Short History of the Future," Criswell married a speakeasy dancer and burlesque star who called herself Halo Meadows (real name: Myrtle Louise Stonesifer) and whose eccentricity reportedly outstripped even his own. Their 34-year marriage ended for unknown reasons in 1974, having resulted in two co-authored books (How Your Play Can Crash Broadway and How to Crash Tin Pan Alley) but no flesh-and-blood children. In his early days, Criswell pursued careers as a radio announcer and news broadcaster, which may not have made him famous but which at least gave him a chance to develop his trademark stentorian voice. Like most flakes with showbiz aspirations, Cris ultimately migrated to Hollywood.

In 1953, Criswell bought some live airtime on a Los Angeles television station called KLAC in order to hawk "Criswell Family Vitamins." The vitamins weren't selling well, however, so he used the opportunity to deliver some on-air predictions instead. This caught the public's attention and led to his own local series, Criswell Predicts, which made him a regional star of sorts in the 1950s. During that time, he befriended another oddball local TV star, Korla Pandit, and became the personal psychic of Ms. Mae West, who immortalized him in song. Criswell later repaid the favor in Your Next Ten Years by naming Mae West the one female star of the 20th century whose fame would last. (His pick for top male star? Red Skelton.)

Several notable showbiz figures worked on Criswell's program. His announcer, Bob Shields, went on to play the judge in the first incarnation of TV's long-running Divorce Court. And then, my friends, there are the show's directors, a roster which includes such "B"-movie legends as Lee Sholen (Catalina Caper, The Doomsday Machine), William "One-Shot" Beaudine (Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter, Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla), and a certain young up-and-comer named Edward D. Wood, Jr. Eddie and Cris likely met while filming this show. And it's no coincidence that Eddie's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) begins with what is essentially an episode of Criswell's TV show, complete with its own onscreen title! Since Plan 9 is almost inevitably the first of Eddie's films that most people see, it's fair to say that Criswell is the gatekeeper to the strange, surreal kingdom of Edward D. Wood, Jr. Or at the very least, he's the maitre d', complete with a fancy tuxedo.

Criswell's 1970 LP.
Criswell's fame utterly eclipsed Eddie's in the 1960s. That's when the outlandish prognosticator -- whose public persona was part Nostradamus, part Liberace -- started making appearances on national talk shows, including those hosted by Jack Paar, Mike Douglas, and Merv Griffin. Most famous of all, though, were his guest shots on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where he was clearly being used as a comedic stooge. Carson even began imitating Criswell with a character he called Carswell. No matter. Criswell seemed to be aware he was the butt of jokes, but he was willing to take whatever fame and attention he could get. And he was quite the careerist, too! Because of The Tonight Show, Criswell's fame spread beyond Los Angeles to the rest of the country. The flagrantly-false prophet managed, for a few years anyway, to turn Criswell Predicts into a multi-media franchise, which included three books for Droke House Publishing, a syndicated newspaper column, personal appearances, and an astonishing LP called The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future (Horoscope Productions, 1970). This album is remarkable because, far from sounding prepared, Criswell seems disoriented and distracted throughout its running time. Even though he's mostly recycling material that appeared in his books, the would-be psychic flubs many lines and loses his train of thought now and again.

The two Criswell books I reviewed for this series.
As for Criswell's books, published by Droke House between 1968 and 1972, I have now read two of them, Your Future from Now to the Year 2000! and Your Next Ten Years, and found them pretty much alike in tone and structure. Those two books and a third, Criswell's Forbidden Predictions, are no longer in print, but used copies are cheap and plentiful. They can be procured at very reasonable rates through Amazon and are highly entertaining and recommended by your blogger. Of course, the usual way of covering Criswell's predictions is to focus on how staggeringly inaccurate and totally outlandish they are. The AV Club's Stephen Thompson did just that in a very amusing article from 1999. One of Cris's most frequently-repeated predictions, of course, was that the world as we know it would come to an end on August 18, 1999. Obviously, this did not come to pass. Nor did most of the predictions in Criswell's books, despite his supposed 87% accuracy rate.

But over the course of watching Ed Wood's movies, I've become rather fond of Criswell. He's like the tipsy, spaced-out, slightly senile uncle I wished I'd had growing up. So while I read his books, I kept rooting for him to "get it right," so to speak. The books follow a very simple pattern, consisting almost entirely of brief pronouncements, each with its own heading in ALL CAPS, generally ranging from a few sentences to several paragraphs in length and almost always starting with the words "I predict...." (One example from his first book: "I predict that all newspapers, magazines, and books will be printed on a spun plastic." I don't know what that means either.)

Occasionally, Criswell slows down to give more detailed, symbolic prophecies, which read like outtakes of the Book of Revelation, only updated to the aesthetic standards of the Laugh-In era. These are more common in his first book, Your Future from Now to the Year 2000!, which almost functions as an anthology of hallucinatory science-fiction stories with an apocalyptic bent. I especially recommend "The Destruction of Denver, Colorado" (pgs. 18-20) in which the great metropolis is destroyed when its buildings and infrastructure turn into a jelly-like substance, engulfing the citizenry. Other offbeat tales here include "The Boiling Lake," "The Lady of Light" (about a woman who dramatically changes the balance of power in the gender war, only to end up a martyr), and "The Great Drought and Flood."

In case you were wondering, though he speaks frequently of his TV appearances and live lectures, Criswell never once mentions his film career in these books, and the name of his good pal Edward D. Wood, Jr. never comes up.

If I were recommending just one Criswell book, though, I'd probably go with Your Next Ten Years from 1969. Not only does it have the introduction in which Cris fills us in on the details of his childhood and his first attempts at predicting the future, it also comes with several eye-catching, surrealistic illustrations by one Lewis N. Schilling, Jr., who seems to have no credits other than this book. To my knowledge, these drawings have never been made available on the internet before, so I am correcting this oversight now with a little help from my trusty scanner. Below, you will find Mr. Schilling's illustrations along with representative excerpts from Criswell's text. Please enjoy:

THE HORNET TERROR
When future historians look back on the momentus [sic] year of 1979, one thing will be certain, and that is the full accounting of the Hornet Family! This vicious family of insects, fed by the gamma rays of hydrogen manufacturing planets, increased their strength to bullet driving power, and laid asunder many parts of the United States! (pg. 123)

REBUILDING OF WOMEN
I predict a new science "Femology" (the rebuilding of women) will soon be most popular, where a woman can go into a free clinic and have her face lifted, a new hair line, reduce many, many pounds, have breasts reshaped and even a vaginal improvement! (pg. 19)

THE AGE OF THE ANIMAL THERAPY -- MINK OIL!
I predict that the greatest discovery will be made from the lowly mink, the animal fat and selected residue. I predict that the center of research, development and marketing of Mink Oil products will be Orlando, Florida, where a new, dynamic company of young men will lead the way to a better future for us all. I predict that the saturated mink oil will be the greatest cosmetic discovery since the Egyptians used olive oil! (pg. 33)

DELIGHTFUL...DELICIOUS...HUMAN FLESH!
In 1975 and 1976, mortuary burial practices will take a strange turn -- that of freezing the dead body for later revival... A strange and loathsome cult will come out of Patoka, Indiana... These crazed men and women, and some children, will raid the Morgues where these bodies are kept at frigid temperature, steal the bodies, and devour them. (pg. 57) 

THE MIND MACHINE
I predict that the treatment of disease will be carried on thru the mind and the mind alone. When you become ill, an electric cap is placed upon your head, and vibratory power is sent to the ailing portion of your brain... I predict huge medical-mind centers will be sold on a franchise basis, as this simple machine can accomplish miracles where medical science has so far failed! (pg 65)

THE AUTOMATIC ATOMIC PLAGUE
I predict that during the next ten years we will be faced with what the Historians will call "the automatic atomic plague" which will sweep certain parts of the world... Skin blotches of purple, shortage of breath and tired aching muscles will be followed by the abdominal muscles giving away and the intestines dropping to the floor, completely unattached! (pg. 113)

True or not, that's some pretty amazing stuff, isn't it? Actually, if you take a very broad interpretation of Criswell's predictions, you can see that the old kook was sort of right about a number of topics. When he looks to the future he sees, among other things:

  • A shift from paper money and coins to credit cards
  • "Instant mail" delivered through electronic means 
  • Constantly-updated news reports, also transmitted electronically
  • Private companies taking over the duties of the postal service
  • Catastrophic storms and other bizarre weather
  • Increased government surveillance
  • Greatly increased reliance on technology (which he refers to as "automation")
  • A generation of "contented discontents" who derive pleasure from complaining
  • Severe restrictions on where, how, and when tobacco can be advertised
  • Scandal, tragedy, and disgrace for the British royal family

All of these have come to pass, to one extent or another. So the old faker wasn't always wrong... just usually wrong. If there is one truly remarkable prediction from Mr. Criswell, it's the following one from Your Next Ten Years. Read it carefully.
I predict that we will soon have another cycle of bad weather! The protective skin surrounding our earth has been punctured, leaving us at the mercy of the elements of the thin, cruel air of the universe! In our eager push for science, we have upset the delicate balance of Mother Nature, and she will turn on us in a wrathful manner! Remember this prediction! (pg. 109)
England's Mother Shipton.
Not bad for a guy who, according to those who knew him intimately, was pulling this stuff right out of his ass and would freely admit to his friends that he couldn't look out the window and tell you what the weather was like. One particular quirk of these books is that Criswell will occasionally use technological breakthroughs as examples of the "fabulous future" or "exciting future" that awaits his readers, even though his chapters are largely filled with dread-inducing prophecies of plagues, famines, floods, droughts, riots, assassinations, outbreaks of cannibalism, acts of sexual perversity, and other horrors. Maybe he was just covering his bases that way. The future is either going to be really great or really terrible, folks!

It's interesting to note the man's incredible, career-long devotion to vitamins. He mentions them throughout both of these books and cites the prophecies of England's famed soothsayer, Mother Agatha Shipton (1488-1566), who seemingly predicted the advent of vitamin pills many years before they were introduced. There's even a vitamin reference in his closing speech from Plan 9 from Outer Space! In addition to quoting Mother Shipton, Cris made quite a study of other predictors from the past -- Nostradamus, obviously, but also Lord Quinley and Edgar Cayce, the so-called "Sleeping Prophet."

For me, it was easy to get lost in the inviting world of Criswell Predicts. As I read these yellowing volumes of pseudo-Biblical nonsense, I could not help but hear the words on the page being read aloud in the voice we all know from Plan 9 from Outer Space, Orgy of the Dead, and Night of the Ghouls. But by the same token, two books of this stuff was definitely enough for me. Like I said, these works are very formulaic and repetitious. One can only read so many sentences that start with "I predict..." and end with an exclamation point before they start to run together into one big psychic blur. The only real difference between the two Criswell books I read is that Your Next Ten Years has those marvelous illustrations and is more overtly conservative in its politics, with frequent denunciations of student protests, "Red Liberals," welfare, marijuana, LSD, and atheists. The author's most frequent bogeymen are, naturally, Mao Tse-Tung and Fidel Castro. As of now, I have not yet felt the need to explore Criswell's third and final book for Droke House. One reason is that I already have so much to occupy my time as I explore the weird and wonderful world of Ed Wood.

Case in point: there's a whole documentary devoted to the Bulgarian sleazemeister who, quite against his better judgment, hired Eddie again and again as a writer and crew member in the 1960s and 1970s. That man was Stephen C. Apostolof. Let us now explore his story...

DAD MADE DIRTY MOVIES (2012)



Alternate titles: None in this country, but its Finnish title means (roughly) Father Made Junk Movies, while its Hungarian title translates delightfully as Dad Did Pig Movies: The Stephen C. Apostolof Story.

Availability: As of right now, Dad Made Dirty Movies is not readily available for purchase or download here in the United States, but it has aired numerous times on television overseas and has appeared at over 30 film festivals. The version I screened came from a broadcast on Australia's SBS public television network. The best way to stay informed about the film's availability and learn of any upcoming screenings is through its regularly-updated Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the film's official site is... well, I'll let you find out for yourself. Meanwhile, if this documentary piques your interest in the films of Stephen Apostolof, you can check out two DVD collections of his work: The Lascivious World of A.C. Stevens & Ed D. Wood, Jr. (S'more Entertainment, 2008) and Big Box of Wood (S'more, 2011). There is some overlap between these sets, though. Fugitive Girls and Drop-Out Wife appear in both collections.

Orgy on VHS.
The backstory: When Rhino Home Video re-released Orgy of the Dead on VHS in 1995, the long-dormant film quickly gained a stubborn cult following with its naive, only-in-the-Sixties combination of sex, horror, and camp. Like all cult items, its utter weirdness inspired devotion from some, annoyance from others, and bafflement from most. Was this an insane masterpiece or one of the worst films of all time? Either way, credit for this one-of-a-kind film generally went to its notorious screenwriter, Edward D. Wood, Jr., who had been the subject of an Oscar-winning Hollywood biopic just the year before. Largely ignored in he hubbub was the film's director, Stephen C. Apostolof (aka A.C. Stephen).

This is unfortunate, as Apostolof had quite a colorful career and life of his own: escaping from communist-controlled Bulgaria, emigrating to the United States, landing a job at Warner Brothers, and ultimately directing and producing about sixteen softcore feature films in the 1960s and 1970s. Orgy, in fact, was only the first of Steve's half-dozen collaborations with Eddie Wood.

So where was the Stephen Apostolof tribute movie? Starting in 2011, Bulgarian film maker Jordan Todorov decided to change that with a documentary devoted to his cinematic countryman. By then, inconveniently enough, Steve had been dead for several years and was nothing more than a bag of ashes in a heavily-lacquered wooden cigar box. But his friends, relatives, and professional associates were still around, and they had plenty of stories to tell about the one-time smut peddler and devoted family man. As its title indicates, Dad Made Dirty Movies focuses most especially on the memories of Apostolof's now-grown children, and one of the main questions the film raises is: "What's it like to have a father who makes his living in the adult film industry?"

An oil portrait of Stephen Apostolof seen in Dad Made Dirty Movies.
To Steve's credit, his sons and daughters seem to have fond memories of the man, although they do express some trepidation over his first couple of marriages, both of which ended in acrimonious divorces. Steve claimed his first wife tried to poison him (she probably didn't), while his second wife took everything he owned, largely out of spite, after their short-lived union went sour. But his third marriage lasted until his death, and Wife #3, Shelly Apostolof, is another one of the movie's main interview subjects. Also appearing are actors Harvey Shane and David Ward, critic Greg Goodsell, Ed Wood biographer Rudolph Grey, cult filmmaker (and former Orgy of the Dead crew member) Ted V. Mikels, and the delightful Nadejda Dobrev, Orgy's infamous Slave Girl, still looking great.

Obviously, the one person missing here is Stephen C. Apostolof himself. If you've seen documentaries about Ed Wood from the '90s, you've likely seen interviews with Steve. Nattily attired, impeccably groomed, and still speaking with a heavy Bulgarian accent, Apostolof struck me as a cross between Hugh Hefner and Count Dracula, with maybe a little Don Corleone thrown in for good measure. In the film's single-biggest narrative conceit, Steve posthumously "narrates" Dad Made Dirty Movies via impersonator D.T. Andersen, who captures both the Eastern European inflection and charmingly-mangled syntax of the late director. Recounting Steve's first meeting with Ed Wood at the Brown Derby in Hollywood, for instance, Andersen tells us that Eddie was "dressed in a drag." The narration is the next best thing to having Apostolof himself in the film. I was reminded of similar beyond-the-grave narrations in movies like Sunset Blvd. (1950) and American Beauty (1999).

"Chipmunk cute" Rene Bond.
Handsomely photographed and well-paced, Todorov's documentary gives us a quick, glossy rundown of Stephen Apostolof's bizarre existence, starting with his convoluted and prolonged escape from communist-controlled Bulgaria, a tale which ultimately inspired his semi-autobiographical screenplay for Journey to Freedom (1957) and thus served as his entrance to the motion picture business. "As much as you can call somebody a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew, he was an anti-communist," Chris Apostolof says of his father. Obviously, though, the bulk of the film is devoted to Apostolof's 13-year run as the producer and director of adults-only "nudie cutie" movies, which he made under the name A.C. Stephen and usually released under the banner of SCA Productions. (Those letters, his initials, also appeared on his personalized licenese plate.)

Of these, Orgy of the Dead gets the most attention today simply by virtue of it being such an odd duck. With its cemetery setting and Universal-style horror trappings, Orgy is quite unlike the other sex films of its era... or of any era, honestly. Apostolof's subsequent "skin flicks," while entertaining and sexy, are more pedestrian, as denoted by their workaday titles: College Girls, Suburbia Confidential, The Snow Bunnies, etc. After 1965, Apostolof would never make an adult movie as extravagantly baroque as Orgy of the Dead ever again, with the possible exception of his 1969 costume drama, Lady Godiva Rides. Steve's resident leading man, Harvey Shane, shows up throughout Dad Made Dirty Movies to offer commentary and relay anecdotes. (And he's got a couple good ones which I won't spoil here. But keep your ears peeled for the aspirin story and the Albert Finney story.)

Todorov has also thoughtfully devoted sequences of the film to two of Stephen Apostolof's most-frequent leading ladies, the "chipmunk cute" Rene Bond and the proto-MILF Marsha Jordan, both of whom were above-average actresses in addition to exuding sex appeal on camera.

Apostolof's own Waterloo.
The era of relatively innocent softcore sex films had been ushered in by Russ Meyer in 1959 with The Immoral Mr. Teas, but these movies became essentially obsolete with the appearance of Gerard Damiano's Deep Throat (1972), the first hardcore film to reach a widespread audience. Apostolof hobbled along for a few more years in the "nudie cutie" game before making a disastrous attempt to break into legitimate, mainstream cinema with a diamond heist film called Hot Ice (1978). After going bust and losing his home, Apostolof essentially retired from the film business and spent his final years, against his will, living on Social Security in Mesa, AZ with his wife Shelly. This is a rather downbeat section of the film, presenting Stephen Apostolof as sort of a modern-day Napoleon Bonaparte living in exile, with the desolate-looking Mesa standing in for the island of St. Helena. Furthering the Napoleon analogy, one could consider Hot Ice to be Steve's personal Waterloo.

The attention lavished on his former employee, Ed Wood, in the 1980s and 1990s was a blessing and a curse to Apostolof. On the one hand, Ed's new-found fame brought some residual attention to Steve's films, mainly Orgy of the Dead. On the other hand, Steve resented the fact that Eddie -- whom he considered a nice guy and a decent writer but a hopeless director -- was getting the lion's share of the credit and the adulation from the public. If it's any consolation to Apostolof, there are several notable pop culture figures, including Criswell, Tor Johnson, and Vampira, who had major careers of their own but whose legacies are now inextricably tied to Ed Wood. Even some of Bela Lugosi's current fandom is rooted in the Wood cult. Such are the quirks of history! At least for this one movie, Ed Wood is a supporting player in Apostolof's story instead of the other way around.

The salad days: Steve Apostolof and his children.
The viewing experience: Satisfying, informative, pleasingly smutty, and even a little poignant. Apart from the goofy quirk of Steve's "ghostly" narration, Dad Made Dirty Movies plays like most pop culture documentaries: a mixture of "talking head" interviews, archival photographs (many of which have been "animated" via computer manipulation), some vintage news footage (Billy Graham walks by New York porno theaters; a bland news reporter talks about X-rated videotapes as if he's discussing grain futures), and plenty of clips from Stephen Apostolof's flesh-filled films. Given the nature of these movies, the viewer can expect a lot of nudity (mainly toplessness) and some tame simulated sex scenes, but nothing too shocking.

In some ways, I had to lament that Stephen Apostolof's timing was off. Sure, Deep Throat may have largely killed off the demand for "nudie cuties" in the theatrical market, but premium cable channels such as Cinemax and HBO would prove to have a ravenous appetite for softcore programming in the 1980s and 1990s. Steve would have done well to ignore Deep Throat and focus instead on Just Jaeckin's Emmanuelle (1974) or Alan Roberts' Young Lady Chatterly (1977). Those films did very nicely in the theaters and then became much-imitated and sequel-ized staples on cable TV. The key to their success was taking a slightly more highbrow, refined approach to screen sex and appealing to women as well as men, something Apostolof seemed unwilling or unable to do. Dad Made Dirty Movies makes it clear that Steve's audience was all-but-exclusively male. With a slightly broader approach, he might have become another Zalman King!

This one's for you,  Steve!
Still in all, it's a shame that Stephen Apostolof never really did get to revive his career as a director after the debacle of Hot Ice. In death, he left behind two intriguing "orphaned" projects: a script called State of Fear, which consumed a great deal of his time and effort to no avail, and even better, a sequel to Orgy of the Dead called Orgy of the Dead, Part 2, which would have given curious viewers some more insight into the lives of the Emperor and the Princess of Darkness and would have updated us on the fates of Bob and Shirley from the first film. Oh, the possibilities! But we are far from done with Stephen C. Apostolof! He worked with Eddie Wood many times, so he will be a major figure in the weeks to come.

NEXT WEEK:  For many years, I thought that Donald A. Davis, usually billed as "Don Davis," was just one of Ed Wood's many pseudonyms. After all, "Davis" was Ed's middle name, and he used the similar-sounding "Daniel Davis" when he starred in Glen or Glenda? in 1953. It made sense to me that they were one and the same. But, no, Donald A. Davis had a shadowy, troubled career all his own. He worked in a variety of capacities for Ed Wood in the 1950s and toiled for Stephen Apostolof in the 1960s. When it came time to direct and produce his own debut feature film, he chose to adapt one of Eddie's paperback novels. Surprisingly, most studies of Ed Wood's career skip over this curious flick, but not mine! Join me here in seven days, when we'll look at For Love & Money (1967)

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