Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 21: "Necromania" (1971)

Ed Wood's return to directing came in 1971 with the X-rated Necromania. Obviously, what follows is NSFW.

"We thought he was making a comedy, to tell you the bloody truth. We were just a bunch of young kids."
-Ric Lutze, an actor in Ed Wood's Necromania

Goodbye, Tor.
And now it is 1971. Whether he knows it or not, Edward Davis Wood, Jr. has only seven years to live. He and his wife, Kathy, have lost their little house on Bonner Street in North Hollywood and have moved into the seedy, violence-prone Mariposa Apartments at the intersection of Yucca and Cahuenga in LA. Before the year is out, Ed's longtime friend and long-ago star, Tor Johnson, will have died of heart failure at the age of 67. Nevermore will he break one of Ed's insufficiently-reinforced toilet seats with his massive bulk. Meanwhile, President Nixon promises his 207 million constituents that he will end the nation's involvement in Vietnam. Public support for the war dwindles every day, especially when an American-supported SVA offensive in Cambodia fails after six miserable weeks.

On the homefront, the so-called "generation gap" (a moral and aesthetic schism between the old and the young) has been turned into a sitcom, rechristened All in the Family, and given a spot on the CBS Saturday night lineup, right before Funny Face with Sandy Duncan. There are astronauts driving a buggy on the moon; the boxer once known as Cassius Clay has KO'd a draft-dodging rap; and Walt Disney's empire has spread to Orlando five years after his death.

On the radio, the ex-Beatles are either singing hymns to God ("My Sweet Lord") or questioning His very existence ("Imagine"). On movie screens, Gene Hackman and Clint Eastwood are both playing rule-flouting, fascistic cops to critical and popular acclaim, either acting as the urban saviors for whom we've been praying or embodying all our worst fears about what happens when power goes unchecked. Elsewhere in movieland, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange asks us which is more disturbing: an amoral generation of lawless punks who steal, rape, and kill simply to relieve their boredom.. or a totalitarian government which will resort to truly perverse and unnatural measures to stop them?

Clearly, it is a time of transition for America.

The adult film industry, too, is in flux. The sexual liberation movement has made odd bedfellows (sometimes literally) of idealistic First Amendment advocates, "free love"-preaching libertines, cynical hucksters, and frustrated lechers alike. Though their motivations vary, each of these disparate factions wants to take sex out of the bedroom and splash it across movie screens for all to see. In 1970, producer Bill Osco gave the world a novel form of diversion with his film Mona: The Virgin Nymph, the first X-rated feature with explicit, non-simulated coupling to achieve a mainstream release in the United States, cagily omitting the credits so as to avoid prosecution.

The "nudie cutie" and "beaver" films of yore, which featured plenty of nudity but no actual intercourse, are starting to look a little quaint, even prudish, by 1971. Gerard Damiano's watershed 1972 film Deep Throat, which will make adult films fashionable even in respectable society and permanently change the adult entertainment industry, is on deck. Something's up, and a lot of people want in on the action. One of those people is Ed Wood.

NECROMANIA (1971)

She is Tanya: Strange happenings in Ed Wood's Necromania.

Alternate titles: "Necromania": A Tale of Weird Love! For a while, it was assumed that The Only House aka The Only House in Town was a re-edited version of Necromania. But, no, The Only House was a separate feature film that Ed wrote and directed around the same time. A DVD release is (hopefully) forthcoming.

Availability: The original DVD release of the complete hardcore and softcore versions (Fleshbot Films, 2004) is currently out of print, but you can still nab a used copy for twenty bucks on Amazon. In 1994, Something Weird Video marketed an incomplete VHS version of Necromania as part of its series, Frank Henenlotter's Sexy Shockers From the Vaults, with an added featurette in which author Rudolph Grey and others discuss the film. For $15, it's yours. Necromania was reissued on DVD in 2014 by Alpha Blue Video. This new disc contains the softcore version plus all of the hardcore scenes as special features, along with an assortment of films starring Maria Arnold. The retail cost is $24.95.

The softcore version is also available as part of the Rene Bond Triple Feature Two set (Alpha Blue Productions, 2006) along with Teenage Sex Kitten (1975, dir. Ann Perry) and Sex-O-Phrenia (1972, dir. unknown) for as little as $12 here.

A Pendulum Pictorial.
The backstory: Ed Wood's not-terribly-lucrative-but-better-than-nothing relationship with an adult entertainment concern known as Pendulum Publishing, which operated out of a building on West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, began in roughly 1968. He needed work, and they needed writers. Quantity and speed were the guiding principles of the smut business. Get the horny customer's $1.75 away from him before the other guys even have a chance to make a grab at it.  In short order, the company published Eddie's Bye Bye Broadie, The Svengali of Sex, and Raped in the Grass as "Pendulum Pictorials," i.e. pornographic stories liberally illustrated with numerous photographs. These were slyly, if falsely, marketed as tie-ins with nonexistent film productions.

Duplicity was part of the company's business model: its official name was Calga Publishers, but its products also came out under the Pendulum and Gallery brands, among others. A results-oriented man named Bernie Bloom (who departed our realm over a quarter-century ago) was Pendulum's owner, and he ran the proverbial tight ship. He had to. There were too many competitors in this crowded field to allow for any slacking. In a reflective and informative article, writer Leo Eaton remembered his days at Pendulum in 1970-71. The place was like a factory, Eaton says. You clocked in (with a time card, yet!), went to a windowless office (or "cell" in Pendulum parlance), and started clicking and clacking away at an electric typewriter. If Bernie was paying you for eight hours of writing, he expected to hear eight hours of typing.

This attitude was not unique in the adult industry. In an article from 2003, late film critic Roger Ebert recalled his experience writing the screenplay of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for director Russ Meyer:
"Working with Meyer was exhilarating but demanding. He equated writing with typing. He kept his office door open, and whenever he couldn't hear my typewriter keys, he'd shout, 'What's the matter?'"
While Eaton and the other "young Turks" on the Pendulum payroll -- restless men twenty years Ed's junior -- looked at the company as a mere way station on the path to a legitimate writing or film career, Wood seemed to be there for the long haul and took the job much more seriously than they did. A crumbling old sot who occasionally wore miniskirts and angora sweaters to work and who tried without success to convince his youthful coworkers that he used to make movies with Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood seems to have been a comical mascot figure in the dreary Pendulum offices.

While his associates shirked their duties playing "push pins" (a workplace variation on darts) in the hallway and blatantly plagiarized entire manuscripts until they got caught at it, the ever-earnest Eddie kept slaving away at that typewriter, cranking out books, articles, and short stories for the firm until about 1975. Pendulum put out numerous magazines each month, after all, and those magazines needed content -- even if customers were buying them strictly for the pictures and barely glanced at the words next to them.

Ed was a company man through and through, and when Pendulum decided to get into the feature film game under yet another banner, Cinema Classics (not to be confused with Screen Classics, the company that produced Glen or Glenda?), Eddie immediately stepped up and offered to direct it. "I can do it," he told editor Charles Anderson. "You want Gone with the Wind? Anything you want, I'll give it to you."

To say the least, however, Cinema Classics did not have the financial wherewithal of Selznick International Pictures. Ed's typically overambitious quote reminded me of a scene from Tim Burton's biopic Ed Wood (1994). In Burton's film, Eddie (Johnny Depp) and producer George Weiss (Mike Starr) meet in the cluttered, dingy cinder-block offices of Screen Classics, where Ed declares that George's upcoming Christine Jorgensen biopic needs "a star" to give it legitimacy. George scoffs at this pie-in-the-sky notion.
Weiss: Kid, you must have me confused with David Selznick. I don't make major motion pictures. I make crap. 
Wood: Yes, but if you take that crap and put a star in it, then you've got something! 
Weiss: Yeah. Crap with a star.
George Weiss reminds Ed he's not David O. Selznick.
In fact, Ed Wood did have a star in mind for Necromania, namely Maila "Vampira" Nurmi from Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). Though they hadn't worked together for over a decade, Nurmi still thought enough of Ed to at least take his phone call while she was laid-up in an LA hospital with an undisclosed illness. When Ed described the role to her, however, Nurmi wasn't interested. She felt, perhaps rightly, that appearing totally nude and emerging from a coffin while a man jumped on her would be "professional suicide."

Disappointed yet determined, Ed was forced to carry on without Ms. Nurmi. The script, based on Ed's short story "Come Inn" (published in Pendulum's Young Beavers magazine in 1971) and typed up at his usual breakneck pace, apparently clocked in at about 20 pages, mostly dialogue with very minimal screen directions. For the all-important love scenes, the script merely instructed the actors to "go into sex." Pendulum had every faith in Ed and so allowed him as much creative free reign as he could muster within the film's $7000 budget and three-day shooting schedule.

Legend of Heles House: Dan and Shirley go exploring.
As was typical of him, Ed contrived a pseudo-Gothic, quasi-horror scenario for Necromania complete with prominent references to his dear departed friend, Bela Lugosi, and Lugosi's signature role of Count Dracula. The plot of the film ostensibly centers around necromancy, a type of black magic which involves communication with the dead. In reality, of course, the film centers around graphic depictions of heterosexual and lesbian lovemaking. That's what sold tickets, and everyone involved with this movie knew it. As long as Ed included plenty of sex scenes (and his bosses knew he wouldn't fail in that department), Pendulum was fine with whatever plot Ed wanted to use for the movie.

The finished film revolves around young lovers Dan and Shirley who pose as a married couple called "the Carpenters" when they visit the eerie mansion of a mysterious woman named Madame Heles (her name is pronounced "heals") for a weekend of sensual instruction and erotic exploration. Danny has been struggling with what we'd now call erectile dysfunction and seems to be selfish and uncaring in bed, so fed-up Shirley has given him an ultimatum: either get some help or find a new girlfriend. Since there is no one at the door to greet them, Dan and Shirley let themselves in and are soon confronted by Tanya (some sources say "Tonya"), Madame Heles' sexy, nightgown-clad assistant, who informs them that her mistress sleeps by day in a coffin and will only attend to them at midnight.

Seeing as it's only 2:30 in the afternoon, Dan and Shirley retire to their room and unsuccessfully attempt to have sex, little suspecting that they are constantly being spied upon by Tanya, who peeps on them through the cut-out eyes of an owl painting on the wall. After performing a strange ritual with a bronze skull at an altar in front of Madame Heles' coffin, Tanya reluctantly "services" another houseguest, a petulant greaser named Carl. Frustrated and sexually unsatisfied, Shirley wanders around the house and meets yet another self-declared "inmate," a dark-haired woman named Barb who introduces her to the gentle joys of sapphic love. Tanya, meanwhile, seduces Dan and then shows him a roomful of Madame Heles' permanent residents: men and women whose sexual addiction precludes their reentry into polite society.

A gong signals the hour of midnight, and all the characters convene in the foreboding "red room" which houses Madame Heles' coffin. Barb and Tanya make love, which shocks and offends Danny. The infamous necromancer Madame Heles finally appears and asks for a status report on the new arrivals. Barb declares that Shirley has "learned her sex well," so the necromancer allows her to "graduate." But what about Danny? Well, he has one more lesson to go. Carl, Barb, and Tanya strip him naked, and he is forced to make love to Madame Heles inside the coffin. It is a success. "I'm a man!" declares Danny. "I'm a man! Oh, great! Oh, great!"

Ed Wood on the set of Necromania in 1971.
Necromania's production was more prosaic than its plot suggests. The sets were largely constructed within the studio of noted talent agent and cameraman Hal Guthu, who acted as the movie's cinematographer (a duty he'd previously performed for Love Feast and Take It Out in Trade). Possibly out of legal concerns, however, Guthu would not allow any hardcore scenes to be filmed in his studio. Therefore, the graphic shots of cunnilingus, fellatio, and vaginal intercourse were shot elsewhere by secondary cameraman Ted Gorley and inserted into the finished film. Neither Gorley nor Guthu would receive any onscreen credit in Necromania, and considering the legal atmosphere of the time, they wouldn't have wanted to. Legalities even forced the normally-unabashed Ed Wood to be humble this time around. He was billed under the bland pseudonym "Don Miller" for pulling double duty as writer and director. As for the actresses and actors in the film, a simple title card merely informed viewers that "Our Cast Wish to Remain Anonymous."

Production of the film occurred as Los Angeles was experiencing 110-degree temperatures, and the actors were nearly overcome by heat exhaustion while working under the hot movie lights. But they, and Ed, got through it somehow. While several cast and crew members recall Eddie coming to the studio in drag, the one widely-circulated photo of Eddie on the set of Necromania shows him in a sleeveless t-shirt and sweatpants, his booze-swollen face framed by a greasy-looking mullet. To be honest, he looks like a shabby porn industry lowlife, the type of untrustworthy character about whom young starlets are warned before they take the fatal bus trip to Hollywood. But Gorley remembered that "the cast loved Ed."

The fact that Eddie finished the film at all is a testament to his perseverance. He'd been on one of his customary binges the week before filming began but showed up on time and ready to go on the first day of production. Necromania's two most prominent and remarked-upon props were the dark, lacquered coffin of Madame Heles and a terrified-looking, taxidermied wolf. The latter, the film's single most expensive item, was charmingly referred to in the script as "the wolf mummy," simultaneously suggesting both the Wolfman and the Mummy from Orgy of the Dead (1965). The coffin, a Lincoln-era relic, was supplied by Orgy's star, the Amazing Criswell, who paid a visit to his old buddy Ed Wood on the set.

California girl: Rene Bond and her proud papa.
Necromania's lead actress was LA porn princess Rene Bond, a cheerful, chipmunk-cute brunette who would vacillate between softcore films, including several directed by Stephen C. Apostolof and written by Ed Wood; hardcore films; and even the occasional "legit" film (like 1973's Invasion of the Bee Girls), racking up potentially hundreds of credits throughout the 1970s. The daughter of a small town politician who took great pride in his little girl and a doting mother who accompanied her everywhere, Rene entered the adult entertainment industry in the late 1960s because she needed money and soon became a favorite of directors, producers, and fans with her sweet personality and svelte, squeezable figure.

As film historian Greg Goodsell stated in the 2012 documentary Dad Made Dirty Movies: "Everybody liked Rene Bond.... [Her father] would get the chamber of commerce to see her hardcore pornographic films and he would say, 'That's my daughter!'" On the side, Rene modeled, stripped, sang, and sold pictures of herself through the mail. At the time of Necromania, Rene was married to her sandy-haired, unassuming co-star, Ric Lutze, an adult film performer in his own right who remained active until the mid-1980s and who appeared in some of the same films as Rene even after the couple's 1972 divorce, including Morris Deal's enticingly-named Beach Blanket Bango (1975). Rene's second husband, minor adult performer Tony Mazziotti, also appeared in Bango, which must have made for an interesting set. Tony and Rene's marriage would last about three years, finally dissolving in 1976.

Relatively early in her film career, Rene got breast implants in a successful gambit to nab more screen work. ("I was told there's a North American breast fetish," she'd recall to an interviewer in 1977.)  In Necromania, however, Rene's assets appear to be all-natural. She's not flat-chested by any means, but she doesn't have the familiar bubble-shaped boobs she would sport in later productions. Rene, a friend and client of Hal Guthu, retired from movies in the early 1980s. In either 1985 or 1986 (sources vary), she resurfaced as a winning contestant on a game show called Break the Bank, where she appeared alongside her new husband, Lonnie Levine.



The "wolf mummy" with its mistress, Madam Heles.
This happy television appearance, in which she was identified as a "bankruptcy specialist" and seemed for all the world like a devoted and totally "normal' suburban wife, was Rene Bond's last moment in the national spotlight. In the late 1980s and 1990s, she became a fixture on the Las Vegas scene and apparently descended into alcoholism. In 1996, she died from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of only 46. She was posthumously inducted into the Legends of Erotica Hall of Fame for her years of service to the adult industry. Lonnie Levine was last seen giving tours of L.A. crime scenes and donating some of the proceeds to charity.

To this day, Bond is one of the most fondly-remembered actresses from the so-called Golden Age of Pornography, and there are numerous DVD collections of her films, both soft and hardcore. While she wasn't exactly taking roles away from Meryl Streep, Rene was a capable performer with an innate likability and a girl-next-door quality that audiences obviously appreciated. I certainly disagree with critic Danny Peary, who in his book Cult Movie Stars (1991) cattily dismissed Bond as a "non-cutie" whose "acting skills never improved." If any of this were true, her fame would have faded away decades ago.

Besides Bond and Lutze, the only positively identified cast member of this film is Maria Arnold, another adult actress and model who would cross professional paths with Rene several times in the future. Necromania would presumably have been hitting theaters around the same time Maria was profiled as one of the "Girls of Porno" in Playboy's October 1971 issue. Here, Arnold plays the pivotal but rarely-seen Madame Heles, the role Eddie intended for Vampira. In a sense, Arnold follows in the proud tradition of such ghoulish ingenues as Fawn Silver and Valda Hansen.

Although multiple sources state that Ed Wood appears in this movie as some kind of Orson Welles-ish sexual wizard (even Ric Lutze remembered Eddie having "a bit part" in the film), don't you believe them. He appears in neither of the verified-as-complete prints of the film I just screened, and there are only six speaking roles in the entire production so it's not like he'd be hard to spot. Either Ed's scene was cut (unlikely) or the cameo actually appeared in The Only House (1971), a still-missing film that Ed wrote and directed several months after making Necromania. If it's any consolation, Ted Gorley remembered Necromania as being the superior film.

Sex Ed: Wood's textbook.
Superior or not, Necromania seems to have enjoyed a very brief, almost nonexistent life in theaters. Ed Wood was certainly proud of it, however, touting it as part of "the trend toward better entertainment in the XX rated films" in A Study in the Motivation of Censorship: Sex and the Movies, Book 1 (Edusex, 1972), one of the many ersatz, supposedly "educational" textbooks Ed penned for the pornographic market in the 1970s. "The emphasis," he wrote, '"is placed on the basic story." He went on to praise the cast and crew and declared that Necromania would not insult the intelligence of the adult film audience. For many years, the only version of the film which was available to the public was an incomplete VHS tape of the softcore edition.

In 2004, however, Fleshbot Films -- a now-defunct spin-off of the popular Fleshbot porn blog -- released a DVD which billed Necromania as "Ed Wood's Last Movie" and contained supposedly-complete prints of the hard and soft cuts, both of which Eddie had edited himself over 30 years previously. The hardcore Necromania is only about a minute longer than its R-rated incarnation and contains a few explicit shots of oral and vaginal sex as well as the requisite "cum shot" in which Ric Lutze ejaculates onto Maria Arnold. The oddest difference between the two different versions of the movie is that at least half of the hardcore Necromania seems to have been accidentally "flopped," i.e reversed horizontally so that left is right and vice versa. In Ed Wood, Mad Genius, Rob Craig remarks at some length on this odd continuity error and speculates about its possible significance. Curiously, the softcore cut is not affected by this. Such are the mysteries of Ed Wood.

The viewing experience: As erotica, Necromania is approximately as arousing as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004). I'm not saying that to be glib. During the film's tender love scenes (all of them surprisingly gentle until the finale), I honestly got the same queasy feeling I experienced while watching Jim Caviezel being whipped until his flesh was torn, raw, and bloody. A lot of this has to do with the look of the film: the harsh, unflattering photography which tends to make the actors look either too pale or too red, especially in contrast to the vulgar colors of the costumes, props, and sets, which employ tacky, nauseating shades of red, pink, purple, yellow, orange, and even puke green -- the over-saturated hues you'd expect to find in an artificially-colored breakfast cereal intended for hyperactive children. One particularly unsightly bedspread appears to have been made out of the beloved Sesame Street character Big Bird. (Again, not an attempt at glibness but a genuine reaction.)

It's tough for any actors to look good in front of such a gaudy backdrop, even my beloved Rene Bond. In preparation for this review, I watched both the softcore and hardcore versions of Necromania (approximately 52 and 53 minutes long, respectively), and I found that it helped considerably to turn the color off and watch the film in black-and-white. It was still not exactly a treat for the eyes, but it was no longer such a harsh assault upon them either.

Fawn Silver's Princess of Darkness in Orgy of the Dead.
Fortunately, the diligent Wood-ologist will find much consolation in Necromania's script, which is laden with the trappings that have made Ed Wood's other movies so distinctive. He may have been working under an assumed moniker, but Eddie definitely put his signature on this one. Most obviously, the heroine shares the same name as Ed's drag persona -- Shirley. The castle-like mansion of Madame Heles is a disorienting, architecturally-impossible location very much like the reconfigured Willows Place in Night of the Ghouls (1959). Just like that movie, there is no relationship between the interior and exterior, and each room of the house seems to exist in its own dimension, totally isolated in space and time.

The vaguely sinister bric-a-brac which clutters the walls and halls of Madame Heles' abode -- various skulls, wall hangings, scrolls with Chinese characters, velvet paintings, an inverted cross with a rubber snake wrapped around it, and even an ax -- is similar to the debris and detritus of Bela Lugosia's celestial "laboratory" in Glen or Glenda? (1953). Furthermore, the tasteless use of brightly-colored decor to denote Madame Heles' suburban castle as a "house of sin" recalls Love Feast (1969) and Take It Out in Trade (1970). Even a moment when Danny wakes up in bed and sadly caresses the pillow of the absent Shirley made me think of Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), in which Mona McKinnon's character, Paula Trent, confesses that she touches the pillow of her pilot husband Jeff (Gregory Walcott) when he's away.

The movie Necromania most closely resembles, however, is Orgy of the Dead (1965). Both films depict the swift sexual reeducation/radicalization of a squabbling heterosexual couple: a woman named Shirley and her insensitive lunkhead of a boyfriend. Both films emphasize the combination of eroticism and horror with ghoulish, Halloween-type sexual rituals. With her rigid, ceremonial language, Tanya seems to be a first cousin of Fawn Silver's Princess of Darkness. Carl, arguably Necromania's most ridiculous and hilarious character, also recalls Fawn Silver with his demand for immediate sexual gratification. ("Now is the time!")

I must remark again how Orgy and Necromania both uncannily presage 1975's The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is not difficult to see Dan and Shirley as Brad and Janet, Madame Heles as Frank-N-Furter, libertine Barb as Columbia or Magenta, and jealous, brooding Carl as Riff-Raff. How interesting to note that all three of these movies have a severely compressed timeline and mostly unfold over the course of one night!

Meanwhile, the film's dreamy quality and use of pagan-like sexual ceremonies makes it a precursor to Jim and Artie Mitchell's landmark art-porn smash, Behind the Green Door (1972). It's noteworthy that in both Love Feast and Necromania, there is an ornate door which acts as a portal between humdrum reality and the world of debauched pleasure. Once inside that door, the morality of the outside world no longer applies. And it cannot be a coincidence that Necromania, like Ed Wood's Final Curtain (1957), ends with the hero climbing into a coffin and shutting the lid.

And then, of course, there is the dialogue. Cowboy star Johnny Carpenter once declared Ed Wood's writing to be "too perfect." He meant that as a complaint, but in the long run, the stilted formality of Eddie's scripts is a big part of what made them immortal. In preparation for this article, in fact, I took the liberty of transcribing every last line in this movie. (Don't worry. There aren't many of them. This is a sex film, after all, not Shakespeare in the Park.) I could have just cut and pasted the entire file into this article, but I decided to hone it down to a more reasonable length by cherry picking the movie's best and most memorable lines. Here, then, are my favorite quotes from Necromania. Feel free to read them aloud if you care to.
(Dan and Shirley sneak into Madame Heles' house; Danny is nervous)

Shirley: Sometimes I think you're more of an old woman than my mother!
Dan: I just don't like to think of going to jail!
Shirley: We're invited guests!
Dan: Then where's the invitee?
Shirley: Oh, be quiet and close the door!
Dan: Any minute, I expect Bela Lugosi as Dracula!
(Dan and Shirley enter the bizarre, prop-laden Red Room.) 
Dan: Good lord!
Shirley: You can say that again.
Dan: Good lord!
(Tanya introduces herself.
Tanya: You are Danny and Shirley Carpenter? I am Tanya.
Dan: (to Shirley) She's Tanya.
(Tanya demonstrates a dildo which, when squeezed, makes the sound of a doorbell.) 
Tanya: All you must do is squeeze this little dong for attention.
(Dan and Shirley argue privately.) 
Dan: I don't like this whole setup.
Shirley: I admit it's a strange place, but strange happenings come from strange happenings!
Shirley: You wouldn't know what to do with a bed if you did try it out!
Dan: I sure wish you'd stop trying to insult my manhood!
Shirley: Manhood? Ha! That's what we came here for -- to get you a manhood!

Shirley: Madame Heles is not a witch. She's a necromancer.
Dan: That still spells witch to me. W-I-T-C-H. Witch!

(Carl, clad only in his tighty-whities, stops Tanya in the hall to beg for sex.
Tanya: Carl... I do believe you have become in-sash-able.
Carl: Only because you... (awkward pause) ...taught me to be that way.
Tanya: I suppose I have. But there are others in the house now. And others to be serviced.
Carl: (whining like a spoiled brat) BUT I WANNA BE FIRST! I must come first! I PAID PLENTY TO BE FIRST! To be completely cured!

(Unsatisfied by Dan, Shirley tosses a blanket over him before leaving the room.) 
Shirley: Have fun.

(Shirley bumps into the wolf mummy in the hall, then is confronted by Barb.) 
Shirley: You nearly made me wet my nightgown, old boy! It's new, too.
Barb: (trying to seduce Shirley) He died of rabies, you know.

(Barb hints that Danny is receiving sexual instruction in Shirley's absence.) 
Shirley: Danny's in training?
Barb: You bet your sweet bippy!

(During a private tryst.) 
Tanya: (to Dan, who's worried about appearing "conventional") The word conventional has many connotations, never more so than in this establishment.

(Dan and Shirley, accompanied by their new bed partners, reunite in the Red Room.) 
Dan: Where have you been?
Shirley: I could ask you the same question!
Dan: Well, I had a delightful time.
Shirley: Yes, but did she?
(At the final ritual.) 
Madame Heles: (about newly-graduated Shirley) Henceforth, she shall live for sex and sex alone!

The 2004 Fleshbot DVD.
And that's really just a sampling of what you'll find in this movie, folks. There's more where that came from, I assure you. Necromania is one of the most quotable films in the entire Ed Wood canon. An adventurous theater troupe could turn it into quite an entertaining stage play, as long as they depicted the fornication in an abstract, non-representational way. Viewers more comfortable with such Eisenhower-era fare as Plan 9 from Outer Space and Bride of the Monster may not want to sit through an X-rated Ed Wood film which contains graphic sex acts.

But don't be scared away from Necromania. As noted previously, the disc contains a less-explicit R-rated version which contains copious (and unappetizing) nudity but no oral or vaginal sex. It's kind of a shame that there isn't an even softer cut of Necromania which dials back the sexual content even further and places the emphasis where Ed Wood intended: on the plot and dialogue. "Although the sex scenes are what the public wants and demands," the director wrote in 1972, "they are also being treated to a well-balanced storyline which is sure to get rave notices in the publications which outline such films."

Compared to the Internet pornography of the 21st century, Necromania is positively Victorian in its chastity. Can you imagine a modern day sex flick in which anybody gives a damn whether the leading man and lady are legally married? Yeah, neither can I.

And if Ed Wood's moral turpitude were ever in doubt, he made sure to add a totally-out-of-left-field anti-marijuana message to the script. When Shirley mentions that necromancers have lots of "potions" which can help those with sexual performance issues, Danny is offended. "You mean dope?" he snaps. "You know I don't take dope!" Once again, career alcoholic Ed Wood was expressing his utter disdain for illicit drugs and the hippie culture that spawned them. Even though Necromania borrows at least two catchphrases from Laugh In ("And that's the truth!" and "You bet your sweet bippy!"), it was obviously the work of a man who was completely out of touch with the Love Generation. 

Next week: Reunited and it feels so good! Seven years after Orgy of the Dead, the second collaboration between screenwriter Edward D. Wood, Jr. and director Stephen C. Apostolof arrived in America's movie theaters. Steve had made seven movies in the meantime, just without Ed Wood's distinctive input. But the two got back together in a big way during the Nixon era, and their partnership would produce seven more movies in a mere six years, starting with a feature which explored what really happened to the class of '69.  While Harry Reems was curing Linda Lovelace's sexual frigidity in a most unorthodox manner, Apostolof's leading lady Marsha Jordan was in a nostalgic mood as she, too, caught up with old acquaintances... including Rene Bond and Ric Lutze. Make sure you're back here in seven days for The Class Reunion (1972).
 

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