Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Loop Orbit, Part Two by Greg Dziawer

Was Ed Wood involved in this loop series? Let's find out together.

It's now widely accepted that the first nineteen Swedish Erotica 8mm home-market loops were "made" by Ed Wood. Ed listed over 700 "short picture subjects" on his resume, produced between 1971 and 1973. In recent Ed Wood Wednesdays, we've dug deep into these loops, identifying common set decorations, transcribing subtitles often containing verbatim lines from other loops, and noting shared cinematic tropes from hundreds of related loops from that era.

In this week's Ed Wood Wednesdays, we're doing it again, focusing on one illustrative loop as our specimen.

Holmes and his friends cavort in Bare Harbor.
Bare Harbor (1974) is loop #2 in the short-lived V.I.P. Collection series, and it bears some of the hallmarks of the films to which Ed Wood is connected. In this eight-and-a-half-minute silent film, characters walk into and away from the camera, again and again, a signature trope in the X-rated loops of the time. The shot construction is mannerist and purposeful here. The reverse cut of star John Holmes and his two female costars walking away from the camera and toward his apartment collapses time and space, almost like a Maya Deren edit. And then the famously well-endowed male protagonist approaches the camera as he finishes bathing. You can guess where the camera focuses as the object in its sight comes toward us, growing. When used with this frequency, these sequences become spellbinding. And, of course, there are dissolve edits to reinforce the dreamlike feel. 

The title is presumably a pun on the phrase "safe harbor." Reader Michael Koenig points out that there is a place called Bear Harbor in northern California. "Ed loved puns," he adds. The plot has Holmes running into two ladies at a marina, apparently strangers, but it only takes the star two lines to ask them over to his place. Naturally they agree, and before you can blink, they are having a threesome. Perhaps this sort of cut-to-the-chase confidence is the secret the rest of us guys don't know about. 

In Bare Harbor, John sports his frizzier 1974 hair and physique. He looks more mature and possesses a confident presence, his skinny, awkward younger self evolving, both of those appealing. And all of it is soon to go up in a literal puff of freebase smoke. The series does in fact carry a 1974 copyright. Studio sets were becoming less frequent by then in the related orbit of loops, with greater use of both interior and exterior locations. 

Although The V.I.P. Collection (consisting of 12 films, all from 1974) is not commonly connected with similar loop series from that era—such as the early Swedish Erotica loops and the Fanny Films and Danish International Films series—they are all unquestionably products of the same creative principles.

Like those aforementioned series, V.I.P. sometimes released titles originally made by the Danish Color Climax Corporation. In this case, #5 of The V.I.P. Collection series, Sexy Schoolgirl, was produced and sold overseas by Color Climax as #18 of their Expo Film series.

The font and tenor of the subtitles, as well as their frequency and syntax, fall in line with early Swedish Erotica and the rest of the related loops. For the record, the subs here consist of 25 lines totaling 112 words. At 4.5 words per line, this represents one of the wordier texts I've seen. One subtitle in particular stretches to a near-endless 13 words:

Girl: SHALL WE BUY THIS ONE?

Girl: NO, TITS LOOK AROUND.

Holmes: HI THERE.

Girl: HI YOURSELF

Holmes: WOULD YOU GIRLS LIKE TO COME OVER TO MY PAD FOR A DRINK?

Holmes: I HAVE BEEN WORKING ALL DAY SO LET ME GET CLEANED UP.

Girl: I AM SO HOT COOL ME OFF A LITTLE.

Girl: COME HERE.

Holmes: HEY GIRL LOOK WHAT I HAVE FOR YOU.

Girls: WOW!!

Holmes: OH GIRLS LICK IT ALL.

Girls: UMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!

Holmes: LET ME PUT IT IN.

Holmes: OHHHHH!!!!

Holmes: OH! ARE YOU TIGHT.

Girl: OH THAT FEELS GREAT

Holmes: EAT HER AND I WILL GIVE IT TO YOU DOGGIE STYLE.

Girl: OHH!!!!!!!

Holmes: LAY DOWN ON THE COUCH.

Girl: PUMP AWAY.

Girl: OHHHHHH! MORE! MORE!

Girl: NOW GIRL IT IS MY TURN.

Holmes: OHHHHH!!!!!!

Girls: UMMMMMM!!

Holmes: LICK IT UP.

Someone must have told Ed Wood somewhere along the way that the correct term is "doggie style," and not "dog fashion" as he phrased it in earlier loop subtitles, loop box cover summaries and magazine texts. 

And, yes, the transcription is correct: "TITS LOOK AROUND." 

Ed's resume of "short picture subjects" ends in 1973. We will never know for sure the extent of his involvement in these loop series. I stand by my previous assertions that subtitles and box cover summaries are in scope. In terms of the latter, whoever wrote them—and the language is suggestive of it largely being the same person—engaged in ballyhoo of a sort characteristic of Ed, his magazine editorials and reviews a clue. Far from the flamboyant flim-flam of David Friedman or the macho "titty boom" style of Russ Meyer, this language is simple, earnest and direct. 

Contextualizing the theme of the series, here is the catalog summary of The V.I.P. Collection, with characteristic present-tense and odd capitalization:

And every word of it's true, too.

Specifically in his box cover summaries, Ed Wood was highly complimentary of the photography of the loops, frequently mentioning the quality of the camerawork and the crystal-clear close-ups. In this series summary, the assertions are all true: These loops do evince a concern for cinematic artistry far beyond the norms of the era. 

Could Ed have been praising himself

We'll continue grilling ourselves with related questions in future Ed Wood Wednesdays, as the loops continue to come into focus. 

Meanwhile, you can watch Bare Harbor streaming here.

1 comment:

  1. More fantastic work Greg! I see a documentary in this!

    ReplyDelete