Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 44: An avalanche of Ed Wood!

It's raining Ed! Hallelujah, it's raining Ed!

: It had been my intention to review Ed Wood's The Vampire's Tomb (2013), a film by Andre Perkowski, today. However, I have been inundated with so much exciting Ed Wood news lately that I felt I simply had to devote this week's entire article to it. The Vampire's Tomb will just have to wait until next the next installment of Ed Wood Wednesdays on August 6. Sorry, Andre.
In what I can only interpret as a sign of the massive success of Ed Wood Wednesdays, a dizzying variety of Ed Wood-related material will be hitting the marketplace with a Genghis Khan-like vengeance in the next few months. This is clearly an endorsement of my work. What else could it be? Consider the evidence: after many years without any significant re-releases, other than the Big Box of Wood DVD collection in 2011, the Wood-ian floodgates have finally opened, my dear readers! We're talking movies, books, and even a fancy-schmancy New York film festival. The works!

Naturally, I'm very excited about all of these events, and I want you to be excited about them, too. In all seriousness, I think it's just a happy coincidence that all of these things are happening at once. Maybe the stars have aligned perfectly. Maybe something got into the water supply. Whatever it is, it's happening, and I could not be more pleased. But what specifically are we getting and when? Let's dive into those all-important specifics, shall we?


New DVDs from Alpha Blue Archives.
A company called Alpha Blue Archives, which specializes in "vintage adult movies," will be releasing four out-of-print Ed Wood-scripted adult films on DVD on September 1, 2014. It's a series they are calling the Lost Sex Films of Ed Wood. All four of these movies seem to have been released originally in 1971. Here is a link to the trailer. The Alpha Blue site is taking pre-orders now. The discs, each sold separately, are $24.95 apiece. However, Alpha Blue offers a couple of discounts for larger orders: five DVDs for $75 or ten for $99. It's actually cheaper to buy five movies than four, so if you're planning to purchase the Ed Wood movies, you might as well pick something else out from the Alpha Blue catalog and save yourself some cash. The discs are available at Amazon as well, of course. Individually, the titles are as follows:

  • The Undergraduate (1971) - Produced by Jacques "Jack" Descent, who also produced the Wood-scripted Operation Redlight (1969), this film stars Suzanne Fields, Eve Orlon, Carmen Olivera, and Alice Friedland. Based on the trailer, The Undergraduate seems to have a pseudo-documentary, quasi-educational slant to it, which aligns it with Glen or Glenda? and many of Eddie's paperback books as well. Alpha Blue says it's about "bell-bottomed teenagers exploring with abandon their budding sexuality." I'm guessing it's softcore. This will be my first opportunity to sample the work of Jacques Descent, which makes me especially keen to see it. Also included on the disc are The Lost Films of Suzanne Fields, three rare 16mm features (Ward Sex, The Young Model, and The Sex Spa) starring Ms. Fields, an actress probably best known as Dale in Flesh Gordon (1974). In the 1970s porn world, by the way, a typical "feature" lasts just under an hour. 
  • Necromania (1971) - Of course, this is a film I have already covered as part of Ed Wood Wednesdays, but it's nice to see it get a brand-new DVD edition with a "new digital transfer," plus special features. Directed and written by Ed Wood himself, Necromania is a supernatural sex thriller starring Rene Bond and then-husband Ric Lutze as a frustrated couple who seek the services of a necromancer to solve their bedroom problems. Since there are two versions of the film, Alpha Blue Archives promises to include "the complete softcore version as well [as] all of the alternate explicit scenes." The disc is rounded out by The Lost Films of Maria Arnold. Alpha Blue has rounded up a trio of Maria's semi-forgotten 1970s films (Pleasure Between Heaven and Hell, For Love of Money, and the delightfully-titled Oakie Maid, which also features Rene Bond) for our collective enjoyment. 
Casey Larrain and Ed Wood in Nympho Cycler.
  • Nympho Cycler (1971) - You wanna talk obscure? According to Alpha Blue, Nympho Cycler is "Ed Wood's previously lost sexploitation biker flick." The IMDb currently lists Eddie as the writer, and he even acts in the film -- in drag, no less! The official plot summary: "A young motorcycle-riding wife (Casey Larrain) hits the road to escape her old, cross-dressing husband (Edward D. Wood, Jr.) when she tires of him pimping her out. On the road she encounters lesbian drug addicts and wild biker parties while attempting to evade a violent gang of thugs sent by her husband to rape her." I'm glad that Alpha Blue is tacking on The Lost Films of Casey Larrain (Caught in the Can, Scent of Love, and Hedonist Hypnotist), since Ms. Larrain is an actress who has intrigued me in her other Wood-related films, Love Feast and Take it Out in Trade. Speaking of which, this generous disc also includes an excerpt from Love Making USA, the porno-doc that repurposes Ed and Casey's scenes from Love Feast
Alice Friedland
  • The Young Marrieds (1971) - Alpha Blue calls this "Ed Wood's XXX erotic swan song" and trumpets the participation of actress Alice Friedland, who worked in adult movies for the better part of a decade, occasionally showing up in more mainstream fare like John Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976). Alpha Blue says that The Young Marrieds, which is not to be confused with Married Too Young (1962), "triumphs as an explicit sex flick due to the frisky innocence of Alice Friedland in one of her few hardcore roles." Naturally, the disc is fleshed out with The Lost Films of Alice Friedland. The three Friedland rarities they've conjured up (Kiss My Analyst, Analyze Your Sex, and The Adventures of Flash Beaver) sound like fun. 
  • I was personally alerted to the existence of The Young Marrieds by erotic film collector Dimitrios Otis, who stressed to me that he is "not associated with this release" and that "the official release of The Young Marrieds will be through Alternative Cinema." Indeed, the Alternative Cinema website has its own page for Ed Wood's Dirty Movies, a three-film collection coming to DVD on November 14, 2014 and comprising The Young Marrieds, Nympho Cycler, and Shot on Location. This retails for $29.95 and will contain a trailer gallery and liner notes by Dimitrios Otis. The site also points out that all three titles will be available separately on "supporting digital platforms."
Alternative Cinema has its own plans for the 1970s catalog of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Folks, I am eagerly awaiting the release of these new DVDs. Once I get my greasy mitts on them and thoroughly review their content, I will report back to you in the manner to which you have become accustomed. The Alpha Blue discs have a "street date" of September 1, but I doubt that many retailers are going to be stocking vintage porn films from 40 years ago on their shelves. Maybe you live in an especially cool neighborhood. I don't. So I suspect that most of us are going to be relying on the United States Postal Service for these. That's what I'm doing.

In the meantime, what of Ed Wood's 15-year literary career? Sure, it's great that Alpha Blue Archives is releasing a whole slew of Eddie's old movies, but is anyone curating his books and stories? Funny you should mention that, because it brings us to the second big announcement.

BLOOD SPLATTERS QUICKLY: The Collected Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

A new compilation of Ed Wood's short stories is coming our way soon.

Remember Bob Blackburn, Kathy Wood's friend during the later years of her life? He was instrumental in getting some of Ed Wood's books back in print in the 1990s and helped arrange for Eddie's languishing screenplay, I Woke Up Early the Day I Died, to become an all-star motion picture extravaganza in 1998. And now, Bob has given his blessing to a brand-new book that compiles over thirty of the short stories Ed Wood wrote back in the 1970s. Blood Spatters Quickly: The Collected Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. is set to be released "in August" by O/R Books, an independent New York publishing house named for its two founders, John Oakes and Colin Robinson. The company, best known for releasing a 2009 parody of Sarah Palin's autobiography, sells its wares directly to the public from its own website, thus avoiding bookstores, wholesalers, and sites such as Amazon. O/R Books is currently accepting pre-orders for Blood Spatters Quickly. You can choose the paperback ($17), the e-book ($10), or both ($24). Here's an appetizing excerpt from the promotional blurb:
Perhaps the purest expression of Wood’s théma—pink angora sweaters, over-the-top violence and the fraught relationships between the sexes—can be found in his unadulterated short stories, many of which (including “Blood Splatters Quickly”) appeared in short-lived “girly” magazines published throughout the 1970s. The 32 stories included here have been verified by Bob Blackburn, a trusted associate of Kathy Wood, Ed’s widow. In the forty years or more since those initial appearances in adult magazines, none of these stories has been available to the public.
A newsstand special
Apart from the three short stories included in Muddled Mind: The Complete Works of Edward D. Wood, Jr., this is an aspect of Eddie's career that is unknown to me. According to Rudolph Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy, Wood wrote "literally hundreds of short stories," both under his own name and pseudonymously, during the last ten years of his life. These were generally published by Bernie Bloom's Pendulum Publishing Co. (aka Calga or Gallery) in magazines like Hot Fun, Deuce, Woman's World, Wild Couples, Beavers, Wild Cats, Freaked Out, Gold Diggers, Belly Button, and Two Plus Two. Occasionally, Pendulum would publish newsstand specials with multiple Wood stories, including Monster Sex Tales and Horror Sex Tales.

You can find some titles of individual stories in both Muddled Mind and Nightmare of Ecstasy, but I'm going to refrain from speculating which particular tales will or will not be included in Blood Splatters Quickly until I actually have a copy of the book in my hands. I wouldn't want to promise anything that I couldn't deliver, and I believe the lineup was still being finalized recently. If you'd like to learn a little more about Eddie's experiences at Pendulum, I refer you to my article for Necromania. Rest assured, once Blood Splatters Quickly is in my possession, I will give you a thorough account of its contents.

And the hits just keep on coming...

(September 11 - September 18)

Manhattan's Anthology Film Archives is devoting a week in September to showcasing Ed Wood's film work.

One of Rudy Grey's albums.
I have already written that it was a movie marathon in 1992 that really made me an Ed Wood fanatic. But that was relatively small potatoes: four films in one night on the campus of a small Midwestern junior college. The 10th Dimension: Edward D. Wood, Jr. is something much more grand.

Anthology Film Archives, a movie theater and center for international film study located on Manhattan's fabled 2nd Avenue, will be exhibiting Eddie's movies on the big screen for an entire week, beginning on September 11, 2014. And we're not just talking the famous movies either but also the really obscure, hard-to-see, out-of-print, not-in-general-circulation stuff. In short, there are some movies even I haven't seen, and I've spent a year of my life studying this man's career.

As expected, most of Eddie's feature films from 1953-1960 will be represented, both those he directed (Glen or Glenda?, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bride of the Monster, The Sinister Urge), plus a couple directed by others (Adrian Weiss' The Bride and the Beast, William Morgan's The Violent Years). Necromania is also included in the lineup, as are two of the movies from the Alpha Blue Archives series above: Nympho Cycler and The Young Marrieds. The first of the true mind-blowers is the appearance of Take It Out in Trade, Ed's softcore detective flick, which is currently available only as silent outtakes.

And the whole festival concludes with another mind-blower: a program called Rudolph Grey Presents: Short Films, Home Movies, and Other Miscellanea. Besides two rarely-seen and essential short films, Final Curtain and The Sun Was Setting, this "once-in-a-lifetime" show will include "home movies, advertisements, and other odds and ends." Yes, its host is the musician and author behind Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr., the book that served as the basis for Tim Burton's Ed Wood and is still the only Wood biography on the market.

According to the Anthology Film Archives website, Mr. Grey is working on "a revised and specifically expanded edition" of Nightmare of Ecstasy that "will soon be reissued." This is indeed welcome news. Dimitrios Otis is specifically thanked on the AFA website as well, and he informs me that he and his company "are presenting the 10th Dimension: Edward D. Wood, Jr. with Rudolph Grey." The complete schedule for the festival is as follows (all times Eastern):

  • Necromania/Nympho Cycler (September 14 at 6:15 PM)
  • The Young Marrieds (September 14 at 8:30 PM)
  • Rudolph Grey Presents: Short Films, Home Movies, and Other Miscellanea (September 17 at 7:30 PM)
One title that appeared and then mysteriously vanished from the listings is Misty, an "unfinished" film directed by Joe Robertson (of Love Feast fame) and featuring Ed Wood in drag as an actor. Whether this movie will resurface or whether it has been relegated to the "Miscellanea" program, I do not know. For whatever reason, it no longer appears on AFA's calendar for September 2014. Nevertheless, readers, I would very much like to attend this film festival, if only to see Take It Out in Trade as well as Rudolph Grey's show. But obviously, the entire lineup is of interest to me. Whether or not this will be possible, I don't know.
Next time for sure: Andre Perkowski's Ed Wood's The Vampire's Tomb. Good lord, that's a lot of possessives.