Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ed Wood extra! A single by Paul Marco and Criswell!

In 1995, Dionysus Records released an unusual Ed Wood-themed single by Paul Marco and Criswell.

There passed a golden time in the early-to-mid-1990s when Edward D. Wood, Jr. was considered vaguely chic by people whose opinions actually matter. Eddie's first wave of anti-fame occurred in the early 1980s after the publication of The Golden Turkey Awards, of course, but his filmography did not take on the added luster of hipness for another decade. 

The Nihilistic Nineties were a time in which the trend-setters and tastemakers of America shunned the shopping mall monoculture of the Reagan era in favor of individuality, eccentricity, exclusivity, and (perceived) authenticity. Suddenly, it was no longer cool to be "into" what everybody else was "into." Instead, this was the time of indie movies, indie record labels, and indie bookstores -- smaller concerns catering to niche interests. I'm fairly certain this was when the word "mainstream" first took on a pejorative connotation. 

The atmospheric conditions were just right for someone like Ed Wood to become a secular saint of unpop culture. I don't think it's any coincidence that some of the bigger postmortem developments of Eddie's career, including the publication of Rudolph Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy and the release of Tim Burton's Ed Wood, not to mention a whole host of VHS re-releases, occurred during this fecund era.

"Uncle Dale" Warner
And only during those kooky Clinton years would it have made sense for a label like Dionysus Records to put out an Ed Wood-themed 45 RPM single... on marbled orange vinyl, no less! In 1995, this SoCal surf rock company released "Home on the Strange" b/w "Someone Walked Over My Grave." The A-side was a newly-recorded "Monster Mash"-type novelty tune by actor Paul Marco, reprising his Kelton the Cop character from Bride of the Monster, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and Night of the Ghouls. Aiding and abetting Paul was "Uncle" Dale Warner, a songwriter and musician best known for his work with the Rubatos

On the flip side was the vintage recording "Someone Walked Over My Grave," a morbid yet characteristically flowery recitation by the flamboyant TV psychic Criswell set to a cocktail lounge-type piano accompaniment. Supposedly, the famed prognosticator recorded this song specifically to be played after his death. Take these two ditties, add some eye-catching artwork by Kalynn Campbell, and you've got a neat little collectible for Ed Wood fans. 

Incidentally, according to the comprehensive timeline in Nightmare of Ecstasy, Eddie attempted something like this back in 1970, when he himself produced a 45 with Tor Johnson reading "The Day the Mummy Returned" on the A-side and Criswell reading "Final Curtain" on the B-side. Author Rudolph Grey states that it is "uncertain" whether or not the single was ever released. However, the Dionysus single from 1995 definitely was released and gives us a taste of what that 1970 platter might have been like. Enjoy.