Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ed Wood's BLOOD SPLATTERS QUICKLY: 'Come Inn' (1971)

A strategically-placed candle offers this couple some privacy in Ed Wood's "Come Inn."

NOTE: This article is part of my ongoing coverage of Blood Splatters Quickly: The Collected Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

Ed Wood is back in Young Beavers. Ha!
The story: "Come Inn," originally published in Young Beavers magazine, November/December 1971, Pendulum Publishers, Inc.

Synopsis: Two young people, Danny and Shirley, pose as a married couple named the Carpenters and visit the decrepit, foreboding house occupied by the necromancer Madam Heles in the hopes that she can help them overcome their sexual problems. Danny, who has been suffering from erectile dysfunction, is skeptical of this "witch," but Shirley insists they need her services. They arrive at the house in the middle of afternoon and are greeted by Madam Heles' sexy but sinister servant Tanya, who tells them that the mistress of the house will see them at the stroke of midnight. 

In the meantime, after Danny and Shirley try unsuccessfully to make love, Shirley goes off to explore the house on her own and encounters fellow "inmate" Barb, with whom she experiments with lesbianism. Danny, meanwhile, tries to have sex with Tanya but again fails. At midnight, Danny and Shirley are taken to see Madam Heles, who emerges from a coffin. With Barb's recommendation, Shirley is allowed to graduate from the program and "may pass henceforth as an entity for the world of sex." Danny, however, still needs more training and is forced by two guards to join Madam Heles for a lovemaking session in her coffin. "I'm finally a man," he exclaims.

Wood trademarks:
  • a spooky, decaying house (cf. this collection's "Dracula Revisted," the old Willows place of Bride of the Monster)
  • the adjective "lovely" (one of Ed's favorites, used here to describe the story's heroine)
  • a character named Shirley (at this point, I shouldn't have to explain the significance of this name)
  • reference to Dracula and Bela Lugosi (ditto)
  • coffins
  • see-through nightgowns (Tanya wears "a short, sheer red, black-trimmed negligee")
  • midnight
  • dildos
  • the color pink (Shirley wears a pink nightgown)
  • squabbling heterosexual couple (cf. this collection's "Scream Your Bloody Head Off," "Private Girl," etc.)
  • reference to witches (cf. this collection's "In the Stony Lonesome")
  • anti-marijuana message (Danny says, "I don't take dope!")
  • lesbianism
  • thunder and lightning (cf. Plan 9 from Outer Space and virtually all of Ed's 1950s movies)
  • prostitution (Barb calls herself "the whore")
  • juxtaposition of sex and death (cf. "Stony Lonesome)
  • resurrection of the dead (possibly literal in the case of Madame Heles)
  • a woman frustrated by a man's impotence (cf. The Snow Bunnies)
  • man being grabbed by two male guards (cf. this collection's "Breast of the Chicken").

Excerpt: "The coffin lid slowly opened. Fright seized both Danny and Shirley. But the fright subsided. The woman might have been a beauty but it was impossible to tell through the extremely heavy make-up. She might have been alive and she might have been dead. But through the clear black shroud there was no doubt as to the tremendous, exotic body she possessed. She looked directly at the group and all felt as if lightning were flashing and thunder cracking as she spoke."

Reflections: A typically Wood-ian combination of the sexual revolution of the 1970s with the Gothic-inspired horror of the 1930s, "Come Inn" is an exceptionally exciting find in this collection, because it is the basis for Ed Wood's 1971 pornographic feature, Necromania, starring Rene Bond and Ric Lutze as Shirley and Danny. Or maybe this story was based on the completed film. This selfsame material may have also appeared as a 1972 novel called called The Only House as well. This all gets very convoluted. Maybe I'd better step aside and let Wood biographer Rudolph Grey explain it to you. Here's his listing for The Only House from the Bibliography section of Nightmare of Ecstasy:The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.:
(Little Library Press 2016, 1972, 159 pp.) 

     A married couple seek the help of a sorceress to solve their sexual problems. Through various surrogates, the wife's frigidity is cured though the husband's premature ejaculation is not so easily remedied until he climbs into a coffin with the sorceress and finally becomes a man who can please a woman.
     The Only House appears to be the plot of Wood's 1971 film Necromania. At the same time, Wood also made the film The Young Marrieds, which may also be known as The Only House. The novel was published in short story form as "Come Inn" in Young Beaver magazine, 1971.
Necromania on VHS.
Got all that? The phrases "appears to be" and "may also be" suggest that even Grey is a little confused. Okay, here's what I know for sure. I've never read The Only House, so I can't say what it's about or what it contains, but "Come Inn" most definitely follows the plot of Necromania, practically line for line and scene for scene. The characters, story points, and even dialogue are here verbatim. 

The only major differences between this short story and the feature-length movie are the additions of some supporting characters to the latter: pouty male customer Carl (who memorably begs Tanya for sex) and a room full of unnamed, constantly-fornicating inmates who never leave Madame Heles' house but who can be viewed through a special peephole. The so-called "wolf mummy" of the movie is also absent from the story. 

But the rest is all there, including odd little details like the dildo which is used as a pager. ("All you must do is ring this little dork.") As for Danny's sexual problem, both "Come Inn" and Necromania are sort of vague. I guessed it was erectile dysfunction because of Shirley's line from both the film and the story: "I'm going my way and you can go your own SOFT way." The story also adds: "He wanted her body badly, but where the spirit was willing the flesh was weak." If Danny has a premature ejaculation problem, it is not specified in the film or the short story. These are the kinds of issues you can explore at length over the course of 159 pages.

Perhaps only Ed Wood knows whether this material started off as a short story, a film script, or a novel. It seems to have reached the marketplace in all three forms, which is remarkable mileage for this relatively thin content. Once again, I am reminded of the credo of film critic Gene Siskel: "Write it once. Sell it five times." One thing I will say about "Come Inn" is that this story works much better on the page than the stage, so to speak. Ed had only $7000 and three days to make Necromania, and he was not really able to build up a convincingly spooky atmosphere in the film. Ric and Rene look like they're just creeping around some tacky apartment. But in the realm of fiction, Ed can let his imagination soar. In text, Ed finally gets to make the X-rated Universal horror film he always wanted.

Next: "The Day the Mummy Returned" (1971)