Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Magazine Odyssey, Part Four by Greg Dziawer

Eddie (barely) kept himself afloat, one story at a time.

In last week's edition of Ed Wood Wednesdays, we indexed all magazine issues/titlesfiled for copyright in 1972 by Pendulum/Calga. Moving backward in time, this week we're covering same for all of 1970 and 1971, albeit the periodical filings for 1970 and 1971 are merged and seemingly incomplete, and therefore partial. Ed was at his most prolific as a short story/article writer in 1971, tallying 68 short stories and 67 articles. Interesting that Edusex and Gallery Press do not seem to have been launched until 1972.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Magazine Odyssey, Part Three by Greg Dziawer

Let us journey once again into the swirling vortex of Ed Wood's magazine writing career.

Another fine Pendulum publication.
By 1972, Bernie Bloom's Pendulum Publishers, Inc. was humming along, producing magazines, paperbacks and films, packaging the first for boss Michael Thevis. Thevis diversified beyond solely magazine distribution in the late '60s, his Peachtree News Company of Atlanta merely the first in a long line of companies. He launched Pendulum as an adult paperback publisher in 1967 in Atlanta, then Bernie incorporated the name in LA in 1968. The name of Calga Publishers, Inc. derived from the then-current state postal abbreviations for California (CAL) and Georgia (GA). By 1972, Pendulum's small office on 5585 W Pico Blvd in Los Angeles churned out an average of three magazines per week under the Pendulum and Calga imprints. Both were legitimate business in their own right, operating from the same address. By 1972, Calga published titles under its own imprint, as well as under two DBAs (copyright-speak for "doing business as," in which a business can use a fictitious name so long as it's not trademarked): Gallery Press and Edusex. Pendulum, too, carried a DBA: SECS Press (also a concurrent paperback line: the Sex Education Clinical Series).

Ed Wood, the most prolific staff writer at the W Pico office, wrote as much as the other four or so staffers combined. His resume lists 51 short stories and 52 articles in 1972 (thanks to Bob Blackburn, co-heir of the Ed Wood estate, for this count). Although much work now attributed to him has been identified, it is our hope that this list furthers research ultimately leading to the discovery of more. Stories and articles were often written under pseudonyms, or even without credit, and the staff also wrote any and all supporting text: photo captions and narratives accompanying photo sets, and even editorials. The magazines often formed the basis for paperbacks, the staff quickly stitching them together to collect the $100 bonus per paperback offered by Bernie Bloom.

The following list contains ALL titles filed for copyright in 1972, 154 individual titles in all. A few were filed for copyright as books, though listed in the periodical copyright index owing to being serialized. Volume and Number were oft-times fluid, duplicating or even skipping a number. Some titles only had Volume numbers. The specific day of copyright likewise varied, sometimes coming after publication, sometimes before, and at the end and beginning of the year, copyright records for 1972 cover a handful of titles published in late 1971 or early 1973.

Friday, February 5, 2016

I have an idea for the next 'Child's Play' movie if anyone wants that.

The Chucktator.

I didn't really keep up with the Child's Play horror film franchise after the first couple of flicks. I haven't even gotten around to seeing 2004's Seed of Chucky, despite the fact that one of my personal heroes, John Waters, appears in it. I know that the murderous Chucky doll (voiced by Brad Dourif) acquired a female counterpart and some nasty, Frankenstein-like facial scars along the way. I'm still not wild about those scars, since I think they undermine the whole point of the character, which is that he looks like a creepy but harmless My Buddy doll from the 1980s. Anyhow, despite my almost-total ignorance of the property, I nevertheless would love the chance to write the next Child's Play sequel, if there is one. I have an idea ready to go. Be forewarned: This gets a tad convoluted.

Accurate but not respectable.
For whatever reason, I've been obsessed lately with the saga of General Idi Amin Dada (ca. 1923-2003), the military strongman who seized control of Uganda in the 1970s and terrorized and bankrupted the country for years as its dictator, killing off his enemies, real and perceived, by the thousands. YouTube, naturally, has countless hours of footage related to Amin: documentaries, news reports, interviews, etc. There, one can also find Amin: The Rise and Fall (or The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin), a sensational 1981 exploitation film featuring Kenyan actor Joseph Olita as the boastful African strongman. What's really surprising about The Rise and Fall is that, apart from the inclusion of some tasteless urban legends -- like the depiction of Amin as a cannibal -- the script largely sticks to the historical record and depicts Amin as he really was. Some especially horrific details -- like keeping the severed heads of his foes in his kitchen freezer -- are drawn from real life. So what makes this movie "exploitation" rather than an Oscar-winning, critically-praised "drama," like 2006's The Last King of Scotland, which also deals with the reign of Idi Amin? It's all a matter of tone, I guess. The Rise and Fall treats Amin's reign as a horror story, an approach that extends to the music, the camera angles, the acting, and the editing. It's all done for maximum shock effect. That makes critics uncomfortable.

While re-watching Amin: The Rise and Fall, I got to thinking that General Idi Amin, as a potential horror star, is a lot more effective than most of the major icons of the slasher genre, who tend to kill their victims one at a time. In terms of his overall body count, Amin leaves Freddy, Jason, and the rest in the dust. And he operates boldly in broad daylight, rather than skulking around in the shadows. Another advantage is that he doesn't have to do all the killing personally. He has soldiers and guards to do a lot of the dirty work for him. So then I started imagining a franchise film in which a famous horror character becomes the brutal dictator of a small country. Long-running horror franchises often tend to become gimmicky as the years go by, and this seemed no more extreme than, say, putting Jason Voorhees into outer space. But Jason's no good for this kind of picture. He doesn't talk, and he seems to derive no real pleasure from his killing. Ditto Michael Myers and Leatherface. It's difficult to imagine Freddy Krueger holding down a government job for long. Ditto Hannibal Lecter. So who's left?

Chucky, that's who. He's perfect. He seems like the kind of guy who'd get a kick out of bossing around a whole country. I pictured the little doll getting sick of causing mayhem in his home country and moving to some fictional country in Central America or South America, where he becomes known as "El Juguete," an incredibly corrupt, violent, and sadistic martinet. He'd have everything: an army of henchmen, a harem of love slaves, and a torture dungeon. And the image of little Chucky, still doll-sized, in a military uniform dripping with medals is surreal and funny and terrifying to me. I'd call it Reign of Chucky: Puppet Regime and advertise it with this tagline: "Running a country? It's child's play." As for the content of the movie, just watch this trailer for the Idi Amin flick and imagine that it's Chucky doing all of this awful stuff. Doesn't that sound kind of awesome?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The ultimate Tim Burton movie...

Look, either you get this pun or you don't.

No compromises. 

Did you know that, in addition to writing, directing, producing, and occasionally acting in motion pictures for 30 years, Ed Wood also edited at least four of his own films, including Plan 9 from Outer Space? As the picture above reveals, Eddie was a born cutter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Collaborator Odyssey, Part One by Greg Dziawer

Malta as a harem girl in 1971's The Exotic Dreams of Casanova.

When you think of Ed Wood's collaborators, it's easy to remember Tor Johnson, Bela Lugosi or even Paul Marco. All three of those actors appeared in three films apiece by Ed. But as Joe noted in a previous installment of Ed Wood Wednesdays, actress Rene Bond worked on Ed Wood-related projects more frequently than any of them (six titles in all). There are plenty of others who worked with Ed numerous times, and in the "Collaborator" series, we'll delve into highlights of the careers of some who may not readily come to mind.

Neola Graef (or, occasionally, Graf) appeared in two films Ed worked on: Love Feast and The Only House in Town. See here for some details on loops extracted from the latter feature that starred Neola. A striking, buxom blonde, Graef is now best know for appearing in softcore sex films under the name Malta. She did, however, appear in hardcore films without actually participating in real, on-screen sex, and was billed under numerous names during her less-than-a-decade-long film career: Joyce Adams, Bolivia Tiernan and Olivia Tiernan. She is now credited on close to 40 films, but worked on five times more -- lost, undocumented, perhaps even extant films in which she has yet to be identified. And within the orbit of early '70s West Coast sex films, she frequently appeared alongside other Wood collaborators. Let's take a closer look!

Uschi Digard gets a rubdown from Malta in
1970's The Last Step Down.
Despite her friendship with European emigre Uschi Digard, with whom she featured in many films, including 1970's The Dirty Pool and of course Ed's The Only House in Town, and the noms de porn Malta and Bolivia (just the sort of thing that leads historians to make incorrect inferences), Malta was born in Long Island. Her IMDb page is worth quoting, one of the only pages where you'll find a bio with personal details:
A blonde with voluptuous figure, at 5' 2" and blue eyes, Neola married early, and started a modeling career for $55 per hour - better than to be a sales girl at $50 per week. After two years of college education (classes of Drama and Arts), she started a career as soft-porn actress in about 200 16mm films and 35mm features, several of which were with her very close friend Uschi Digard. After establishing her name in the field, her pay went to $75 a day (average) when shooting a film. The number of feature films in which she is credited is small, possibly because she refused to do hard-core. She joined SAG and later had small roles in mainstream features and had a successful stage career as an actress, where she also directed several plays.
Pornography in Hollywood
Looking through her filmography, you can pick just about any title at random and find her working about one degree away from other Wood collaborators, if not directly with them. In 1972's documentary Pornography in Hollywood (the first film as director by Carlos Tobalina, who would migrate to hardcore as the 1970s wore on), she plays herself, as does Uschi. And so does Eric Jeffrey Haims, who directed Rene Bond in 1971's The Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio (and Carlos Tobalina just happened to be that film's Second Unit Director). Malta also appears in director Robert Caramico's 1970 Sex Ritual of the Occult. If Caramico's name rings a bell, he just happened to be the director of photography on Orgy of the Dead. Her R-rated swansong – with Uschi, and produced by Ed DePriest (director of the Ed-scripted One Million AC/DC) – was 1977's Female Fever.

For the abiding Woodologists out there, no doubt her most fascinating work issued from a shoot that featured a clutch of Ed collaborators, and was used as basis for book, magazine and even film. The film was an 8mm short, Blast Off! (circa 1970, and not extant as far as I can tell). Tom Brinkmann mentioned this on his superb Bad Mags site, where he also posted a scan of the cover of Golden State News' (where Ed and Bernie Bloom worked prior to Pendulum) 1970 magazine Orgy. The unidentified brunette on the left and the man in the center both appear in Blast Off!, and both also worked with Ed (on Take It Out in Trade  and The Only House in Town). On the cover of the magazine of Blast Off!, we see Malta's backside in the background, behind the green-skinned alien kissing a happy and healthy-looking young John Homes. (The alien is misidentified as Malta here.) Holmes,of course, worked with Ed on numerous Swedish Erotica shorts.

(left) A poster for Female Fever; (right) A cover of Blast off! magazine.

And then there's the adult illustrated paperback version, Arthur Faber's Outerspace Sex Orgy (published by the obscure Barnaby Press). This one, fortunately, gives us the main characters and plot basics, and the photos here and in the magazine (now available at this project's Tumblr site) suggest what a find the 8mm film will be (assuming that it turns up):
  • John Holmes is Simon Stuart, "the handsome, brilliant scientist whose first invention brought him fame and the biggest erection in the world!"
  • The unidentified male performer is Plizzle, "the King of Salacia whose rule was marred by sexual starvation and would do anything to get some virile men for his women!"
  • The unidentified female performer is the alien Fallomell, “Salacia's rainbowed beauty of a Queen who after ten years of sexual abstinence awaited the Earthmen with a fervor to be rivalled by none.”
  • And of course we can't forgot, there's Malta, as Penny Floss, "the virginal semanticist who signed up for the first sex orgy in outer space."