Monday, April 29, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "Exotic Loves of the Vampire" (1972)

Is that Dracula or Batman?

NOTE: This article continues my coverage of Angora Fever: The Collected Short Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (BearManor Bare, 2019).
Lucy and Mina in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

The story: "Exotic Loves of the Vampire" (aka "The Exotic Loves of Dracula"), originally published in Ecstasy, vol. 4, no. 2, July/August 1972. Credited to "Ann Gora."

Synopsis: A young woman named Mina writes to her lover Jonathan, who is away on a long trip to Transylvania. She misses him dreadfully and is starting to hear strange, frightening noises in the spooky mansion where she lives. One stormy night, she sees her best friend Lucy talking to a mysterious man with a long black cape. He disappears, seemingly replaced by a human-like bat with blood-drenched fangs, and Lucy tells Mina it was only a bat that had killed a cow. Mina confesses to Jonathan that she and Lucy have entered into an intense sexual relationship, even though Mina still loves Jonathan. She says she noticed that Lucy has strange bite marks on her neck and that she thinks she spotted the man in the black cape outside her window.

Wood trademarks: Dracula (cf. "Dracula Revisited," Necromania); thunder and lightning (cf. Plan 9 from Outer Space, Glen or Glenda); groin (cf. "The Movie Queen"); "go out of my mind" (cf. Glen or Glenda); nightgown (cf. "The Movie Queen"); the color pink (cf. "2 X Double"); satin (cf. "Blood Drains Easily," "The Last Void"); "pubic region" (cf. "The Responsibility Game," "Gore in the Alley").

Excerpt: "Without a doubt the body was that of a black, gigantic bat with a tremendous wing span. The wings stretched further than both sides of the window and the upright part of the body went from the top to far below the bottom frame. And the face was chalk white… almost human… but again that must have been my imagination… the horror of the situation. But I could not have imagined the blood-red lips and the teeth which were still dripping blood."

Reflections: Back in January 2016, Greg Dziawer debunked the longstanding rumor that Ed Wood had ghostwritten the 1970 Calga Press novel The Adult Version of Dracula, insisting that Hal Kantor was the true author of that volume. Because of that article, I've never really even bothered with the Calga book. I'll leave it to someone else to review Hal Kantor's work. I've got more genuine Wood books and stories ahead of me than I'll ever be able to read.

But that doesn't change the fact that Bram Stoker's 1897 novel and its famous 1931 film adaptation with Bela Lugosi were crucial influences on Eddie's career. Lugosi's characters in Bride of the Monster (1955), Glen or Glenda (1953), and Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) are all Dracula-esque to one degree or another. As late as Necromania (1970), Ed's characters were making direct references to Count Dracula. And then there's this story, which may be Ed's boldest use of Bram Stoker's source material. Several characters from the novel—Mina, Lucy, and Jonathan—turn up here, even though Drac himself is never mentioned by name. "Exotic Loves of the Vampire" is pretty much what I imagined The Adult Version of Dracula to be, i.e. the Dracula story spiced up with explicit sex scenes.

It's interesting how Eddie diverts from his usual style and writes this story in the first person, formatting it as a letter that a confused, heartsick Mina is penning to Jonathan. That idea must have come to Ed midway through the creative process, though, since at the beginning of the story, Mina is talking about Jonathan in the third person. (My first guess was that this was a diary entry.) Midway through, she starts addressing Jonathan directly, as if this were a letter. Sure, most writers would have gone back and fixed the earlier paragraphs to make the story consistent, but that really wasn't Ed Wood's way of doing things.

Next: "Howl of the Werewolf" (1973)