Saturday, May 11, 2019

Ed Wood's ANGORA FEVER: "Those Long Winter Nights" (1972)

Is that Jose Feliciano?

NOTE: This article continues my coverage of Angora Fever: The Collected Short Stories of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (BearManor Bare, 2019).
Full artwork for the story.

The story: "Those Long Winter Nights," originally published in Garter Girls, vol. 7, no. 1, November/December 1972. Credited to "Ann Gora."

Synopsis: Sheila, a nurse, has decided to spend her vacation at a ski resort in the mountains, despite the fact that she doesn't ski. Instead of hitting the slopes, Sheila spends her time at the bar, where she tries and fails to catch the attention of Babs, a pretty waitress. To Sheila's frustration, Babs is intent on hooking a handsome, wealthy guest of the resort named Mr. Henderson. In defiance of house rules, the waitress blatantly sits down at Henderson's table and makes a date with him. When Henderson and Babs meet up, however, the man is unable to perform sexually. Babs accuses him of being gay, and he strikes her roughly. Knowing that she can't let her bosses find out about this incident, the waitress takes refuge in Sheila's arms.

Wood trademarks: Character named Sheila (cf. "Blood Splatters Quickly," The Beach Bunnies); pink angora sweater (cf. "Try, Try Again"); nurse on vacation at ski lodge (cf. The Snow Bunnies); cocktail lounge (cf. The Cocktail Hostesses, setting of many stories in Angora Fever); cardigan (cf. "In the Stony Lonesome"); fluff (cf. "The Fright Wigs," "Out of the Fog"); pubic region (cf. "The Witches of Amau Ra," "The Responsibility Game"); Scotch (cf. "Try, Try Again"); character named Henderson (cf. The Sinister Urge, The Cocktail Hostesses); character named Babs (cf. Devil Girls, the TV commercial "Surprise"); sheer negligee (cf. Glen or Glenda); waitress hitting on rich customer (cf. The Snow Bunnies).

Excerpt: "Sheila had never been one to keep hands off of a fluff when she wanted her. But there was something about this girl which struck her different. Sheila wasn't sure if the girl would go that route. It was the first time in her history she wasn’t able to read another girl's emotions: able to tell if she was strictly for the boys, or for the girls, or if she would play the game either way."

Poster for The Snow Bunnies.
Reflections: Anyone who has seen The Snow Bunnies (1972), a softcore sexploitation film co-written by Ed Wood and directed by Stephen C. Apostolof, will almost immediately recognize the plot of "Those Long Winter Nights." There's a portion of the movie that is nearly identical to this short story. Only the character names have been changed. In The Snow Bunnies, the nurse is Joan, the waitress is Madie, and the customer is Paul Trent. Their counterparts in "Those Long Winter Nights" are called, respectively, Sheila, Babs, and Mr. Henderson.

Otherwise, very little has changed. In the film, when the male customer is unable to achieve an erection, the waitress complains: "What in the hell's the matter with you? I've been working on you for nearly an hour, and you're still not with it! Aw, I tried anything a woman can!" In the short story, the waitress says, "Why you cheap bastard, I've turned better men than you on in ten seconds. We’ve been at this thing for more than an hour and you’re as weak as a worm."

In both the film and the story, the waitress accuses the man of being a homosexual, then taunts him with a pair of panties. In the movie, Madie says, "Go ahead. Put 'em on. I'll call Richard the bellboy. He likes to make it with men! Is that what you need? Boys?" In the short story, Babs says, "That’s probably what you need. Put them on and I'll call Harry the bellboy. He loves to make it with men, especially if they’re wearing my clothes."

Once the waitress seeks care and comfort from the nurse, the similarities continue. In The Snow Bunnies, the dialogue between them goes like so:
Joan: You can put on one of my nightgowns if you feel like it later. 
Madie: No. Forget the nightie. I don't think I could stand anything against my skin right now. 
Joan: Well, what I had in mind was something soft. You would like something soft against your skin, wouldn't you? It wouldn't hurt. It would just enhance your senses. You do like soft things, don't you? 
Madie: I always liked soft things. 
Joan: Of course you do. 
And here's the corresponding passage from "Those Long Winter Nights":
"I'll give you one of my nighties, and take care of all your hurts." 
"I don't think I could stand a nightie. I don’t want anything against my skin. I couldn't stand it."  
"I had in mind something very soft… you do like soft things, don't you?"  
"Oh yes… yes… something very soft…."
As for which was written first, the movie or the story, I'm guessing it was the film script. The setting of The Snow Bunnies, a ski resort overrun by swinging singles, was inspired by Apostolof's own real-life penchant for ski vacations with his family. Since there's no evidence of Ed Wood indulging in winter sports, I doubt this location would have occurred to him if he hadn't been collaborating with Apostolof at the time.

The downside of this recycling is that the twist ending of "Those Long Winter Nights" is spoiled well in advance for anyone who has seen The Snow Bunnies. Just a few paragraphs into this tale, I knew exactly where it was headed. The upside is that, thanks to Stephen C. Apostolof, we essentially have a filmed adaptation of one of Eddie's short stories. And with an intriguing cast, too: Marsha Jordan as our nurse, Rene Bond as the flirty waitress, and Ric Lutze as the abusive customer.

Next: "Big ManLittle Man" (1971)