Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Ed Wood Wednesdays, The Wood Loop Orbit, Part 14 by Greg Dziawer

'Tis the season... for smut!

"Come and trim my Christmas tree with some decorations bought at Tiffany." 
-"Santa Baby" (1953) by Eartha Kitt

Christmas is for grownups, too, and some of the season's most enduring naughty narratives involve Jolly Old St. Nick. Case in point: this week's Ed Wood-connected porno loop, a silent 8mm home market film called "Santa's Darling Helpers." The title is a coy variation on the common term "Santa's little helpers," normally referring to Kris Kringle's toy-building elves. Here, though, it refers to some sexy and open-minded ladies who spend Christmas Eve with Santa Claus.

The film survives via the Blue Vanities tape series, an amazing archive consisting of over 600 volumes of vintage loops from the 1970s, many of them produced on the West Coast by the Bloom family. Since the Blooms were Ed Wood's most reliable employers in those days, that means Ed himself was involved in many of these short films.

Presented in washed-out color, "Santa's Darling Helpers" is the first loop on Blue Vanities #257. The title appears over the standard animated opening graphics for Moon Films, including phallic buildings, breast-like constellations, and a leering, winking moon. On its own back cover index, interestingly, Blue Vanities attributes this short to O.Z. Films, a mid-1970s loop series I strongly suspect is connected to the Bloom family. I further hypothesize that "Santa's Darling Helpers" was originally issued under the Moon Films banner but then reissued as an entry in the O.Z. series.

The logos for two porn loop series: O.Z. Films and Moon Films.

Clocking in at about 10 minutes, the film itself is technically similar to Ed Wood's fabled "jailer" loop, aka "Prisoners Lovemaking." Like that classic, "Santa's Darling Helpers" features single-camera setups, long takes, medium shots, sporadic medium closeups, cutaways, and the obligatory graphic sexual closeups.

Our story begins in medias res, with a medium shot depicting the same faux-brick wall backdrop from "Prisoners Lovemaking." A fuzzy pink stole hangs across the mantle, topped by what is clearly a cheap cardboard chimney. A single Chinese Guardian Lion sits on the floor next to the hearth. We'll see the lion's counterpart on the other side of the fireplace later in the film.

Santa "nose" best.
A skinny actor in a Santa Claus suit rises somewhat unsteadily to his feet. Presumably, he has just dropped down the fireplace and has to regain his composure. Miraculously, he pulls two full-size human beings from his bag -- hippie chicks in sheer pink nighties! He then waves goodbye to the ladies, turns away, and casually walks off the screen. Are these girls meant to be someone's present? One of the hippies is openly brunette, while the other hides her brown locks under a blonde wig. The former now begins to doff her nightie and, in doing so, recaptures Santa's attention.

The inevitable threesome ensues, with the famed North Pole toymaker keeping his hat and beard on the entire time. Santa finishes and begins to get dressed. In a prolonged shot, he thumbs his nose, seemingly at the fireplace. This playful moment brings to mind Clement Clark Moore's classic 1823 poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas": "And laying his finger aside of his nose and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose."

It's worth noting the film's jaunty, upbeat tone. The performers laugh openly and often throughout, clearly having a good time. The aforementioned nose-thumbing has a similar comedic effect as Ed Wood's silent antics in "Prisoners Lovemaking." Eddie closed that film by scrunching up his face and jerking off a dildo with great enthusiastic exaggeration.

Lacking subtitles, "Santa's Darling Helpers" is a product of Noel Bloom's company Cinema Classics, Inc. circa 1971, as was "Prisoners Lovemaking." Soon after these films were made, Eddie would be penning subtitles for such Bloom-produced loop series as Pussycat Films and Danish International Films. And these series would lead to the biggest loop franchise of them all, the storied Swedish Erotica films.

Noel Bloom began producing loops as early as 1968, with his inaugural series released under the Cinema Classics banner. This hearty (if under-documented) franchise ultimately amassed 100 titles. Bloom's original loops were of the softcore variety, but Cinema Classics had transitioned to hardcore by 1970. Other franchises, including Dirty Movies and Moon Films, carried the torch from there. These later series were united by various artistic tropes as well as animated opening and closing logos. As mentioned before, "Santa's Darling Helpers" was an entry in the Moon Films series.

My considered opinion is that, whether or not you'd call him the "director," Ed Wood was the guiding creative force behind both "Prisoners Lovemaking" and "Santa's Darling Helpers." I believe he was present on set, aided by a small crew of no more than one or two people. A likely crew member was cinematographer Ted Gorley. These loops were shot right around the same time and at the same place, too, specifically Hal Guthu's studio on Santa Monica Blvd. That seminal location played host to a handful of adult features and hundreds of 8mm silent loops in the early 1970s.

In "Prisoners Lovemaking," Eddie actually makes an on-screen appearance, so his participation in that film is beyond doubt. "Santa's Darling Helpers" offers no such guarantees. While we may never know this film's heritage for sure, please accept this joyful Yuletide loop as our gift to you this holiday season!
NOTE: "Santa's Darling Helpers" may be viewed here.