Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Promo Odyssey, Part Six by Greg Dziawer

Ed Wood's 1971 film Necromania saw a lot of bookings in Hawaii.

Of the sex films helmed by Ed Wood in the last dire decade of his life, it is perhaps 1971's Necromania that is best-remembered. That wasn't always so. In fact, it was not until 1987 when the film was first attributed to Ed. A partial version of the film finally re-emerged on home video in 1994 from Something Weird. Though the movie itself was incomplete, that tape featured an introduction from Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter, who discussed the film with Wood biographer Rudolph Grey. A DVD containing the complete hardcore and softcore versions was released by Fleshbot Films a decade later.

But Necromania had a surprisingly long life in theaters, too. Newspaper ads for theatrical showings of the film indicate it was still making the rounds as late as 1982. In the previous decade, in both hardcore and softcore variants, Necromania regularly played in fleapits across the country, then no doubt just another bit of anonymous sex to satisfy the punters. And at least through Ed's passing in December 1978, he never saw a dime of the profits.

This week, we're sharing a clutch of advertisements promoting theatrical showings of Necromania in Honolulu. Yes, while Necromania played in all of the places you might expect—from Hollywood to Cleveland to Rochester—it cropped up in Honolulu at multiple theaters in late October of both 1972 and 1974, just in time for Halloween. There, it was screened at venues alongside Hong Kong kung-fu flicks and Japanese sword epics. 

(left) Honolulu Advertiser, October 25, 1972; (right) Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 27, 1972.

As a lifelong fan of Godzilla, it was especially delightful for me to see Godzilla vs the Smog Monster playing on the same screen on a Saturday afternoon as that which screened Necromania the same night. Let's presume, given these venues, that Honolulu was the site of screenings of the softcore edit of the film, and that there were possibly two prints in circulation in Honolulu. Note that it played during the same week in October of 1972 at both the Busy "B" and Waipahu theaters. 

Ads from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin: (left) May 2, 1972; (top right) October 24, 1974; (bottom right) October 23, 1972.
For the curious, this is what 1112 Maunakea St. in Honolulu looks like today. It no longer appears to be a movie theater. Perhaps the Busy "B" was done in by its needlessly complicated coupon policy.

1112 Manaukea St. as it appears in Google Earth.

In future installments, the full story of Necromania's theatrical life will be told.