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The 100




Orgy of the Dead
(1965)
Reviewed by Scott Marshall
Rating: 8 Beans

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y. I actually got excited when I saw this for sale yesterday and slapped down $10 for one of the few Ed Wood movies I don't own. True, Ed didn't direct ORGY- although it is inept enough that you would think he did- he only wrote the screenplay.


It certainly has all the makings of an Ed Wood production, from nepotistic casting (Criswell as the star? CRISWELL?) to a leading lady who takes herself way too seriously and actually seems to believe that she is going to be launched into stardom. Not to mention well over an hour of mind-numbing non-action- which is sort of remarkable considering that all of that time is consumed with topless dancing. How do you make a skin flick boring? Get Ed Wood to write it.


Let me back up a bit for those who are familiar only with the Johnny Depp take on Ed. Don't get me wrong, I liked the Tim Burton movie a lot, but it ends at the peak of Ed's sad little life. After the release of PLAN 9, Ed's fortunes fell with NIGHT OF THE GHOULS and THE SINISTER URGE. He wound up writing a lot of pulp porn novels and became increasingly involved in that part of the film business.


So by the mid-60s, Ed was drinking a lot and writing stuff like ORGY OF THE DEAD, which is a softcore porn film; he directed one called TAKE IT OUT IN TRADE a few years later and graduated to hardcore movies with NECROMANIA- the difference being that full frontal nudity and intercourse are shown on screen. Later in the 70s he died from alcoholism and his body was carried out of his apartment in a garbage bag.


ORGY OF THE DEAD is, in a way, the beginning of the end for Ed: a sad little skin flick with a few of his trademark flourishes, but unlike his earlier work it is not much fun to watch. It begins with a young couple- Bob and Shirley- driving to a graveyard in the middle of the night. Apparently Bob is a writer who likes to write horror stories and gets inspired in creepy places, much to Shirley's annoyance. They get in a car accident and make their way to the graveyard where Criswell and his assistant Ghoulita (a tag team carried over from NIGHT OF THE GHOULS, I think) are presiding over some sort of judgement ceremony. This consists of "dead" women emerging from a tomb, dancing topless for 5 or 10 minutes, and getting their just reward from Cris at the end. Each of the dancers has a story.. one of them who cared only for gold is turned into gold, for example.


Anyway. A couple of Cris' henchmen- the Mummy and the Wolfman, or two guys dressed up in the Universal Monsters halloween costumes of the same- capture Bob and Shirley and tie them to posts so they can watch the proceedings and be disposed of at the end. Ghoulita has the hots for Shirley. So does everyone else; it is promised that she will be the last dancer and pass into the afterlife with the rest of them.


A parade of topless dancers follows, the most interesting being Texas Starr in a cat costume. I can picture the research and casting couch action on this movie and it makes me feel dirty. During a dance involving a snake, the Mummy strikes up a very unfunny conversation with the Wolfman about Cleopatra and how she was killed by a snake bite.


Anyway, after many tedious dancers it becomes time to wrap things up because the sun is rising and these judgements can only happen under the light of a full moon. Ghoulita grabs a big knife, tears open Shirley's shirt, and prepares to stab- but the sun rises and all the ghouls are turned to skeletons. Ta da. The police arrive with an ambulance after discovering the car wreck and everyone wonders what the hell happened. Tack on some of Ed's usual hypocritical moralizing and you're done.


How is it that Ed still manages to rip people off 20 years after his death? The least they could have done was show the buxom Ghoulita topless. I was going to end this review with a wish for a judgement ceremony which would feature Ed and other bad directors, but Ed would just appear in a dress and start stripping.


Other reviews for this movie:

Ken M. Wilson




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