O: Orgy of the Dead (1965)


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Orgy_of_dead_poster_01In any of these movie marathons, too much of a good thing can get poisonous. Eventually you just have to watch something you know is terrible, just so you can have a larf and reflect how good you have it at other times.

No one had let Ed Wood Jr. near a director’s chair since The Sinister Urge in 1960. I still haven’t seen that, I now realize, but I have seen Night of the Ghouls, which languished at the lab for years because Eddie couldn’t afford the fees, and the sad truth is, the man had learned enough by that time that Night has few of the lunatic  newbie mistakes that riddle his earlier pics, so much so that Wood had, at that time, progressed from manic risibility to mere mediocrity. Surely there is a German word that describes the sadness that causes me.

Night of the Ghouls does have some of the flavorful Ed Wood dialogue, though, and since Orgy of the Dead is an Ed Wood script from an Ed Wood novel, it proudly possesses some, as well.  Producer Stephen Apostolof, making his directorial debut, was a little too smart to let Eddie near the big chair, but he did employ him as a production assistant. Too bad those smarts didn’t extend to the casting, because there are few things worse than bad actors trying to do Ed Wood dialogue. Then, God bless ’em, that is why I am here.

PDVD_354Orgy of the Dead is a nudie-cutie, a subgenre more or less created by Russ Meyer. Most of them are simply loose frameworks to connect burlesque striptease numbers (see also Kiss Me Quick, one of the more watchable examples of the breed, if only for its oddness). This means I am going to have problems finding photos to illustrate this review that do not violate WordPress community standards. (I can still talk about body parts, because nobody reads anymore)

Your norms (and chief bad actors) here are Bob and Shirley (William Bates and Pat Barrington). Bob is a successful horror writer who is looking for an old abandoned graveyard at midnight for inspiration, and dragged his girlfriend along just because. One car wreck later (the squealing brake sounds start a couple of cuts before the actual incident) they regain consciousness and find themselves unwilling spectators to the court of the Emperor of the Night (Criswell), who is judging the dead, or at least the dead who are female and have a propensity for losing their clothing. While dancing.

1032759261_919ff689a4 copyThere are roughly ten dances on the card tonight, with the slightest of story elements to justify them. The sudden lack of clothing never is explained, but I guess we can credit Apostolof for using the near endless cutaways to Criswell and his attendant (Fawn Silver, as either the Black Ghoul, Princess of the Night, or Ghoulita, depending on whether you believe the IMDb, the script, or the video box) to excise the strip part of the striptease, and just go to the near-nudity.

There is an Indian dance, then a quote-unquote “Skeleton Dance”, during which our, ahem, heroes, from their hiding place, say things like “I can’t imagine anything dead is playing that music” and “Nothing alive looks like that,” because Bob is an idiot.

After a Goldfinger-inspired dance where a woman who “loved gold above all else” gets dipped in gold (her picture is under the credits and much of the publicity material), Bob and Shirley get captured by the Emperor’s goons, a not half-bad werewolf and a really terrible mummy. (And yes, the boredom has set in to such a point that I did not realize that Shirley was also the dancer for the Gold Girl number).

OrgyoftheDeadTied to two conveniently-placed obelisks (while Shirley yells, “Fiends! Fiends!”), Bob and Shirley are forced to watch the rest of the evening’s festivities, and I know how they feel.

First Ghoulita informs us “To love the cat is to be the cat.” Now, I have loved and lived with several cat lovers, and the uniform never included assless leopard-print pajamas with a boob window. I feel so deprived. And we are going to ignore Criswell’s “A pussycat is born to be whipped.”

bob and shirleyI shudder to inform you that we are now only four dances into our set. There is a “slave dance” (featuring my favorite Criswell line, “Torture! Torture! It pleasures me!”) which is followed by Bob telling Shirley, who is just standing there, “Panic won’t do us any good!” Then we have a Mexican dance, then a Hawaiian dance (which honestly seems to last an hour), then a comedy sketch with the mummy and wolfman which is every bit as painful as you think it is, and then there is a bride “who murdered her groom on her wedding day, and now she dances with his skeleton.” (“We rented this skeleton prop for the day, and dammit, we’re going to use it!”) Or at least she does until the go-go music starts, and then she starts gyrating her upper torso so her breasts flail about in all directions. This was the same act as the blonde Sex Bomb in Kiss Me Quick, and just looks uncomfortable, if not downright painful. Still, I suppose this is a fetish for someone out there…

Scream, Gingerla, Scream!

Scream, Gingerla, Scream!

Shirley gets to show us she has the worst movie scream ever, and we still have to get through the zombie dance and the streetwalker dance and…

No, I’m not going to tell you how it ends. Suffer as I did.

Orgy is competently shot, if not acted. Some of the ladies have pretty good dance moves, some do not. They’re all attractive, but seem to fall within the same body type. Your main enemy while watching Orgy of the Dead is going to be boredom, pure and simple, unless you are vitally interested in burlesque and third-rate Martin Denny imitations. This has to be the fifth or sixth time I have watched it, and unfortunately, Orgy of the Dead does not improve with age – but my facility with the fast forward button certainly did.

Oh, the hell with community standards, have a NSFW trailer:

Orgy of the Dead on Amazon