Orgy of the Dead (1965)

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Let’s talk about Edward D. Wood Jr. for a second.  He should not be put on a pedestal as the “worst director of all time.”  The people who say that have not seen what I’ve seen.  They have not traversed the beautifully horrendous filmographies of H.G. Lewis, Andy Milligan, Al Adamson, Ted V. Mikels, or Barry Mahon.  There is so much hilariously inept, completely inane garbage available in the world of exploitation, Eurotrash, nudie-cuties, and drive-in sci fi and horror, that to bestow Ed Wood with that honor fails to recognize others for their brilliant lack of talent.

And so we have Orgy of the Dead, which was not directed by Wood, but adapted by him from his novel of the same name.  I had no idea that he was such a prolific writer, and I was rather surprised that he wrote a book called Suburbia Confidential.  I’ve seen the mid-60s stag film called Suburbia Confidential, and the directing credit is given to Stephen C. Apostolof, who also directed Orgy of the Dead and often collaborated with Wood.  However I haven’t been able to figure out if Suburbia Confidential was based on Wood’s book.  Wood’s book is said to have come out in 1967, the year after the movie so I don’t know.

Either way, Orgy of the Dead is a decent enough nudie flick, except that it’s too damn long.  These things should never be longer than 70 minutes, and Orgy of the Dead has a running time of 91 minutes.  The plot is about a husband and wife, who crash their car by a mountain, wake up next to a cemetery, wander in, and observe an after dark ceremony of sorts.

In other words, what they – and we – observe is striptease after striptease after striptease after striptease, while the Emperor (Criswell) and his Vampira wannabe, the Black Goul (Fawn Silver), chew the scenery.  To add to the stupidity, the Mummy, who talks for some reason, and the Wolf Man are the Emperor’s henchmen.  Eventually, the sun comes up and everyone dies, and the man and wife try to tell their story to cops, and they laugh, saying things like “woa, musta had a pretty bad crash” or “hit your head” or something to that effect.

But, is it worth watching?  The women all look fantastic, apparently all pulled from local strip clubs; so they are busty, curvy, and toned.  Set to a soundtrack of old timey, Cabaret music, the girls each do a unique dance – Hawaiian Dance, Skeleton Dance, Streetwalker Dance, Slave Dance, Cat Dance, Fluff Dance, Mexican Dance and Zombie Dance – and, with the exception of the zombie, are all relatively graceful. The Zombie Dance, in spite being naked, evokes no eroticism due to her zombie moves.  And there is one scene where the Mummy and the Wolfman dip a woman into molten gold, which only further accentuates her gorgeous curves.

Other than that, the fake looking graveyard is cool as well.  We were debating if Orgy of the Dead was filmed in an actual graveyard or if a replica was built on a cheap set.  I say the latter only because the ground is completely flat.  But, since unlike in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the actors had enough grace to not bump into the grave stones, they were believable set pieces. But I suppose that is completely irrelevant for this type of movie anyway.

The Cycle Savages (1969)

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The Cycle Savages is the first biker film I’ve watched which starkly portrays the the gang bang initiation that these biker gangs did back then.  And it’s pretty disturbing!

Bill Brame’s film, in no way, attempts to portray the gang of “Hell’s Chosen Few” as misunderstood by society.  They’re just assholes and creeps and involved with a pimp played by Casey Kasem, who is in the movie all of one minute.  The gang is lead by Keeg who is played by Bruce Dern and is, in no way, sympathetic.  Their dirty, humble abode is decorated with spray painted lingo including “Danger”!  The movie is entertaining even if the plot is a complete mess.  Initially the movie is about an artist named Romco (Chris Robinson) – an immigrant from West Germany – who is caught painting a violent incident at a local restaurant.  Keeg and his crew discover the artist’s drawings and then decide to “shut him up” by breaking his hands.

In the meantime Romco holes up with local cutie Lea (Melody Patterson) who plays the good whore.  She’s involved but doesn’t wanna be and, when Romco paints her nude, she gets all hot under the collar and they start developing a romance.  Then, to keep it interesting, the movie never makes the viewer sure if she is in fact on his side or not.

There are some neat little bits here and there.  For instance, writer/director Bill Bramer doesn’t skimp on showing the ugly side of the involvement of women in the movie. One is a particularly out of control brunette – dressed to the nines in trashy biker attire; red tank top, tight black denim, engineer boots, va voooom! – who keeps pawing all over Keeg, who in turn shows his appreciation by telling her how stupid and useless she is.  Other interesting asides include a fight in a local park with someone who is accused of stealing the bike from one of the gang members.  Though I have a feeling it was inserted in the movie to pad for time and to have an extra, useless fighting sequence.

Speaking of fighting, one thing that I enjoyed was that Romco wasn’t a sissy.  He is an artist but he could hold his own.  They also need to check the wood railing in their little trashy, biker abode.

The movie came out in 1969 – after the rating system was in place – so, I don’t know why they didn’t show the nudity or why certain words like “rape” and “acid” are obscured in biker lingo.  Otherwise it’s a fun little, trashy romp full bikers and bitchy broads.  Also, there were iron crosses but no swastikas.

The movie also has a soundtrack attached to it.  The catchy fuzzed out theme that plays throughout was performed by the Cycle-Mates, who play two other songs.  The rest of the soundtrack is divided up between two other bands – Orphan Egg and The Boston Tea Party, both of which are late 60s, lighter weight psychedelic pop-rock groups and each have one album to their name.