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.