A couple stumble into a cemetery and encounter the dancing dead, a spectacle overseen by the Emperor Criswal. They are spotted and taken prisoner and forced to watch the dancing as they await their fate.
Gorgeous DVD transfer of legendary schlock monster nudie
Surfink | Racine, WI | 05/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For dedicated sleazologists this has to rank as one of the top DVD releases/restorations so far this year. While readily available in the past on VHS, this digitally remastered transfer supervised by director Stephen C. Apostolof ("A. C. Stephen") makes obsolete all previous releases, including Rhino's, which looks shockingly flat, blurry, and faded in comparison. Orgy of the Dead looks like a real movie now (if not necessarily a GOOD one), with excellent color balance and saturation, contrast, brightness, sharpness, and shadow/highlight detail. Exploitation stalwart Bob Caramico's cinematography looks better than it has any right to, and the color is so rich it's hard to believe it's typically fast-fading Eastmancolor. While IMDb says this movie was in 2.35:1 widescreen (it was advertised as being in `Astravision'), it's presented full frame here. The compositions look fine, however, without any cramped, cropped feeling (the common `two noses talking' scenes or other weirdness), leading one to believe that this is the `open matte' version, which was cropped to widescreen aspect ratio in theaters. At any rate, the print looks stunning overall, extremely watchable, with only some occasional very light speckling evident.
The movie, written by the notorious Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Plan 9, Glen or Glenda, etc.), based on his novel (!!), is a curious hodgepodge of hokey monster matinee cliches and typical early-1960s nudie-cutie hijinks. Opening with Ed's standard florid Criswell monologue, Orgy of the Dead's short-lived story line presents struggling horror writer Bob and wife Shirley (sexploitation legend Pat Barrington/Barringer with flaming red hair), out driving one night looking for an old cemetery for "inspiration." (Barrington's character is named after Ed Wood's "drag" alter ego.) Bob loses control of the car, they crash, then stumble on a graveyard where the Emperor Ghoul (Criswell), the Black Ghoul (Vampira wannabe Fawn Silver), and their striped-shorts-and-armband-clad beefcake henchmen are presiding over some sort of dance revue/judgment of dead souls. Coincidentally, all the judged are female and next to naked. For the next 80 minutes, a bevy of voluptuous dead babes in G-strings each in turn do a "theme" interpretive strip dance (Indian, Skeleton, Cat, Golden Girl dipped in molten "gold" a la Goldfinger, Zombie, Hawaiian, etc.), complete with plenty of emotive gesturing and breast-jiggling amidst swirling ground fog, accompanied on the soundtrack by vaguely Les Baxter-ish exotica and Henry Mancini/Herb Alpert-ish lite pop cues. (I love the "yahoo wahoo" chant behind the Indian dance.) Interspersed with the dances are snippets of those patented non sequitur Ed Wood dialogue exchanges between Bob, Shirley, the Emperor Ghoul, Black Ghoul, and crummy, dime-store Werewolf and moth-eaten Mummy. Unlike many (most?) sexploitation movies of the era, the dancers are generally quite buff and several are certifiable knockouts. Barrington remains clothed as Shirley but displays her awesome (augmented) "ticket sellers" (Apostolof's term) doubling as the Golden Girl in a brassy blonde wig. There is a brief, surprising whipping/bondage scene, and it's revealed that the Black Ghoul swings both ways when she demands to have Shirley for herself! (Silver as the Black Ghoul does a sultry knife-dance but unfortunately no striptease.) TV psychic Criswell appears rather glassy-eyed and reads from obvious off-camera cue cards much of the time. It all winds up with a corny "was it all a dream?" twist ending. As reviled as this movie is by mainstream viewers (see reviews on IMDb), sexploitation veterans can vouch that as nudie-cuties go, Orgy of the Dead is relatively painless; some of the dances are actually mildly erotic (if occasionally out of sync with the music), while Eddie's convoluted dialogue, Criswell's hammy declamations, and the otherwise stiff, amateurish acting provide welcome moments of charming Bad Movie ambiance in the framing scenes.
The extras comprise a trailer (surprisingly looking just as terrific as the feature) and an amusing 20-minute interview with director/producer Apostolof, who recounts his beginnings in the film industry, recalls meeting and working with Ed Wood, and expounds on film technique (!!) and his decision not to go "hardcore", all in a likeable, droll manner. Orgy of the Dead is definitely not for the mainstream viewer; there is zero narrative trajectory and relatively little dialogue, mainly just lots of topless exotic dancing, making it extremely tedious or even boring for many, especially at 92 minutes. If, however you're already a fan of grade-Z schlock horror and/or cheap sexploitation, Rhino's pristine new transfer makes this bizarre, unique delight slide down smoother than a cold beer. Essential trash!!"
F. Levine | MD, United States | 12/09/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I had this on my Wish List (because I have a general interest in Ed Wood) but changed my mind and removed it--unfortunately not before a friend bought it for me. So what the heck, I thought, and popped it in the DVD player.
Oh boy. OK, here's the deal: there's being an Elvis fan, and there's buying a styrofoam cup of water he was drinking onstage that someone's been keeping in a freezer since the 1970s.. There's being an Ed Wood fan, and there's paying money for this. A "good" Ed Wood movie leaves you alternatly howling with laughter, dumbstruck, and fascinated by just how weird the guy was. A "bad" Ed Wood movie is therefore...wow, I don't have the words to describe it. My understanding is that he was marginally involved with thing at best anyway.
Maybe the problem is that I'm a straight woman. See, this movie is about boobies. Lots of jiggling boobies. It goes something like this: Emperor of the Dead Criswell and his Princess of the Dead introduce and call upon a dead woman with a sinful past to dance for their pleasure. Girl emerges from mausoleum in costume. Girl quickly loses costume. Girl does an interpretive dance to 60s soundtrack in a G-string or panties. Boobies jiggle! Criswell looks on approvingly! (And that's creepy right there.) Cut to our living heroes, failing miserably to act tied up and scared. Cut to mummy and werewolf who seem to be from the set of "The Monkees" looking on approvingly (yes, you read that correctly).
Now, repeat that ten more times.
So, if you like strip clubs or boobies (or both), or if you like interpretive dance AND happen to be under the influence of certain illegal substances, you might like this.
I am certain that somewhere in Ohio, a grandmother is shopping on Amazon for her kids' holiday presents, stumbles across this DVD listing, and lets out a blood-curdling scream. Why? Because 40 years ago, she was performing the "Slave Dance." And 39 years ago, when she was on a bus from L.A. back to her parents' house, she was thinking, "No one will ever know...because no one will ever show that thing again.. I can take that job at Uncle Harry's store, get married, and put this whole thing behind me...""
Funniest bad film of all time!
Gerald W. Hunt | Nashville, TN USA | 05/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another truly hilarious classic from Ed Wood (who apparently was too drunk to direct his own script). If only I could edit out all the long, boring strip teases and just leave in the camp dialogue and incredibly bad acting. (OK, I'd leave in the "Kitty Kat" and "The Bride".) So many classic lines; "More Gold!", "Easy, Shirley!", "I'm so Frightened!", "You, too, will have time for your pleasures, but only after I have had MY pleasures!" and the best, when our hero sees a strip tease act in the cemetery: "Nothing alive looks like that!". The film was made, it seems, by recruiting a bunch of amateurish "dancers" to take their clothes off (except they don't really take much off- Ah, the age of pasties...) Don't miss it!! I fell out of my chair the first time I saw the "Kitty Kat" and I'm still falling out of my chair all these years later. Something about the way that "scary" music segues into the "Alley Cat theme" rip-off, with the Kat dancer and her scratching post! It never fails..."
Wonderful Ed Wood Schlock, and this time it's in color!
Gerald W. Hunt | 08/27/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Oh, the horror, the horror! Well, more like the unintentional humor, the humor! What can one say about this film, other then sit down, put your mind in neutral, maybe even let it drool a bit, grab a beer or six if you're inclined to drink, and enjoy! Not sure if I enjoyed the fact that the driving sequence with the "hero and his leading girl" alternates between high noon and midnight, that apparently the tortures of the damned consists of bad go-go dancing by topless women, most of whom I'm sure will deny that they EVER were in this film, or that the princess of the darkness has a beehive hairdo. Not sure which "dead" woman was the best, they all were about as erotic as a slightly intoxicated Bea Arthur in a polyester thong. I won't even mention the rubber masked wolfman or the badly bandaged mummy (or was he just a burn victim hired as an extra?). Worth seeing, if nothing else so you know the type of film for stars....to avoid!"
An Adventure in Incompetence
Merriweather | Chicago | 12/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No one does it better than Ed Wood, and this sinister ghost story has it all: pretentious dialogue, cheesy costumes, an inebriated Criswell who keeps missing his cues, a wolf man and a mummy for comic relief, and third-rate elevator music to strip by. Classic Wood touches, such as a total disregard for time of day during filming (nighttime keeps switching to day, and vice versa), hokey special effects, a procession of topless dancers, each less talented than the one before. It's all so incredibly bad, you won't be able to take your eyes off it. If there is a weak point, it is that too much time is spent showcasing the dancers. (Although if you like really low-quality strip tease, you will probably enjoy this, too. Don't miss the cat dancer, and the cheerfully murderous bride!) The best point? It would be hard to find a more awful movie that holds your attention so well. When you're not falling off your chair laughing, you'll be mumbling, "I just can't believe it.....""