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With: Maria Arnold, Rene Bond, Ric Lutze, Edward D. Wood Jr.
Written by: Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Directed by: Edward D. Wood, Jr.
MPAA Rating: Not rated, but should be considered X or NC-17
Running Time: 53
Date: 01/01/1971

Necromania (1971)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Getting Wood

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

When Edward D. Wood, Jr. began his career he probably hoped to make good movies that people would be interested in seeing, movies like Dracula. When Bela Lugosi died in 1956 and Wood wrapped up the last of their three films together, Plan 9 from Outer Space, the filmmaker found himself less and less likely to advance in his chosen career. And so he began moving sideways, into the adult arena. At first he made slightly lurid "B" movies like The Sinister Urge, graduating to harmless "nudie" flicks like Orgy of the Dead and finally winding up with full-fledged porn. This 1971 film, one of the last Wood completed before his death in 1978, was recently discovered in its complete, 53-minute, X-rated glory and has been released on a new DVD by Fleshbot Films. The slightly less hardcore version of Necromania has previously been available in fuzzy, incomplete VHS copies, but now DVD viewers can choose between both versions.

The "plot" has a young couple (none of the actors are credited) looking to spice up their sex life by visiting a kind of sex witch. The couple attempts a bout of lovemaking and fails. The woman goes exploring and has a lesbian encounter, while the man has sex with the female proprietor (who also has sex with another male guest). Finally, the man is forced into a coffin to have sex with yet another woman. Throughout, Wood's uniquely stilted dialogue peppers the film. As bad as Wood was, he retained a singular voice throughout all his films; his harmless 1950s sci-fi films sound exactly like his 1970s porn films. Other writers have already pointed out the long sequence in which the man fumbles with his pajama bottoms, untangling them in front of the camera before putting them on. It's difficult not to think of Tim Burton's Ed Wood and its clueless director saying something like "leave it! It's real!"

That makes Wood some kind of twisted auteur, whose voice remained constant and visible throughout his brief and sporadic career. Even so, Necromania can be a trying experience. Today's porn films are peopled with actors who spend time and money cultivating their looks and skills, while the actors in Necromania are probably the only people Wood could find and afford to hire. (Let's just say that none of them are particularly easy on the eyes.) It's telling that Wood still dabbled in sci-fi and horror even while selling out to the sex industry. He fills Necromania with strange little fetishes, like a woman holding a skull up to her breasts, the coffin, a painting with secret spy holes, etc. That he managed to fit these elements into a sex film is somewhat commendable. Overall, I can't really recommend Necromania to anyone but the most die-hard Wood fans, those who have a soul special enough to appreciate his bizarre, inept genius. The new DVD comes with a liner notes essay by Fleshbot editor John d'Addario, and a text extra "about the film" on the DVD.

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