• Orgy Of The Dead



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: September 26th, 2017.
    Director: A.C. Stephens
    Cast: Criswell, Fawn Silver, Pat Barrington, Nadejda Dobrev
    Year: 1965
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    The Movie:

    This, one of the more notoriously awful films of Ed Wood's career, was actually directed by A.C. Stephens (the first of a few collaborations that would last between the two until Wood passed away in 1978). Orgy Of The Dead was written Ed Wood and based on his novel of the same name (published by Greenleaf Press and supposedly featuring an introduction from Forrest J. Ackerman?). It's more or less a plotless affair but the setup is that a couple named Bob and Shirley (William Bates and Pat Barrington respectively) get into a car crash while out trying to find a cemetery. Why are they doing this? Because Bob figures will give him the inspiration he needs to write his next horror story.

    After the wreck, they wander through the woods a bit and then stumble into a cemetery, possibly the very same one they were looking for, at which point they hide in the shrub. Here they watch as The Emperor (Criswell - and yes that is one of the late Lugosi's Dracula capes he's wearing) plays master of ceremonies to a series of ritualistic dances performed by ghosts, ghouls, zombies, werewolves and mummies. Oh, and scantily clad/partially nude ladies. Lots of them. When the couple is spotted, they're tied up and forced to watch the dances as they await judgment from The Emperor and his female assistant Black Ghoul (Fawn Hall), who will decide whether they live or die.

    Bizarre even by the standards of Wood's filmography, this movie doesn't really have much going for it outside of the endless parade of topless ladies dancing around to quirky, upbeat jazz tunes and sporting various wacky outfits. That said, the film really is endlessly amusing, even if it should be mind-numbingly boring. How much you get out of it will depend on two things, really:

    1- How much entertainment value you get out of Criswell's ridiculous dialogue and even more ridiculous deliver of that dialogue.
    2- How much you dig goofy naked ladies strutting about to quirky jazz scores.

    For some of us out there, this is more enough reason to want to watch a movie. As such, the film will always have its fans (this writer included) but it's hard to defend the movie from its detractors. It's not well shot, it's horribly paced, and it doesn't really have a story. On top of that, it's horribly acted and despite some kinky whip play and a scene that was obviously lifted from Goldfinger it somehow manages to stretch its paper thin plot to a full ninety minute running time. Some will be bored and rightly complain that the movie is slow. Ohers will find it fascinating, entrancing even. Don't expect much out of the costumes (they look store bought) or the sets (or more specifically, set - there's only one. The fog machine, though working overtime, can't hide the film’s deficiencies, which are many. But Orgy Of The Dead… it’s got that certain something. It’s one of those movies that you can sort of put it on in the background while you’re vacuuming and it’ll make you happy.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Vinegar Syndrome offers up Orgy Of The Dead on Blu-ray ‘newly scanned and restored in 2k from the 35mm original camera negative’ and good God almighty does it ever look good. Colors really pop here while the black levels look spot on. There’s virtually no print damage at all, the image is shockingly clean (it has looked good on DVD in the past but not this good) while skin tones appear lifelike and natural. There are no noticeable issues with any compression artifacts nor is there any obvious edge enhancement or noise reduction. Grain appears naturally and we get exceptional detail, depth, texture and contrast. Really, it’s hard to imagine this movie looking any better than it does on this release.

    Audio chores for the feature are handled well by the English language DTS-HD Mono track. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and the score, a high point of the film, has good resonance and clarity. There are no audible issues with any hiss or distortion and the levels are nicely balanced. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    Extras start off with a commentary track featuring Ed Wood biopgrapher Rudolph Grey and filmmaker Frank Henenlotter. The track is a solid one, filling us in as best as the commentators can on the various cast members that are used in the film and offering up lots of info on the crew as well. There’s plenty of talk about where this fits in alongside other Wood movies, Wood’s relationship with Stephens, the book that the movie was based on and quite a bit more. Both of these guys clearly know their stuff and they have a good chemistry here, making this track a lot of fun and quite interesting too.

    From there we get a couple of fairly awesome interviews, starting with Impressions Of Nadejda wherein actress Nadejda Dobrev is interviewed for sixteen about her work on the feature as the slave dancer. She explains how she wound up in Hollywood after growing up in Syria, why she ended up working in this movie, and what it was like on set – it’s pretty interesting stuff, make sure you watch it all the way through. From there, check out Orgy Of The Ted, a quick two and a half minute piece with the late, great Ted V. Mikels who explains all too briefly how and why he wound up doing lighting on the film.

    Outside of that we get a nice sized still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    Vinegar Syndrome has also supplied some nice reversible cover sleeve art with their newly commissioned piece on one side and a one sheet image on the reverse. As this is a combo pack release we also get a DVD version of the movie taken from the new restoration and with the same extras as are found on the Blu-ray.

    The Final Word:

    Orgy Of The Dead is seriously goofy stuff, bottom of the barrel sexploitation made fast and cheap with an admittedly attractive cast of fetching, curvy cuties and… Criswell. If you know what you’re getting into, Vinegar Syndrome’s special edition Blu-ray release is pretty much impossible to resist!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!


















































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