Ed Wood’s Necromania
Studio: Fleshbot Films
Film Length: 54/51 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Standard (4:3)
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Retail Price: $19.95
I must admit it’s a great honor to be able and review a film by the one and only Edward D. Wood, Jr. at this very site. Over the past twenty years a large cult following has surrounded the director thanks in large part to a book written by Michael Medved but in the last five years a bigger cult has gathered thanks to Tim Burton’s 1994 masterpiece Ed Wood, which took a look at the man many consider to be the worst director of all time.
For starters, anyone with knowledge about Wood or the type of films will tell you that this so-called book doesn’t have the slightest idea about bad movies. In fact, I’d go as far to say that these guys hadn’t even seen many of the movies they mentioned in the book and I’d go even further by saying their amount of viewed films is apparently very small. Those who only know Wood by the Burton film are again missing out on a lot of details. There was no meeting with Orson Welles, no standing ovation for Plan 9 From Outer Space and there was no end to Wood after the making of that film.
While Wood’s greatest achievement was Plan 9, the man would continue to make films, either as director or screenwriter up until his death in 1978. This here is proof that most fans of Burton’s film didn’t know that and that the “book” didn’t see any of these other films. Had this book seen any of these other movies then they’d realize that Plan 9 was a lot better than the likes of the Wood directed Night of the Ghouls, which was filmed in 1961 but not released until five years after Wood’s death because he couldn’t pay the lab bill. Wood screenplay’s included those of The Bride and the Beast, Married Too Young, One Million AC/DC and the infamous Orgy of the Dead, which really is the worst film ever made.
Those are some of Wood’s better known titles but then there was Wood’s other career of making adult films, sometimes softcore and sometimes hardcore, which he did for many years. Several of these films were written under a fake name so it took some time for people to discover that Wood actually wrote them. A few of these films have gone missing for quite some time and sadly, they’ll probably never be discovered but thankfully, through hard work and luck, Wood’s final feature film, 1971’s Necromania has finally been found in its complete form. Previous released at a cut 48-minutes, this here features the full 54-minute version, which contains some scenes, which were lost for many years.
No matter where you first heard the name Edward D. Wood, Jr., perhaps people should do a bit more viewing before bashing this man and labeling him the worst director ever. There’s a reason people watch his movies and there’s a reason Hollywood would make a film about him. I’m certainly not saying Wood was a good director because he wasn’t. He was a bad director but he did have something others didn’t have. For some reason, Wood made films that people could actually watch and get a kick out of. There had to be some talent in Wood for him to be able and get this. If it wasn’t talent then you still can’t call him the worst director. Seriously, have you seen any films by Al Adamson or Jerry Warren? Before labeling Wood as the worst director or Plan 9 From Outer Space the worst film ever made, please check out Jerry Warren’s Frankenstein Island for starters. Then follow that up with hundreds of others, which really makes Wood look like Orson Welles.
Now, enough talk about the man and now let’s take a look at Necromania.
Danny and Shirley, a young couple suffering sexual problems, shows up at the house of Madame Heles (pronounced “Heals”) in hopes that the witchdoctor can cure them. The problem is a rather hard on in the fact that Danny is having a problem rising to the occasion, which has left Shirley unsatisfied and gives her thoughts of ending the relationship. The Madame won’t show up until midnight but thankfully there’s a few other guests on hand who will try and tackle the hard job of saving the young couple.
Necromania was shot in the matter of days (if not one day) with the budget of $7,000. The film was shot in two versions, one hardcore version (54-minutes) as well as a softcore version (51-minutes), which is the one most people has seen thanks to various bootleg markets. The three minutes difference in running times is that of hardcore sex. We get a few money shots but there really isn’t that much of a difference in the two. The soft version features mostly kissing and while I’m sure it would get an NC-17 rating today, it really isn’t too graphic. This new uncut version does feature an extended ending as well as some more graphic sex.
I was fairly shocked to see how well this movie was directed. Yes, it doesn’t take too much talent to film sex scenes but Wood actually keeps the film at a nice pace as well as keeps the so-called story going. We don’t get any of the typical Wood craziness and the cast isn’t nearly as bad as those in previous Wood films. For the most part this is just a sex film but thankfully we get some tasty Wood dialogue, which is a real hoot and again, the dialogue is actually good instead of the bad stuff that usually just makes us laugh at its dumbness. The girl has some wonderfully funny insult lines thrown at her boyfriend, which are quite clever in their own way.
Other interesting moments to Wood fans will be a short cameo by Criswell’s coffin, which was previous used in Night of the Ghouls. Another charming moment is a small dedication from the director to his favorite star Bela Lugosi who has his name mentioned at the start of the film. Wood, being a huge fan of Lugosi makes a nice little turn to throw his name out there, which is nice to see. The sex scenes are not erotic but we do get some very funny dubbing, which never matches up to the lip movement. I won’t get into graphic detail but while one woman has her mouth full, the words coming out is rather funny. Other funny moments include various sound effects used for laughs as well as a nice music score, which helps things move along.
Necromania isn’t a classic Ed Wood film but I’m sure fans of the director will want to check it out. There’s enough zany moments to keep Wood fans entertained and it’s also interesting to note that the film is pretty well made considering this was probably the smallest budget Wood ever worked with and that’s saying a lot.
VIDEO---The film is shown in the Standard (4:3) ratio, which is the correct way the film should be viewed. I’m not really sure how theaters framed these types of films back in the day but it’s clear the film would be missing way too much information if it were matted. Plus, it’s not like any of the shots are framed any certain way and it seems the cameraman just set the camera up and got out of the way. I haven’t seen any of the previous releases of this film but I did watch the softcore version, which is included as an extra. This version is the same thing that has been released by other labels and it’s clear that this new version contains a better transfer.
The soft version features all sorts of issues from faded colors, watermarks, scratches, speckles and various other issues, which are mostly cleaned up in the hard version. The hard version still features plenty of faults but it’s clearly better after you’ve seen both versions. The biggest advantage to the hard version is that the colors are a lot more detailed and you can actually make out various scenes in the movie. Wood fans know that he loved pink clothing and the colors of that pink are on display in the hard version and it’s easy to see. In the soft version the pink colors are either washed out or overly dark to where they seem purple.
Again, this transfer isn’t nothing to show off your Home Theater to but then again, I’m sure you know that. The transfer features several issues but considering this film was lost as well as shot for $7,000, you really can’t expect anything better. Plus, it’s a lot better than previous versions out there.
AUDIO---We get a Dolby Digital Stereo track, which does its job just fine but again, don’t be expecting something to show off your Surround system. The dialogue is clear throughout without any cuts, scratches or hiss. A little hiss can be heard in the opening credits but that’s it. The music score also sounds very well without any problems.
EXTRAS---You get a small booklet, which tells a brief history lesson about Ed Wood and these notes are repeated on the DVD itself under the “production notes”. The biggest extra however is the inclusion of the 51-minute “soft” version, which has been released on VHS by various bootleg companies. This here marks its first official release.
OVERALL---Many folks have been waiting for this lost film to be discovered and here it is in all its glory. I’m sure those who hate Wood’s work will hate this as well but those who enjoy “B” movies and Wood should really get a kick out of the film. It’s certainly not in the same class as Plan 9 From Outer Space or Glen or Glenda? but there’s enough interesting aspect for a recommendation. Fleshbot has released a very nice package for Ed Wood fans. The inclusion of both versions is a major plus that should make Wood fans very happy.
The disc can be ordered HERE
Release Date: Now Available