Ed Wood film 'Necromania' once again available: Sexually explicit micro-budget indie was one of cult director's final efforts
Fans of cult favorite screenwriter-director-producer Ed Wood a.k.a. Edward D. Wood Jr., in some quarters labeled The Worst Filmmaker of All Time, now have one more Ed Wood film to check out: Necromania: A Tale of Weird Love!, a long-thought lost, sexually explicit 1971 release about the erotic awakening of a young couple through the assistance of a witch and her lustful minions. Wood himself wrote the novel, The Only House (1970), on which Necromania is based.
Reportedly after more than 15 years of detective work, in 2001 Ed Wood biographer Rudolph Grey (Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr., 1992) and movie distributor/Wood enthusiast Alexander Kogan discovered a complete Necromania print in a warehouse in the Los Angeles area. They're now making it available on DVD – in softcore and hardcore versions – via the porn site Fleshbot.
Shot in about three days on a budget totaling $7,000 (approximately $33,000 in 2004), the original Necromania went missing shortly after its initial release. In the late 1980s, dupes in varying degrees of completeness resurfaced; these were the only known prints in existence.
'Necromania' plot + 'anonymous' cast & director
In accordance with the classic narrative about “regular folk” finding refuge/looking for help in what turns out to be a menacing – at times darkly supernatural – location (e.g., The Old Dark House, The Most Dangerous Game, The Black Cat, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Necromania features 1970s adult film performers Ric Lutze and Rene Bond as a young (not really) married couple who, in order to find a Southern California-style cure for the (faux) husband's erectile dysfunction, seek medical aid from a necromancer, Madame Heles, at her foreboding mansion.
Maria Arnold – if the IMDb info is accurate, seen in about 50 adult films of the 1970s – plays the necromantic Madame, a curious type who spends her days lying inside a coffin, coming to sex-starved life at the midnight hour.
At a time when U.S.-made sex-themed features were beginning to transition from soft to hardcore – the epoch-making XXX blockbusters Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones would come out in the next two years – none of the Necromania actors received screen credit. “Our cast wish to remain anonymous,” explains the movie's opening title.
Apparently, that wish was shared by the director/producer. Ed Wood, who is also supposed to have taken on a small role in the film (if so, his cameo ended up on the cutting-room floor), is credited as “Don Miller.”
Final Ed Wood film?
Several reports assert that Necromania was the very last film Ed Wood directed. In reality, that honor – officially, at least – belongs to another sexually explicit early 1970s release, The Young Marrieds, which came out in 1972.
Like Necromania, for years The Young Marrieds was believed lost until a 16mm print was found in Vancouver in 2004. The story – no connection with the mid-1960s daytime soap opera of the same name – revolves around the sexual disconnect between an uptight husband and his more liberated wife. In the cast: Louis Wolf, Alice Friedland, George Black, and Cynthia Walker. Director Wood was credited as “Richard Trent.”
Making things more confusing, the IMDb lists another 1972 release, Panty Girls / Bloomer Girl, as an Ed Wood film. The movie's auteurship, however, hasn't been firmly established. Released without a directorial credit, Panty Girls stars Necromania's Ric Lutze and Rene Bond, who, as per the article linked to in the previous sentence, were an off-screen item.
And that's not all. Besides Necromania, Ed Wood directed another micro-budget 1971 film based on his novel The Only House: The Only House in Town, featuring Female Chauvinists and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens actress Uschi Digard – and no connection, except for the extended title, with George Stevens' 1970 Elizabeth Taylor-Warren Beatty drama The Only Game in Town.
March 2019 update: Another supposedly long-thought-lost Ed Wood film, The Only House in Town, which lacks both graphic sex and graphic witchcraft, is now available on DVD.
Ed Wood movies
Screenwriter-director-producer and sometime actor Ed Wood (born on Oct. 10, 1924, in Poughkeepsie, New York) had to resort to shooting his films with the microscopic-est of budgets, as he could find no backers.
In the last couple of decades of the 20th century, Wood became (posthumously) famous for his handful of minimalist-budgeted, technically and artistically challenged movies of the 1950s, such as:
- The partly autobiographical gender-bending drama Glen or Glenda (1953), with Wood (billed as Daniel Davis) as the titular crossdresser, his real-life girlfriend Dolores Fuller as Glen's gal, veteran Bela Lugosi (Dracula, The Black Cat) – by then a morphine addict – as an enigmatic “scientist,” Timothy Farrell as a doctor and the film's narrator, and 1930s Warner Bros. second lead Lyle Talbot (Mandalay, Havana Widows) as a police inspector.
- Jail Bait (1954), in which early silent era star Herbert Rawlinson (Damon and Pythias, Flirting with Death) plays a plastic surgeon coerced into changing the looks of a young hoodlum (Timothy Farrell) wanted by the police. Also in the cast: Dolores Fuller, Clancy Malone, and future Hercules star Steve Reeves.
- The campy sci-fi/horror thriller Bride of the Monster (1955), starring Bela Lugosi as a Mad Doctor set on using atomic energy to transform regular humans into Marvel-style superheroes. Things go from mad to worse after one of the doctor's assistants (Tor Johnson) becomes a super-monster and a journalist (Loretta King) starts nosing around.
- The sci-fi/horror camp fest Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), featuring little-known performers Gregory Walcott and Mona McKinnon as the leads, plus Lyle Talbot, former B-Western star Tom Keene (Scarlet River, Sunset Pass, King Vidor's non-Western Our Daily Bread), Vampira (a.k.a. Maila Nurmi), and Bela Lugosi – who died before production began; his scenes in Plan 9 from Outer Space had actually been shot for other Ed Wood film projects.
Erotic stories & screenplays
From the mid-1960s on, Ed Wood devoted his energies to writing and directing erotic (some would call them pornographic) stories.
In addition to his few adult-oriented writer-director-producer efforts of the early 1970s, Wood wrote/co-wrote the screenplay of several sexually explicit/softcore films, among them The Cocktail Hostesses (1973); Five Loose Women (1974), in which he had a cameo; and The Beach Bunnies (1976) – the first two titles featuring Necromania actress Rene Bond, and all three directed by Stephen C. Apostolof.
Suffering from chronic alcoholism, Ed Wood died of heart failure at age 54 on Dec. 10, 1978, in the Los Angeles suburb of North Hollywood.
'Ed Wood': The film
In the highly fictionalized, Tim Burton-directed 1994 partial biopic Ed Wood – warmly embraced by critics but a box office flop – Johnny Depp played a, however enjoyable, caricature of the small-time auteur.
Also in the Ed Wood film cast: Sarah Jessica Parker (as Dolores Fuller), Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey Jones, G.D. Spradlin, Vincent D'Onofrio (as Orson Welles), Mike Starr, Max Casella, Lisa Marie (as Vampira), Norman Alden, Bill Murray, and Plan 9 from Outer Space alumni Gregory Walcott and Conrad Brooks (played by Brent Hinkley in Ed Wood).
Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski were credited for the screenplay based on Rudolph Grey's Ed Wood bio.
Image featuring two cast members of the 1971 Ed Wood film Necromania: Alpha Blue Archives.
“Ed Wood Film Necromania Rediscovered: Long-Thought Lost Sexually Explicit 'Tale of Weird Love'” last updated in March 2019.