Orgy of the Dead (1965)

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I came to the new Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray of Orgy of the Dead on the strength of a few things: that title, the fact Ed Wood wrote the screenplay and the promise that, no matter what, no movie called Orgy of the Dead starring Criswell could possibly be that bad. Well…I was wrong.

This “movie” is mounted on probably the loosest “plot” ever concocted for a cheapie horror flick; Criswell and his undead Vampira-knock off sidekick (with white paint body paint for pale skin) sit in a graveyard and watch a variety of undead women rise from the grave to perform a sultry dance. There’s also a couple who get into a car crash and wander into the graveyard to bear witness to these “horrific”, erotic delights. That’s about as far as the narrative goes with 90% of the running time dedicated to the individual dance numbers that somehow make kitschy costumes, sexy women and nudity utterly monotonous. Imagine an X-rated Halloween episode of X-factor dedicated to sultry dance numbers. Now imagine the raw footage of each contestant’s audition presented in full, unedited form. That’s Orgy of the Dead.

It is so utterly dull with the repetitive, shot-reverse-shot editing pattern becoming numbingly patience-testing about fifteen minutes in. It feels like a terrible live stream where even the vision mixer and the two actors in the background, who are supposed to be tied up “in peril” might I add, are caught yawning and rolling their eyes in a desperate attempt to avoid nodding off.

I guess there’s a specific appeal here. The no-budget aesthetic – smoke machine fog, a wonky cemetery, fake skeletons – is a novelty and pleasing for about five minutes. The “idea” of this movie is also amusing. Like imagine the cast and crew getting together over a night and filming this. What a bizarre scenario. I also watched this the night before Halloween and individual frames are perfect for that time of year, but on the whole this is a genuine slog and utter waste of time. It states in the credits that Wood adapted the screenplay from his own novel and you have to wonder how the hell he had enough material here to fill a goddamn novel. He barely has enough to fill one act of a feature but he still attempts to stretch it to full length. I guess that’s Ed Wood for ya.

At one point, about two thirds of the way through and a handful of dancers in, Criswell asks “Are there more?” You shut your eyes praying to god there isn’t more. “There is more!” comes the reply. At least in that sense, Orgy of the Damned has no mercy whatsoever.

Watched on Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray.

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