Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Vamp or Not? Orgy of the Dead

Although directed by Stephen C. Apostolof this 1965 movie was written by Edward D Wood Jr based on his novel of the same name and featured Criswell (Plan 9 from Outer Space). It often worms its way into vampire filmographies and so I decided to look at it here.

The film, in truth, seems to be little more than a portmanteau wraparound for a series of (rather un-erotic) burlesque dances by half naked girls – apparently the novel has stories instead. However it begins with a coffin being opened and the occupant sitting up. He is the Emperor (Criswell) and he gives us a typically Criswell-esque speech about the “threshold people”, this being a phrase describing all the monsters/undead. Later he refers to them as Night People also.

post car crash
Bob (William Bates) and his gal Shirley (Pat Barrington) are driving at night looking for a graveyard as Bob is a horror writer and is searching for inspiration. Shirley is a nag and she is doing just this as he speeds up looking for a place to do a u-turn and crashes. They awake nowhere near the car but awfully near the graveyard where the Emperor is.

Black Ghoul and the Emperor
The Emperor is judging the dead (or the female dead, at least). This is based on whether their dances entertain him. With him is his princess of the night, Black Ghoul (Fawn Silver). The Mummy (Louis Ojena) and the Wolfman (John Andrews, Horror of the Blood Monsters) capture Bob and Shirley and tie them up, forcing them to watch the entertainment whilst Black Ghoul pleads to be given Shirley and the Emperor decides their fates.

a famous cloak
So, vampire? Well if there is one it would be the Emperor or Black Ghoul. Black Ghoul certainly looks vampish – and this is unsurprising as the role was written with Vampira in mind. However, she does nothing vampiric – almost. Criswell wears a cape and does walk with his cloak over his face, reminiscent of Tom Mason pretending to be Lugosi in Plan 9. According to IMDb trivia the cloak he wears is the same that Lugosi wore as Dracula in Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein. I said almost nothing re Black Ghoul's vampiric activity and, as sunlight hits the cemetery, she does turn into a skeleton as does the Emperor... but so do the wolfman and mummy. Indeed, all Night People do, or so the reformed Emperor informs us, whilst sat in his coffin, and then they reappear on the night of the next full moon.

captured
So, barely a plot, wooden acting, un-erotic burlesque and Criswell hamming it up. The best I can say for this is that the colour palette of the photography looked nice. But is it Vamp? No. Let’s be honest, she is referred to as a ghoul (and yes there is a lot of ghoul and vampire crossover) and looks a complete Vamp and he is wearing Bela’s cloak, but that does not make someone a vampire. The turning to skeleton in daylight impacts all the creatures and so loses its vampire exclusivity. It just shouldn’t be on the vampire filmographies unless looking a bit like a vampire gets you on.

The imdb page is here.

4 comments:

kirsi mannonen said...

Never seen this one, but graveyard set and colour palette looked lovely in couple of stills... I know, I know, it´s stills.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Kirsi, thanks for stopping by. The colour palette was nicely done but the film itself...

exclamationmark said...

A depressingly bad film. Nowhere near the fun of some of Wood's more notorious titles. I had this on VHS tape once, but gave it away shortly after my first and only viewing.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hey Mark, fabulous to see you here (I deleted the doubled comment, hope that's ok).

It is a bad film - though I'll stick with the scant praise that the colour palette was nicely done. To a degree if the burlesque had been well done it might of rescued the film a little (only a little, the plot would still be virtually non-existent).