Here we have an interesting little number. ORGY OF THE DEAD was a bizarre cross between a horror movie and a nudie cutie (pre-porno skin flicks focused on naked girls). It plays like Halloween night in a strip club, in fact. The story, such as it is, involves stranded motorists who have the misfortune to break down next to an isolated cemetery hosting the annual “Review Of The Dead,” or some such.
Horror novelist Bob and his gal Shirley look on as the “King of the Ghouls” passes judgment on a series of dead women, which basically means that they each do a themed dance number and if they please the King, they get to move on to the afterlife. There’s a Roman slave girl, a squaw, a Hawaiian dancer, a murderous bride, a stripper, and so forth, each topless.
Though it’s short on story (eventually the King’s mummy and werewolf henchman snatch Bob and Shirley and tie them to stakes closer to the action, where they will be the victims of the King’s Vampira-esque moll if the festivities don’t last until sunrise), the film is wildly entertaining. The script was provided by Ed Wood, based upon his novel of the same name! Though Wood himself didn’t direct, all his usual directorial flourishes are on display. Continuity is non-existent, day and night are interchangeable, stock footage is ineptly spliced into the action, cues are blown, camera work is incredibly poor, etc.
The dialog is a scream, particularly the lines spouted by the King -played by Wood regular, TV “psychic” Criswell. Criswell is obviously sauced through the whole affair, and on top of that, had difficulty reading his cue cards through the heavy fog pumped onto the set. He visibly looks beyond the actors and strains his eyes to read his lines before turning back to the scene and delivering his words with all the conviction of a five-year-old in a school play about vegetables. On the plus side, the film is in gorgeous color and the photography is nice and sharp. The music is interesting and at times even catchy.
The cast has some interesting faces and figures. Burlesque starlet Pat Barrington plays two roles, one as redheaded Shirley and another as a platinum blonde ghost obsessed with gold. The Hawaiian dancer is 60’s nude model Mickey Jines, who has the body of an Elvgren girl! There are a few girls here who are pretty easy on the eyes, so there’s visual interest beyond the technical ineptitudes. For the most part, though, entertainment is derived from the wacky production values of a typical Ed Wood master work. Criswell in particular gets funnier and funnier as the show progresses. Not for everyone, obviously, but ORGY OF THE DEAD has a lot more (granted unintentional) entertainment value than one would expect. Released on a very nice DVD by Rhino Home Video. By the way, “Shirley” was the name Ed used when he was in drag. Freud would have had a field day with Wood.