Director: Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Fleshbot Films

In addition to taking liberty with the true facts and characters in director Edward D. Wood, Jr.'s life, Tim Burton's Hollywood biopic ED WOOD also had one major glaring faux pas: it completely glossed over his adult film career! That's right, after the 1950's left Ed destitute and broken, he began making sexploitation films in 1961 with THE SINISTER URGE. 1965 saw him writing the script for Stephen Apostolof's ORGY OF THE DEAD, which kick-started a ten-year friendship and partnership between the two men. Wood wrote the scripts for several 70s skinflicks, including CLASS REUNION, DROP-OUT WIFE, THE BEACH BUNNIES and several more for Apostolof. But in-between his classier softcore outings, Wood also took the dive into hardcore with two rarely-screened, long-lost weekend quickies. Fleshbot Films has acquired the rights to both films: THE ONLY HOUSE IN TOWN (which hasn't been seen since its theatrical release!) and NECROMANIA, which was previously only available in an abbreviated softcore version. Presented here are both the hardcore and softcore version for the curious and completists sure to enjoy this oddball outing.

Shirley and Danny are a young couple who venture into the countryside.....OK, downtown visit the mysterious Madame Heles. The Satan-worshipping enchantress has promised to help Danny with problem, and introduces Shirley to lesbianism, gets Danny's pecker up for a ride of her own and finally initiates them into the clutches of Satan, with Danny getting laid in a coffin!

For a 52-minute film (or should it be called a short?), there is very little in the way of plot or dialogue, but what lines are spoken are typical Wood genius. Wood's films, especially this one, have often been knocked for their non-actors and their problems with handling dialogue, but this one's actually pretty acceptable. Adorable cult favorite Rene Bond does her best with the script (probably 10 pages, if that) and proves to non-believers that she was still a pro when it came to delivering her lines. Even Ric Lutze plays his smarmy self perfectly. Maria Arnold unfortunately seems to realize this is merely a micro-budget porno pic and doesn't bother to reveal her superb comic personality. A nudge and a wink to the ridiculous script would have been welcome from her. The up-close-and-clinical hardcore sex is anything but sexy, and in fact may invite fast-forwarding! Maria Arnold is especially shot in unflattering close-up, revealing spotty pimples on her ass! Once you get past the genealogical bumping and grinding, NECROMANIA is an enjoyable curio for Ed Wood fans and little more.

The often-noted production year of 1971 for this film may be a little off...Rene Bond does not sport her rock-solid Harry Novak-bought breast implants, which is a major tip-off to the chronology of her films. The flat-chested Rene made a few films in 1970: COUNTRY CUZZINS for Harry Novak, the hardcore film GIRL IN A BASKET and this film. In 1971, she really came onto the scene with her now quite healthy breast size, so it's probable that NECROMANIA was produced in 1970 and not released until 1971.

Fleshbot's fullframe transfer of NECROMANIA was culled from the sole surviving prints of the XXX and softcore versions, and they've done a bang-up job on restoring them! With several instances of dirt, debris and print jumps, the image for the most part looks good. Colors are vibrant, for the most part, and everything is clean and clear. The mono audio is nothing to get excited about, but it's just fine.

Promotional ads stated that a Rudolph Grey interview would be included on the disc, which is nowhere to be found here. 'Tis a pity, because Grey is the know-all, end-all expert on Ed Wood and it would have been interesting for him to share his findings on the production of NECROMANIA. Perhaps Fleshbot wanted to include the very good interview with Grey from Something Weird's now out-of-print VHS edition, but couldn't license it; those who still own the SWV version may want to hold onto it for that interview alone. Extras are limited to the softcore version of the film and very good liner notes detailing Wood's foray into hardcore pornography. The soft version of NECROMANIA is a nice addition for completists who would like to own the version they're used to seeing, but won't really require a second viewing. (Casey Scott)