Tuesday, December 12, 2017

This is just a bunch of comics parodies and remixes, okay?

This book never existed, but don't you kind of remember it in bookstores anyway?

Look, I'll level with you. I was going through the images saved to my hard drive, deciding which ones to chuck, and I found some  comics parodies that I hadn't posted here yet. So I wanted to collect them in one big post before deleting them from my computer forever. That's what this post is. There's nothing else to this, so don't expect any incisive commentary.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Loop Orbit, Part Twelve by Greg Dziawer

Skulls and shackles figure into this week's article. Enjoy!

Sex and Magic

This week's loop is quite a find.
As supernaturalism of a wide variety crops up regularly in Ed Wood's films and writings, it stands to reason that it would also appear in the 8mm silent porn loops produced and distributed by Noel Bloom. Particularly if it were a loop with strong ties to Ed in other ways.

This week, we submit a specimen for your consideration, certainly within the orbit of Ed's work, and suggesting his possible involvement.

When I first viewed the loop Sex & Magic, a number of things immediately jumped out at me, literally from all sides. The loop commences with the title spelled out in small plastic letters on an undersized pegboard. This is immediately recognizable as the same board used in just about every other Cinema Classics loop I've ever seen. Sometimes, as in this film, the board is filmed as part of a larger scene. At other times, shot in close-up, it is authoritative, the titles looking like an industrial grid of some sort, belying the nickel and dime nature of the actual prop.

The title board sits atop a table, a white skull to its right and shackles in front of it, hanging over the front edge of the table. The title and props quickly conspire to create intrigue. The skull, naturally, is the very same one that appears in Necromania and dozens of other Bloom-family loops. This identifies the set as Hal Guthu's studio on Santa Monica Blvd, where interior sets for Necromania were shot. The shackles, no doubt, were a prop easily found lying around. My friend Jack Descent had been at Guthu's studio at the time, and recalls that he had two soundstages on the ground floor of the facility, and two dungeon sets on the basement floor.

The altar, featuring two skulls, an inverted cross, and shackles.

The film opens with a medium shot: the same table, skull and shackles now joined by a second white skull and an inverted wooden cross. The cross, spray-painted a different color, also appears in Necromania. A blonde woman in a black leather dress enters from the right, a book in her hand. In close-up, as she leafs through the book, we see captioned hardcore photos on the right-hand facing pages and text on the left-hand pages, the images showing all variety of sex. I knew right away that this was a Pendulum/Calga illustrated sociosex paperback. As she places the book on the makeshift altar, we can briefly see that it is part of Calga's Everything You Wanted to See and Read series of six paperbacks, part of the larger Sexual Enlightenment Series credited to T.K. Peters. 

The second book in the series.
The first three entries in this series carried the title Everything You Wanted to See and Read About Love and Sex. That name is briefly visible here on the cover. I have Book Three, which has a red cover, but the one in this loop appears yellow. Book One and Book Two in the series I have not seen, but images of Book Two have an orange cover. Book One, unfortunately, I can find no trace of, save its copyright listing. Although the more appropriate pick at this altar may have been A Study in Sexual Practices and Black Magic, as we'll see, any T.K. Peters book will do the trick! 

In any event, the volume seen in Sex & Magic is either Everything You Wanted to See and Read About Love And Sex, Book One, or the film print I viewed is faded enough to distort the color and it's really Book Two. For the record, those paperbacks were penned by, respectively, William D. "Bill" Jones and Robin Eagle, who commonly used the pseudonym "Robert Elgin." Both books were filed for copyright on the same day: October 7, 1970. At that time, in addition to Jones and Eagle, the Pendulum magazine writing staff, who wrote these paperbacks for bonuses, also consisted of Leo Eaton and Ed Wood. Although Ed Wood did not write the Love and Sex book that appears here, he likely penned the photo captions in it. These captions remain consistent throughout two lengthy T.K. Peters series of illustrated sociosex paperbacks and contain enough stylistic signatures to surmise that Wood was their author.

But back to the film. After placing the book on the altar, the woman gets on her knees and bows and prays in front of it. The actress (as identified by an eagle-eyed viewer in a private forum) is Lynn Holmes, whose smattering of known credits includes the 1971 feature The Undergraduate, produced by Jack Descent from a script by Ed Wood. Holmes picks up the shackles and one skull and takes them into a bedroom with deep pink and fuzzy blankets not only on the bed, but even up the wall behind the bed where the headboard would normally be. Simply and cheaply, the set succeeds in creating an otherworldly atmosphere. She places the shackles and skull on the bed and steps back to conjure. As she does, her hand movements Lugosi-like, we cut to a close-up of the skull. It disappears, and in its place, a naked man appears, one hand shackled and chained to another shackle around his neck. While a simple effect, it works, again the sort of economy of means Ed was accustomed to employing.

Lynn Holmes in action: (a) Casting her spell; (b) Drinking from a wine glass.

She removes the shackles, and you can guess what happens next. After this carefully crafted build-up—relatively speaking, and largely superfluous given the intended audience—the two have sex in the usual manner, nothing very magical about it. 

Judging by the spartan sets and functional camerawork, this is certainly one of the Blooms' first-phase loops. And, as with many of these very early films, the female lead is given to overacting. The male is a near-total cipher, also purely functional. The actress' black leather boots remain on throughout. We are almost six minutes in before actual intercourse begins. We get little more than a minute, and just one position, before returning to oral sex and soon after the literal climax. He ejaculates into a wine glass, and she drinks from it, savoring it, the purpose of her ritual. (Otherwise we'd have gotten the typical facial.) She rises, and conjures again, turning him back into the white skull. She lies back and begins masturbating as she makes out with the skull.

The final title card of the film. Note the logo in the corner.
We then cut to a title card reading The End in a fanciful font that anticipates some Swedish Erotica loops that were just around the corner. In the upper right sits the second and final logo used by Cinema Classics, Bloom's flagship series of loops, which ran for approximately 100 installments between 1969 and 1971. The series started as softcore but quickly transitioned into hardcore, just in advance of the hardcore feature industry. By the time the series ended in '71, other series had begun to appear and the Cinema Classics line disappeared for good. Sex & Magic is a later title in the Cinema Classics series, shot no earlier than late 1970. 

With this film, we are on the cusp of the second phase of loops, which not only feature the subtitles and signature artistic tropes of the series  but also include numerous items of set dressing recycled from Ed Wood's final two features as a writer director, Necromania and The Young Marrieds. Sex & Magic stands at the doorstep of Ed's more certain involvement in the loops. Could he have been on set, personally arranging the altar and providing stage directions from offscreen? We may never know for certain, but for me, the answer is a confident yes.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Loop Odyssey, Part Eight by Greg Dziawer

This week, Greg explores the loop Girl on a Bike.

NOTE: Hope you had a good Thanksgiving, dear readers. Ed Wood Wednesdays took a break last week for the holidays, but Greg Dziawer is back today with a brand new article about Ed Wood's work in pornographic loops in the 1970s. This week, he examines 1973's Girl on a Bike, featuring Margie Lanier of Fugitive Girls fameThe article is a bit too NSFW for the blog, so it's been posted over at the Ed Wood Wednesdays Tumblr. You can read it here. Enjoy! - J.B. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Dziawer Odyssey, Part Six by Greg Dziawer

This week, a particular book caught Greg's eye.

The book as it appears in School Girl.
Last night, I was scanning through some 8mm silent loops from the early '70s, loops I had seen before and that had connections to Ed Wood if not his direct involvement. It seems like I've spent the better part of 2017 poring over loops in the target zone, trying to piece together Ed's possible contributions. 

It was while watching School Girl, the third loop in the long-running Swedish Erotica series—the first 19 believed to have been made by Ed, and certainly subtitled by his hand—that I had a flash of recognition as the onscreen couple sat in bed doing homework. Of course, the sitting and the homework didn't last long, a typically flimsy narrative conceit always immediately leading to sex.

What I noticed was the book on the bed. As they paged through it, it dawned on me that I had seen a similar book before in the loop Incest. Like School Girl, it carries a number of signatures shared by the larger family of loops produced by Noel Bloom. 

Though I don't know if there is any documented proof, I agree with the general consensus that Ed Wood made (or at least contributed to) the earliest Swedish Erotica loops. These short films can be identified by a number of stylistic signatures. But I've also seen these same signatures in hundreds of other non-Swedish loops, none of which to my knowledge has ever been definitively ascribed to Ed.

That's the larger, perhaps quixotic and even completely wrongheaded endeavor in this series: interrogating the larger of family of loops to find the telling intersections. And it's in those intersections, too many to suggest mere coincidence, that I've concluded Ed Wood worked on hundreds of loops in a variety of capacities.

I'll refer obsessive Woodologists to the details from my previous Odysseys and Orbits, all of which you can find here. Below are my basic findings in summa, some taken from the public record, some derived solely from my own inferences:

  • Edward D. Wood, Jr. worked in some capacity for the notorious Swedish Erotica series for a period in the early 1970s.
  • Wood wrote subtitles for numerous loop series that, like Swedish Erotica, were produced and distributed by Noel Bloom.
  • He wrote various promotional texts for these loops, too, including box cover and catalog insert summaries.
  • The set decorations for these loops draw from the same common pool of bric a brac: wall hangings, pillows, blankets, lamps, nightstands, etc. Some of these same items turn up in the final two feature films Ed is known to have directed, Necromania and The Young Marrieds.
  • I know more than a few experts who also feel strongly that Wood was involved in decorating the sets of these pornographic loops, and there's even the notion out there that he may have edited them, too.

The book as it appears in Incest.
Back to that book. When I checked the loop Incest, sure enough, the same book appeared immediately. It's obvious from the size of the book and also the view of the spine. In School Girl, you can see the finger-grips on the edge of it, as well as gilt edging, earmarking it as a dictionary or encyclopedia. Well, the actors in the movie must have been studying vocabulary, because in Incest, we see that it is indeed a dictionary. We get a close up of the page on which the word "incest" is defined, just before Rick Cassidy laughs and casually tosses the book to the corner of the couch.

While there are numerous other correspondences between these two loops and the larger family of loops, this was a nice little moment for me. The sort of moment that rewards patience and continues to spur me on. I'm sure I'll see that book again, now that my eyes are open to it, and when I do, you'll hear all about right here at Ed Wood Wednesdays.