Necromania (sometimes subtitled A Tale of Weird Love) is a
pornographic film by Ed Wood, released in 1971.
1 Production and rediscovery
5 Behind the scenes
9 External links
Production and rediscovery
Ed Wood produced, wrote, and directed the film under the pseudonym
"Don Miller". The title seems to imply necrophilia, but the content
implies an obsession with Death. The film was based on the novel
The Only House (1970), also written by Wood. Rob Craig observes that
certain elements of the original story were "slavishly" adapted, while
others were altered or removed in their entirety. For example, in
the novel the rituals of sex magic are depicted in detail, and the
Carpenters are not lovers posing as a married couple. They are in fact
The film was shot on a budget of US$7,000. According to Charles
Anderson, a Wood collaborator, the director himself played a role in
the film. Anderson recalled this role to be a wizard or an evil
doctor. However, no such role appears in the finished film. Craig
suspects it was included in a deleted scene.
The film was an early entry to the new subgenre of hardcore
pornographic film. The pioneers of the subgenre were films such as
Mona the Virgin Nymph
Mona the Virgin Nymph (1970) by Howard Ziehm and Sex USA (1970) by
Gerard Damiano. The subgenre went on to enter the mainstream with Deep
Throat (1972). The idea of graphic sex as an integral part of an
adult-oriented narrative was further explored in Last Tango in Paris
(1972) by Bernardo Bertolucci, Sodom and Gomorrah: The Last Seven Days
(1974) by Artie Mitchell, and
The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976) by
Radley Metzger. As a narrative-driven film, Rob Craig argues that
Necromania can also be considered part of the Golden Age of Porn,
along with these films.
Thought lost for years, it resurfaced in edited form on Mike Vraney's
Something Weird imprint in the late 1980s, then was re-released on DVD
Fleshbot Films in 2005. Opening titles indicate "Produced &
directed by Don Miller. Our cast wish to remain anonymous."
Before the credits, the film opens to an image seen through a prism.
It depicts a group of naked, writhing bodies in the process of group
sex. The prism replicates the image, so several versions are seen in a
single frame. The credits are followed by a scene opening in a
suburban area of California. A car is seen driving around, the
passengers presumably looking for something. They stop before an old
mansion, then the camera shifts to the image of a door knocker
depicting a lion's head. The young couple knocks first, then enters
through the unlocked door. They bicker over the decision to enter
unannounced. The young man then jokes about the creepy location,
saying that "Any minute, I expect
Bela Lugosi as Dracula" to
They next enter a room decorated with occult-related items and
containing a coffin. There, the young couple is greeted by Tanya, and
identified as Danny and Shirley Carpenter. Tanya herself is dressed
only in a red negligee. They are there to see necromancer Madame Heles
(pronounced "heals") for a witchcraft solution to Danny's erectile
dysfunction. Tanya leads them to a room prepared for their stay. A
dildo serves as the ringer of the room. When left alone, the
Carpenters resume bickering over their sexual dysfunction. They fail
to notice feminine eyes watching them through the holes in a nearby
Tanya ends her surveillance and returns to the room with the coffin.
She picks up a skull and uses it to rub her body. Besides achieving
sexual stimulation, this is implied to be a ritual of sex magic.
Speaking to the coffin, Tanya informs someone that their suspicions
were correct. The Carpenters are not married. The significance of this
information is not explained. Tanya leaves the room and encounters
a man called Carl, who demands to have sex with her, claiming that he
paid plenty to be the first to have her. Tanya makes clear that she
does not have to service him, but out of pity for his need, she
chooses to do so anyway. An explicit sex scene follows.
Back in their room, the Carpenters have their own sexual session,
perhaps in an attempt at self-healing. Danny fails to have a full
erection, though, leaving Shirley unsatisfied. She wears her own
negligee and leaves the room, going in search of something to satisfy
her needs. She is startled by the presence of a stuffed wolf in the
corridor and admits to nearly peeing herself from fright. At this
point, another young woman in a nightgown approaches Shirley and
explains that this wolf died of rabies. The woman introduces herself
as Barb, an "inmate" of Madame Heles. She compliments the beauty of
Shirley and starts petting her. This petting opens a scene of lesbian
sex between the two young women.
In the bedroom, Danny wakes up from a nap to find himself alone and
his penis at rest. He decides to head out to search for Shirley.
Elsewhere, Barb and Shirley have moved their lovemaking to another
bedroom. Danny instead meets Tanya, who leads him to yet another
bedroom and seduces him. Two parallel sex scenes follow. The lesbian
one is depicted as mutually satisfying, while the heterosexual only
manages to benefit the male partner. Following that, Tanya leads
Danny to a window. Once again, group sex is seen through a prism.
Tanya explains that not all people react to "the treatment"
successfully. The people depicted through the window are those who
will never find satisfaction in their sexual lives, as some want too
much and others too little. Suddenly self-conscious, Danny realizes
that his own reaction to the treatment was not the proper one.
Tanya assures him that he is not like them, since they are lost
forever. They can never return to a world which will reject them.
Next, Tanya and Barb lead their lovers to the room with the coffin.
Danny and Shirley seem hostile to each other, implying that their
relationship is doomed. Tanya and Barb kneel before the coffin and
then strip each other. They engage in sex before their audience. In
reaction, Shirley swoons, while Danny groans in displeasure. The
sexual ritual summons Madame Heles from her coffin. Heles asks
about the progress of her two newest students. Barb praises the
learning of Shirley in sex, in response, Heles proclaims that Shirley
will henceforth live for sex alone. Barb explains that Shirley has
As Shirley walks away with Barb, Danny is left behind. Tanya declares
that they still have some work to do on him. In response, Heles
proclaims that he needs her personal sex teachings. While she waits in
her coffin, Barb and Karl enter the room. They help Tanya restrain
Danny and strip off his clothes. They force the young man to enter the
coffin of Heles and then depart. At first, Danny screams, but then he
is seen enjoying his healing session with the attractive Heles. The
Maria Arnold as Madame Heles
Rene Bond as Shirley
Ric Lutze as Danny
Wood probably included the reference to
Bela Lugosi as a tribute to an
The front door is decorated with the image of a trident. Rob Craig
suggests that it can also be seen as the pitchfork of a devil.
The spying eyes, seen through a painting are part of a trope derived
from films featuring haunted houses.
Craig sees the group sex sessions seen through the prism as a
depiction of the then-ongoing sexual revolution.
Behind the scenes
A coffin owned by
The Amazing Criswell
The Amazing Criswell is seen in the film, the second
of Wood's films (after Night of the Ghouls) in which such a coffin
appears. Criswell's family was in the mortician business. The
coffin used in Necromania, however, looks antique. According to
cinematographer Ted Gorley, this was the result of a misunderstanding.
Criswell had meant to donate his own coffin, but the crew of the film
borrowed the wrong coffin. The one used in the film was a relic dating
to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865).
In Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.
(p. 135), Maila Nurmi, who played Vampira on TV and in Plan 9
from Outer Space, tells how she declined Wood's request for her to do
a nude scene sitting up in a coffin in the role of Madame Heles.
The film magazine Cult Movies (issue #36) printed a detailed article
about the rediscovery of Wood's
Necromania and The Only House in Town.
The piece was written by Rudolph Grey, author of the Wood biography
Nightmare of Ecstasy.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad
Craig (2009), pp. 242–251
Craig, Rob (2009). "Necromania—A Tale of Weird Love (1971)". Ed
Wood, Mad Genius: A Critical Study of the Films. McFarland &
Company. ISBN 978-0786454235.
Rudolph Grey, Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D.
Wood, Jr. (1992) ISBN 978-0-922915-24-8
The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1996), documentary film
directed by Brett Thompson
Necromania on IMDb
Necromania at AllMovie
Necromania at Rotten Tomatoes
written and directed
Glen or Glenda
Glen or Glenda (1953)
Jail Bait (1954)
Bride of the Monster
Bride of the Monster (1955)
Plan 9 from Outer Space
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Night of the Ghouls
Night of the Ghouls (1958)
The Sinister Urge (1960)
Take It Out in Trade (1970)
The Only House in Town (1971)
The Young Marrieds (1972)
Short films directed
Final Curtain (1957)
The Night the Banshee Cried (1957)
Trick Shooting with Kenne Duncan (early 1960s)
Television films directed
The Sun Was Setting (1951)
Crossroad Avenger: The Adventures of the Tucson Kid (1953)
Films written only
The Violent Years
The Violent Years (1956)
The Unearthly (1957)
The Bride and the Beast (1958)
Revenge of the Virgins (1959)
Anatomy of a Psycho
Anatomy of a Psycho (1960)
Shotgun Wedding (1963)
Orgy of the Dead
Orgy of the Dead (1965)
One Million AC/DC (1969)
The Love Feast (1969)
The Snow Bunnies (1970)
Venus Flytrap (1970)
Class Reunion (1972)
The Undergraduate (1972)
The Cocktail Hostesses (1972)
Drop-Out Wife (1972)
Five Loose Women (1974)
The Beach Bunnies (1976)
Hot Ice (1978)
Crossroads of Laredo (filmed 1948, released 1995)
Hellborn (filmed mid-1950s, released 1993)
Take It Out in Trade: The Outtakes (filmed 1970, released 1995)
I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (written 1970s, released 1999)
Hollywood Rat Race