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Manor On Movies: Curse Of The Dead (1961)

  Bela Lugosi seated in a den: "The sparrow flies. But does it go anywhere? Rejoice!"

An out-take from Glen Or Glenda? Yes. And no. While the scene undoubtedly was shot for the auteur's cinematic debut, it appears in the recently unearthed "lost" Ed Wood movie, Curse Of The Dead.

What's Curse about?

About 67 minutes. Hi-yoooo. Bada-bing.

But, cereal, folks, who better to describe Curse Of The Dead than its narrator, psychic extraordinaire and Wood regular Criswell?

In his own (Wood-scripted) words: "Bandaged souls eternally roaming the Earth, never to die, only to be reborn...Sentenced to centuries of life, longing for an existence they've never known."
Listen up, dummies; we're talkin' mummies!

Although Bride Of The Monster is often described as the follow-up to Wood's triumph Plan 9 From Outer Space - WRONG - Curse Of The Dead is a sequel of sorts...as in many of the same players and a similar storyline but not presented as a continuation of Plan 9, merely utilizing one P9 plot device to get the story rolling.

Which probably explains why it was not entitled Plan 10.

Having done all he could with zombies, Eduardo opted to slice up some bed sheets, wrap the strands around a bunch of his buddies and have mummies run amok this go-round. (Scaring the crap out of Kelton The Cop, of course.)

Once again mixing monster genres, these mummies roam in packs (a la zombies) and only come out at night (like werewolves and vampires) because...well, Ed Wood, that's why!

How'd it happen? Before being dispatched at the end of Plan 9 - via a few feet of leftover footage from the latter and said sole direct reference to it--aliens Commander Eros and Tanna sent out some sort of beam, re-animating all the mummies on the planet. How so many got to California is anyone's guess.

Fans of stunning visual effects will be profoundly gobsmacked by the riveting invasion montage. This entails what is clearly the same three bandaged baddies walking menacingly in front of rear-projected slides of tourist attractions, a few completely out of scale.

One mummy is either a dozen feet tall, or the Liberty Bell is approximately eleven inches high. (Much like the formations at Stone'enge.)

To the untrained eye, this may come across as technical incompetence. However, a seasoned professional such as myself - I have, after all, watches over one hundred movies! - sees Wood keenly reflecting on man's inhumanity to man, a subtle homage to the Dadaist Movement and, of course, the obvious reference to the Rittenhouse theory of distinct consequences.

What did The Authorities do to combat the greatest threat to mankind to ever sweep the globe? Because Manor On Movies was selected as and flattered to be the sole media outlet bestowed with an advanced copy, I am strictly adhering to the M-O-M "no spoilers" policy. Let's just say you’ll never see anything like the movie I'm describing on this page.

I will "accidentally" provide a heads-up, though. Keep a sharp eye out for the three-second appearance of a newspaper delivery boy. It's a juvenile Jeff Bridges!!!


As we "Rejoice!" over this masterpiece being resurrected from obscurity, it's fair to wonder how Curse Of The Dead came to be produced in the first place.

According to the promotional material, one Elias Gentry, owner of a small but highly profitable string of drive-ins in Illinois and self-described "monster movie nut," figured he could have more fun and get a larger slice of the pie by investing in productions.

He knew Wood's name and considered him a bigshot, from flicks that repeatedly aired at Gentry's ozoner (that's cool-talk for "drive-in"); and Ed generously allowed Elias to cough up some cash.

Owning a half-dozen screens in the sticks didn't give Gentry much cachet in Tinseltown; therefore, he was doubly impressed Wood not only warmly welcomed him but also invited the Illinoisan to a party where the entrepreneur could hobnob with some familiar faces, such as Tor Johnson.

A starstruck rube being played for a sap? Ordinarily, that might be a reasonable assumption. But re-read that last paragraph.

An ED WOOD PARTY.

Hell's bells, Mels and Isabels, if you'd rather attend a butt-munching backstabathon at Harry Warner's Beverly Hills mansion than a freakin' ED WOOD PARTY...Security! Throw this this this person out of my site at once. And don't spare the feet to yon ass.


A Stately Salute goes out to distributor Howard Axelman for providing the screener. Upcoming releases in the HoAx line include The Hunchback Of West Point and the 3-D version of King Kong Vs. Mothra. You should buy them both...and, of course, Curse Of The Dead.



Author's note: As always, you can see this review (and dozens of others) in its snazzy photo-illustrated version at ManorOnMovies.com.
Author: Stately Wayne Manor

 

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Last Updated: 18 March, 2006