I First Encountered Orgy of the Dead

I first encountered Orgy of the Dead not as a movie, but as a soundtrack CD featuring, I figured, most of the film's music and a berserk bounty of Ed Wood's somnambulant dialogue. As an audio-only experience the movie is a marvel for the mind's eye, a march-past of imagery in occult profusion, a nudie-cutie parade collaged out of thin air in the typewriter-ribbon dreams of a screenwriter drunk on non sequitur. After listening to the CD about a hundred times I treated myself to the strange thrill of watching for the first time a DVD of the movie I knew so intimately, and seeing for the first time the onscreen sources of sounds and music that had become ritual to me. So now I possess two versions of the movie, the masterpiece shot on film in 1965, which is one of the most exquisite viewing pleasures I know, and the one collaged together in my head during those early aural days. Yes, I was wrong, the actual Orgy of the Dead is utterly different than what I imagined it would be, but thankfully both versions are still available to me. For that I count myself blessed. Now, a third version of Orgy aspires to assert itself, through the medium of the assorted collages arrayed here, a series I created by permitting almost random collisions between one magazine image and another, pasted together in a delirium I contrived in an attempt to approximate the mental state of Ed Wood himself. Yes, I failed at my endeavour to attain the Poverty Row nirvana that was Wood's, my collage pieces are obvious proof of a misfire. But there is pleasure in failure, maybe even beauty. I need to believe that.

Guy Maddin Collages


Guy Maddin has directed twelve feature-length movies, including The Forbidden Room (2015), My Winnipeg (2007), The Saddest Music in the World (2003), and innumerable shorts. He has also mounted around the world over seventy performances of his films featuring live elements – orchestra, sound effects, singing and narration, most recently The Green Fog (2017), accompanied live by the Kronos Quartet. Twice Maddin has won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Experimental Film, with Archangel (1991) and The Heart of the World (2001). He has been bestowed many other awards, including the Telluride Silver Medal in 1995, the San Francisco International Film Festival’s Persistence of Vision Award in 2006, and an Emmy for his ballet film Dracula – Pages from a Virgin’s Diary (2002). The Green Fog won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Experimental film award for 2018. In 2015 The Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York featured the collage work of Maddin and poet John Ashbery in a two person show. Maddin was a visiting lecturer in film at Harvard University 2015-2018. He is also a member of The Order of Canada.