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  Sinister Urge, The No Buts With Smut
Year: 1960
Director: Edward D. Wood Jr
Stars: Kenne Duncan, Duke Moore, Jean Fontaine, Carl Anthony, Dino Fantini, Jeanne Willardson, Harvey B. Dunn, Reed Howes, Fred Mason, Vic McGee, Harry Keaton, Conrad Brooks, Edward D. Wood Jr
Genre: Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: A woman dressed in her underwear runs panicking along this country road, desperately looking for help until she catches sight of a public telephone up ahead. Alas, when she reaches it she finds it out of order, and then it is too late for her as her pursuer looms up behind her and attacks, dragging her into the undergrowth, ravaging her and eventually killing her. A short time later her body is found, and the police are called: Lieutenant Carson (Kenne Duncan) believes he knows what is to blame. Pornography!

The Sinister Urge was writer and director Edward D. Wood Jr's last attempt at legitimate filmmaking, a try at getting the punters in by sensationalist means with the anti-porn theme. Which made it so ironic, and maybe a little bit sad, that soon after it was porn Wood was earning his money from, both softcore and, in his final efforts as director, hardcore. Here, however, he was taking the unconvincing moral high ground, playing up to the nation's righteous by pretending to hold up smut as the reason behind any crime you cared to name.

So here not only was pornography bad in and of itself, but also funded organised crime, provoked rape and murder, and sent teenagers brawling in the streets just so they could get their hands on it. Unfortunately for a filmmaker of Wood's uncertain calibre the message here was rendered hard to believe when the vehicle was so creaky and frankly laughable, not to mention the rather dubious sincerity it was presented with, as you could be forgiven for thinking the only reason Wood had adopted this subject was to hook audiences with the promise of sleaze rather than attend a dry lecture on it.

As Lt. Carson busies himself on the case, we are also privy to the comings and goings of the pornographers who the killer, Dirk (Dino Fantini), gets his supply from. Here naughty pictures and films are equated with drugs and their addiction, so the gangsters producing the merchandise could just as easily be shown to be pushing heroin as they were the then-illegal nudies. Not that their product looks especially appetising, as Wood offers us a glimpse of someone who looks like a Mexican wrestler with a whip being attended to by two scantily clad girls - I know it was a more restricted time but you'd have to be pretty desperate to get off on that.

But there was a hint of personal tragedy in Wood's reduced circumstances as he was beginning to live hand to mouth with the paltry cash his work was bringing in. On the office wall of the film's director Johnny Ryde (Carl Anthony) are three posters of Wood's own past movies - he even has a would-be starlet comment on them - a nod to how he was leaving such heartfelt tries at a proper career in mainstream Hollywood behind. But you can't spend too much time on how troubling its creator's life was growing when the ridiculous aspects of his oeuvre were still well to the fore here: take Carson's solution to prevent women from being attacked, a very Wood-esque path of dressing up a policeman in female attire so he can whomp the attacker. Now that popular culture has been pornalised anyway, maybe Ed should have taken a more positive view of these concerns, it might have endured further as less of a joke; which is sad as well. Music by Michael Terr.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Edward D. Wood Jr  (1924 - 1978)

American writer-director of trashy low budget movies, hailed as the worst director of all time by The Golden Turkey Awards and others. His interest in cross-dressing and angora sweaters informed Glen or Glenda, after which he turned to science fiction and horror - Bride of the Monster, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Night of the Ghouls - all starring his motley crew of friends (Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Criswell, et al).

Wood's career opportunities got worse as he drifted into writing softcore porn like Orgy of the Dead, and he eventually became an alcoholic. Sadly, he died just before receiving the peculiar adulation his eccentric movies deserved. Also the author of many pulp novels.

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