Orgy of the Dead (1965) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Bob and his girlfriend Shirley go in search of a cemetery in order to inspire John for writing his next horror story. After they crash the car, they wander into the graveyard and encounter the dancing dead, a full moon spectacle overseen by the Ruler of the Dark. Before long the couple is spotted and taken prisoner. Tied to stakes and forced to watch the dancing, they await their fate.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film opens to two muscle-bound men dressed in loincloths approaching a crypt. They open the doors, revealing a coffin. They remove the lid and exit the crypt, then the inhabitant of the coffin (Criswell) sits up to deliver an opening narration.

    The opening credits feature the image of "an immobile young woman clad in gold". The image was probably inspired by a memorable scene of Goldfinger (1964).

    Following the credits, the camera shifts to a lone Chevrolet Corvair driving down a California desert road. Its passengers Bob (William Bates) and Shirley (Pat Barrington) are arguing over the decision to use this night to search for a cemetery. Bob is a horror writer who hopes that the scene of a cemetery at night will bring him inspiration. The conversation ends when Bob accidentally drives the car off the road and over a cliff. The next scene opens to a nocturnal image of a fog-shrouded cemetery. The lonely figure of the Emperor (Criswell) walks towards a marble altar, sits, and then summons his "Princess of the Night", the Black Ghoul (Fawn Silver), who appears and bows before him. The Emperor warns that if the night's entertainment fails to please him, he will banish the souls of the entertainers to eternal damnation, indicating that he is an all-powerful demonic being.

    As the full moon appears, the Black Ghoul summons the first dancer of the night, a Native American woman (Bunny Glaser). The Black Ghoul explains that this woman loved flames, and that both she and her lovers died in flames. The woman dances and strips before the flames of the cemetery. The Black Ghoul then introduces the second dancer of the night, a street walker in life. While the woman dances, Bob and Shirley make their way to the cemetery and start observing the dance from a distance. Shirley suspects that they are observing a college initiation, though Bob seriously doubts her theory.

    The Emperor himself summons the third dancer, a woman who worshiped gold above else. The Golden Girl (Pat Barrington) dances in her turn, and the Emperor instructs his loin-clothed servants to reward her with gold. The supposed reward is soon revealed to be a punishment, as the servants place her in a cauldron with liquid gold. What emerges from the cauldron is a golden statue of the living woman who entered. The servants transport the immobile statue to a nearby crypt.

    At this point, a werewolf (John Andrews) and mummy (Louis Ojena) appear and seize the intruding young couple. They are brought before the Emperor who decides to postpone deciding their fate. The intruders are tied up, side by side, and allowed to continue watching the dances. The Black Ghoul next introduces the fourth dancer, a "Cat Woman" (Texas Starr). She is depicted as a woman dressed in a leopard costume, which exposes her chest area. As she dances, a servant follows her around and thrashes her with a bullwhip. Offering a sadomasochistic show for the spectators.

    The Emperor next calls for a Slave Girl (Nadejda Dobrev) to be whipped for his amusement. The slave wears a tunic and is chained to a wall. Following her torture session, the Slave Girl breaks free and becomes the fifth dancer of the night. Later, the Black Ghoul exhibits a fascination with Shirley and scratches a mark on her. She draws a knife and seems about to kill Shirley, when the Emperor decides it is not yet time for the intruders to properly join them. The female ghoul reluctantly obeys.

    The Emperor is puzzled when a human skull appears instead of the next dancer. The Black Ghoul explains it is the symbol of the sixth dancer, who loved bullfighting and matadors. She used to dance over their demise, and now it's time to dance over her own. The dancer of apparent Spanish/Mexican heritage (Stephanie Jones) appears to perform. The Emperor and Ghoul briefly discuss the past of the dancer, who came to them on the Day of the Dead.

    The seventh dancer appears dressed in Polynesian garments. The Black Ghoul describes her as a worshiper of snakes, smoke, and flames. A rattlesnake is depicted along with her dance. The camera shifts to the mummy and the werewolf. The mummy voices his dislike of snakes and recalls the death of Cleopatra. He informs his companion that ancient Egypt had many snakes and they were the stuff of nightmares. The Emperor next expresses his boredom and demands "unusual" entertainment, while the Black Ghoul notes that the night is almost over. She reminds her superior that they will be gone at the first sight of the morning sun. They proceed to argue over the fate of Shirley.

    The argument ends with the introduction of the eighth dancer (Barbara Nordin), a woman who murdered her husband on their wedding night. She dances with the skeleton of her spouse. The argument over Shirley then resumes, as the Ghoul claims her for her own. The Emperor feels the need to assert his own authority over the Black Ghoul.

    The ninth dancer (Dene Starnes) was a zombie in life and remains zombie-like in death. The tenth and final dancer (Rene De Beau) is introduced as one who died for feathers, fur, and fluff. She starts her dance in clothing matching this style. When the final dance ends, the Emperor finally offers Shirley to the Ghoul. The Ghoul briefly dances herself as she prepares to claim her prize. But dawn arrives and with it sunlight. The Emperor and all his undead are reduced to bones.

    The final scene has Bob and Shirley waking up at the scene of the accident, surrounded by paramedics, suggesting it was all a dream. Criswell appears in his coffin to offer parting words to the audience.

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