This LENGTHY description of today's film was yoinked from wikipedia and "The Life Of Edward D. Wood Jr." by Reverend Steve Galindo ...
"Plan 9 from Outer Space (originally titled as Grave Robbers from Outer Space) is a 1959 science fiction/horror film written and directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr. The film features Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson and Maila 'Vampira' Nurmi. The film bills Bela Lugosi posthumously as a star, although footage of the actor had been shot by Wood for another film just before Lugosi's death in 1956.
The plot of the film is focused on extraterrestrial beings who are seeking to stop humans from creating a doomsday weapon that would destroy the universe. In the course of doing so, the aliens implement Plan 9, a scheme to resurrect Earth's dead as zombies to get the planet's attention, causing chaos.
When people think of Ed Wood, they think of Plan 9 from Outer Space. Ed Wood has become an entity that cannot exist without thoughts of flying saucers on strings and cardboard tombstones falling to the floor.
First off, everything you have heard about the creation of Ed's most well known film is true.
Yes, Ed filmed a few fleeting shots of Bela in his Dracula cape right before he died and decided to work it into a script he had been working on so that he could bill the motion picture about heroic aliens resurrecting the dead as a last ditch attempt to get their anti-weapon message across as the last Bela Lugosi picture. He couldn't find normal backing for the picture so he conned the Baptist Church of Beverly Hills to front the cash only if the cast get baptized. So Ed did what he needed to do to get the picture done and got the entire cast baptized as baptists for the film. And yes there are spaceship models dangling on strings and yes there are dime store shower curtains as set pieces and yes there are falling cardboard tombstones. All of it is true.
Now for the truth behind the legend.
Lugosi was sick and near death and needed a thousand dollars so Ed shot a few seconds of him in his Dracula cape sneaking in and out of Tor Johnson's house. Sometime around then, Ed heard of an old, decrepit cemetery in Sacramento, California that was going to be demolished. So the two of them drove up to the site and moved the tombstones around so that he could get a few more hauntingly eerie shots of Bela prancing around in a deserted cemetery. Shortly afterward, Bela died and those fleeting scenes suddenly became frighteningly prophetic.
He decided to use these shots in a film called Grave Robbers from Outer Space. He custom tailored the script to better suit the people around him. Paul Marco and Conrad Brooks, two of Ed's disciples, became police officers. Paul's house guest John Breckinridge became the flamboyant Ruler. Vampira, falling on hard times and desperate for cash but still proud enough to not want to be seen in an Ed Wood film, became the dead mute wife of Lugosi. Friends and acquaintances and secretaries became aliens and pilots and mourners. The only problem was the cash, never a strong suit with Eddie.
He wanted the film to seem authentic. A longtime fan of Orson Wells, he wanted his alien epic to have the feel of Wells' alien epic War of the Worlds and he did this by adding Charles Criswell King, a newscaster turned psychic, as the narrator of an apparently true tale of "the miserable souls who survives this terrifying ordeal." Criswell's bizarre delivery of overly-serious dialogue adds the perfect blend of creepy comedy madness to Ed's already strange science fiction masterpiece.
Now all he needed was money.
Around this time, Ed and Kathy decided to move in together. So they moved into the Mariposa Apartments where the manager also happened to be one of the leaders of the Baptist Church of Beverly Hills, J. Edward Reynols, and he had recently acquired the rights to produce the biopic of Billy Sunday, the 1920s baseball sensation and evangelical preacher. Reynolds had only a small fraction of the budget needed to produce the film so Wood convinced him that if Reynolds would take that money and put into his latest film that he would make so much money that they would be able to form a corporation that would be able to produce uplifting religious films such as The Billy Sunday Story.
Reynolds demanded that before any money changed hands that Ed and his entire crew get baptized. Ed, willing to go to any lengths to find financial backing, agreed. Ed urged Kathy to get baptized with him but she refused. The film is universally known throughout society, thanks in part to the book 'The Golden Turkey Awards' as the worst movie of all time. But that is simply untrue.
First off, all the acting isn't bad. It's easy to point to Tor Johnson and laugh at the bad acting but the truth of the matter is that there are a handful of honestly good performances in this film. Thankfully we are spared Dolores Fuller and her horrid dead corpse style of acting in this film seeing as she had long since broken up with Eddie at this point and good riddance. Gregory Walcott, who plays Jeff Trent, is an incredibly powerful and talented actor in the film and John "Bunny" Breckinridge is flamboyant but entertaining and believable as the head alien ruler. The scene near the beginning of the film where Vampira exits the crypt with her long nails extended towards the camera is hauntingly eerie.
Also, the script for Plan 9 is a shockingly liberal one if you look beyond the hip chat room film flubs. The good guys are the aliens that the ignorant, hot-headed Americans destroy near the end of the film. The cops are ineffectual whiners. And the government and the military are portrayed as petty and inept and immature. For a science-fiction film released in 1959, that's some pretty rebellious stuff. Most films released around the Plan 9 era were bland, predictable, archetypal good guy United State Military defeat evil communist-ish aliens films. For a film to be released in this era to have the guts to reverse the good guy/bad guy roles is nothing short of phenomenal.
And here's a few excellent useless facts for you to whip out in bars and at parties - Bela Lugosi was found dead with an Ed Wood script in his hand. The name of the script? The Final Curtain. Ed Wood was assisted with the editing of the film by director Phil Tucker, the man who created the horribly atrocious film Robot Monster, which in all honesty is the REAL worst film of all time. And the music prevalent throughout the film is actually the song 'Iron Foundry' from the Russian composer Mossolov.
Ed felt that, if you want to get to know him, you should watch Glen or Glenda but Plan 9 from Outer Space was his pride and joy, no question about it. Don't let the Tim Burton film fool you on this one. He knew that the film was cheesy. He knew that the effects weren't that great and that the acting wasn't too wonderful. It's well documented that at the Plan 9 premiere at the Carlton Theater on March 15th, 1957 everyone had a good laugh at the bad special effects and the film flubs and everyone had a good time.
It would be another year before DCA (Distributors Corp. of America) picked the film up and copyrighted it, intending to distribute it during the Spring of 1958, but the company folded and it was not released until July 1959 through Valiant Pictures, the receiver of DCA. By then the film had been retitled as Plan 9 from Outer Space. The original title is referenced at the end of Criswell's opening narration, when he asks the audience, "Can your heart stand the shocking facts about grave robbers from outer space?" Like many independent films of the period, Plan 9 was distributed under a states rights basis. Not long thereafter, the picture was distributed through a television package.
Ed knew the film wasn't perfect but that didn't matter. What mattered was the effort. He didn't work harder on a single film in his life. He worked more and sacrificed more for Plan 9 from Outer Space than he did for any other film before or after that. Our society focuses too heavily on money and box office receipts and exactly how much money did this film make on these days and so on. In that sense, the film did poorly and languished in small release and made extremely little money.
But the true story of Plan 9 lies years later when a new generation resurrected Ed's pride and joy and laughed and appreciated it and became the new Woodian audience. In his later years, Ed was known to call everyone he knew late at night when they would show his film on some UHF horror show. He would get exuberant as a child in a candy store. It was as if he knew that, though the film was quickly deemed a failure, that one day it would be a success."
Steve's Snacks Of The Week:
Little Wieners In A Can
...and NOW, in honor of Woodmas, the day our savior Eddie Wood was born, Reverend Steve Galindo is once again PROUD to bring you a number of ways for you to enjoy today's movie.
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