Good evening, Balkers! Tonight's Midnight Movie is the colorized version of Ed Wood's 1959 sci-fi horror cult classic Plan 9 from Outer Space, starring Maila "Vampira" Nurmi and Bela Lugosi (sort of). It has been dubbed both the worst movie ever made (though one of the most amusing) as well as the most famous B-movie of all time. Wikipedia writes: "The plot of the film ["originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space, or simply known as Plan 9"] involves 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 what modern audiences would consider zombies (called "ghouls" in the film itself) to get the planet's attention, causing chaos."
Share your thoughts and ghoulish whatnots in the comments, if you wish. Have a cozy evening, lovely weekend, and enjoy the show!
Plan 9 is considered by some critics, including Michael Medved, to be the worst film in the history of cinema. However, other reviews have rated the film more positively. A report from the review site Rotten Tomatoes found that 66% of critics gave the film positive reviews.Many of them stated that the film is simply too amusing to be considered the worst film ever made, claiming that its ineptitude added to its charm. There were also claims that the director managed to convey some interesting ideas. As of 2011, Plan 9 has failed to place in the IMDb Bottom 100, a list compiled using average scores given by Internet Movie Database users, though some of Wood's other movies have. In 1996, the film received a salute by author of the Cult Flicks and Trash Pics edition of VideoHound, in which it is stated that "The film has become so famous for its own badness that it's now beyond criticism."
Production and casting
The "iconic" flying saucer of the film has been variously identified as a paper plate or a hubcap. According to the documentary Flying Saucers Over Hollywood- The Plan 9 Companion (1991) it was actually a recognizable toy. In 1956, toy-manufacturer Paul Lindberg had introduced a plastic toy version of a flying saucer, roughly matching the popular image of the thing at the time: "a silver disc-shaped craft with a clear dome on top". Inside the dome was a little green man. Both a regular version of the toy and a somewhat modified one appear in the film.
The footage of Los Angeles is used to ground the outworldly events to a realistic setting. As a resident, Wood was probably familiar with the locations depicted. The scene where the military fires at the flying saucers uses stock footage from actual military activities.
The Reverend Lynn Lemon, who plays an unnamed minister, was one of the Baptists variously involved in the production of the film. J. Edward Reynolds was a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention in Beverly Hills, California, and Hugh Thomas was one of his associates from the church. Both play gravediggers. Reynolds was also the producer of the film. At the time of the film's creation, David De Mering was the personal secretary and alleged lover of fellow cast member Bunny Breckinridge. His inclusion in the cast was probably a result of this association.
According to Maila Nurmi, she was recruited by Paul Marco to act as a vampire in the film. She was offered 200 dollars for her part. She recalled insisting for her part to be silent, as she did not like the dialogue that Wood had scripted for her. This recollection might be inaccurate since the undead of this film are generally mute. What she contributed to the film was a "regal presence" and theatrical mannerisms. Her performance is reminiscent of a silent film actress. She credited Theda Bara as her main influence.
The male alien Eros is apparently named after Eros, Greek god of love. Going by theme naming, Craig suggests that the name of the female aliern, Tanna, might invoke the name of another Greek deity: Thanatos, god of death.
The Pentagon office depicted includes a map of the United States with the sign of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The same map appears in Baghdad After Midnight (1954), which was also filmed in Quality Studios. It was probably used as a standard prop of the Studios.
"Bela Lugosi's Last Movie"
Shortly before Bela Lugosi's death in August 1956, he had been working with Wood on numerous half-realized projects, variously titled Tomb of the Vampire or The Ghoul Goes West.Scenes unconnected to Plan 9, featuring Lugosi weeping at a funeral, walking in front of Tor Johnson's house at daytime, walking in and out of Johnson's side door at nighttime, and a daylight scene on a patch of scrubland near a highway showing Lugosi stalking towards the camera and dramatically spreading his Dracula cape before furling it around himself and walking off screen, had been shot. Only the first two sequences had reached any level of completion. When Lugosi died, Wood shelved these projects. It is not certain for which projects the Lugosi footage was intended, and Wood's own account of the affair in his written memoirs seems to suggest that the director had something like Plan 9 in mind when the material was filmed. This claim stands in apparent contradiction to the Vampires' Tomb/Ghoul Goes West theory, backed up by a comment Lugosi made about Ghoul being his next project in a filmed interview upon his release from drug rehabilitation.
Shortly after Lugosi's death the story and screenplay for Grave Robbers from Outer Space were written and finalised, with Wood planning to use the unconnected, unrelated footage of Lugosi as a means of putting a credit for him on the picture. Though Wood's actions were driven in part by the desire to give his film a 'star name' and attract horror fans, the Lugosi cameo was also meant as a loving tribute and farewell to the actor, who had become fast friends with Wood in the last three years of Lugosi's life. Wood hired his wife's chiropractor, Tom Mason, as a stand-in for Lugosi, even though Mason was taller than Lugosi and bore no resemblance to him, making him one of the earliest "fake Shemps." Narration from Criswell was also employed in an attempt to better link Lugosi's footage with the rest of Plan 9.
Coincidentally, further Lugosi footage Wood had shot at an unspecified pre-1956 date was to have been the basis of a second posthumous movie for the horror legend, titled Ghouls Of The Moon. The footage had, however, been shot on volatile nitrate stock, and had dissolved into toxic-smelling sludge by the time Wood's thoughts turned to the new venture in the summer of 1959. Ghouls Of The Moon was abandoned entirely as a result. Mystery surrounds the content and nature of the lost material, described only as 'wild' by a friend of Wood's who had seen the raw footage shortly after it was shot.
Ed Wood (Johnny Depp) and Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) in Tim Burton's 1994 Ed Wood biopic Ed Wood.