Gets Better Every Time ...
Nothing Guilty About This Pleasure: Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
First of all, when was this "made"?? Ed Woodists (or is it Woodites?) would know. He had precious Lugosi footage to insert with cooked-up afterward narrative, an adroit pasting to prove Ed was no fool. I'll say this so as not to be misunderstood: Plan 9 is to me a richly entertaining film, not at all a "Guilty Pleasure" or "So Bad It's Good." I'd even aver it's well made for the virtual home movie it is. There is camera movement, and hanged if so-called bad acting doesn't seem planned. Did Wood and company anticipate and allow for an emerging late show audience that would laugh more with them than at them? The snark wasn't underway until the 70's and Medved deconstruction, but fun with silly sci-fi had been going on twenty years at least by that time, only it was somehow kinder starting out. Plan 9 was primarily a TV experience in any case, being tube-available almost immediately after, if not before, what little theatre exposure it had.
Could Lugosi's estate have come after Eddie for releasing what amounted to off-cuff footage never intended for placement in a feature? At least I assume Bela wasn't doing anything other than vamping on camera for a project far from set. These final glimpses of him are marvelous; he's "acting" to extent of barely knowing what the heck Wood had in mind, this testament again to Lugosi charisma at the ready even in someone's back yard (in this case, I'm told it was Tor Johnson's front yard). And then, of course, there is Tor, who was a towering presence (how's that for stating the obvious?). I love his dialogue and wish there'd been reams more ... an Inspector Clay series perhaps? What about Tor as Clay in a clinch with Audrey Totter in an Alex Gordon production written and directed by Ed Wood? The mouth waters.
The guy who played "Kelton The Cop" used to show up at autograph fairs still wearing the policeman's uniform ... forty years later. There's grandeur at this level of living in a past. Why didn't I shake his hand and tell him how great he was? There seems no one left of Plan 9's company save Gregory Walcott, who actually lives here in North Carolina, which pleases me for knowing I could drive down and tell him how great he was in Plan 9. The film's making is deathless folklore. I could begin reading today and not get through it all before next week (or month), so perhaps it's better leaving behind-camera detail alone. The Ed Wood rabbit hole is one from which we emerge somehow be-sullied, at the least newly committed not to let such a life as his engulf us. Wood and the world he occupied belong to a seeming million yesterdays ago, or at least it feels that way watching Plan 9 From Outer Space. Maybe that accounts in part for its greatness.