Monday, July 29, 2019

The Orville Interactive Fan Experience

This week UK software development company Messy Desk Interactive released The Orville Interactive Fan Experience.

It's a comprehensive 3D recreation of The Orville's titular spacecraft. Players can freely explore various areas on every deck of the ship, and even interact with control panels with your customized avatar!

I tried it out, and I have to say it's pretty darned cool! They've meticulously recreated the show's sets in precise detail. The walls & floors aren't just flat, but are covered in 3D textures as well. There's even an option to animate the readouts on the various screens!

They used all the sound effects from the show too. And even incorporated music from the show. Best of all, the music is reactive. Take the ship to red alert and the music suddenly becomes urgent and militaristic! Amazing!

Keep in mind this is an early version of an ongoing project, so it's not complete. They haven't built every area of the ship yet, so some doors won't open. Eventually they'll have the entire thing mapped out though.

You can visit the Bridge and sit in the captain's chair. Order a red or yellow alert, or activate "party mode" and send the whole ship into a dance frenzy! 

You can even sit at Gordon's position and take the ship out for a spin! I ain't quite figured out how to actually fly it yet, but I'm told it is possible.

Visit Captain Mercer's quarters...

Take a tour of Sickbay...

Or wander through Engineering.

You can visit the Shuttlebay as well. There's even a shuttle sitting in the bay (labeled ECV-197-1 of course). You can walk inside the shuttle, but for now all you can do is sit in the pilot's chair and open the bay doors. Eventually you'll be able to actually fly the shuttle out of the ship and zoom around. That's for a future upgrade though.

One other thing about the Shuttlebay... Messy Desk even included the infamous "pee corner" from Identity, Part 2! Now THAT'S attention to detail!

As I mentioned above, your avatar can interact with numerous objects and locations. For example, if you go to the mess hall you can activate the replicators, er, I mean the Food Synthesizers and whip up various objects and dishes.

As you may have noticed, this virtual Orville's a lonely little ship, completely devoid of life. I'm told that eventually they plan to populate it with other crew members.

The best thing about this simulation— Fox is aware of it and apparently OK with it! 

See, last year a group called Stage 9 created a virtual Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Users could explore every deck (including areas not seen on the series), interact with controls and fly shuttles out of the ship— pretty much exactly like the Orville simulation.

NOTE: I've been told that Messy Desk, the group who made The Orville Interactive Fan Experience, are an offshoot of Stage 9, who made the Enterprise-D sim. That explains why the two look virtually identical!

The developers weren't making a dime off it either, as it was purely a labor of love and free for the downloading.

Unfortunately CBS, the current owners of all things Trek, decided to be assholes and shut down the whole project. Not sure how you can tell someone who's making something for fun and not profiting off it to cut it out, but they did.

To me this just shows how out of touch CBS is. Fans were willing to spend hours and hours creating more Star Trek, simply because they love it so much. CBS' actions were a big slap in the face to everyone who ever liked the show.

Luckily, Seth MacFarlane and Fox know the value of fan projects like this. In fact when MacFarlane first saw this virtual Orville, he pretty much said, "Wow, cool!" No shutdown, no cease & desist letters, just a heartfelt endorsement. Well done, Seth!

If you're interested, you can download The Orville Interactive Fan Experience over at Steam, which is apparently some kind of gaming site I'm vaguely aware of. I figured out how to download it and get it up and running in about half an hour. If I can do it, anyone can, so check it out today!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Trump Sucks— Literally!


When I first saw this image, I thought for sure it was a bit from The Onion or some similar parody site. Sadly, it's all too real. You can see it over on the official trump website.

So trump, the "common" candidate who claims he's just like the everyday working man, is selling a pack of ten self-branded plastic straws for a whopping $15— plus applicable sales tax and shipping, which will likely add at least another five bucks to the total.

Note that according to the site, shipping takes twelve to fourteen business days (!). Jesus Jetskiing Christ, are you kidding me? Amazon can literally send a package to my door the day after I order it, but it takes over two weeks for trump to ship a tiny box of straws? Ladies and gentlemen, our government in action!

According to the site, these aren't just any old plastic straws, laws no. These are high-end implements, with a host of luxurious features:

 BPA Free (I have my doubts about that, as they're probably riddled with lead as well)

 Reusable & Recyclable (pretty funny, coming from the president who routinely allows oil drilling in Federally protected parks)

 9" long (subtlety, thy name is donald j. trump!)
 Pack of 10 identical straws as shown (now THERE'S a feature worth calling out!)
 Laser engraved (woah, what is this, the 30th Century?)
 Made in USA (I would absolutely not be surprised to find these were made in a Cambodian sweatshop)

By far my favorite thing about this ridiculous product is the reason it exists in the first place. According to the website, "Liberal paper straws don't work." Because only a filthy, tree-hugging, hemp-smoking, left-leaning liberal would ever use a substandard PAPER straw! Real god-fearing, flag-lovin, wall-wanting Americans would never been seen in public with anything but a PLASTIC straw!

Jesus wept.

Welcome to the death of comedy, folks. There's no way writers can possibly come up with bits to compete with the current state of our world.

Where No Divorce Lawyer Has Gone Before

Back in January of this year, I reviewed The Orville episode All The World Is Birthday Cake.

In that post, I noted the happy news that actors Adrianne Palicki (who plays Kelly) and Scott Grimes (who plays Gordon) were engaged. Huzzah! 

I congratulated the happy couple on their good news, but I went on to say this:

I hate to even bring this up, but let's hope the two stay together. There are whispered rumors that a relationship gone sour between MacFarlane and Halston Sage is what prompted Alara to be written off the show. Maybe MacFarlane needs to institute a No Fraternization Policy on the set.

Wow. How frighteningly prescient.

Palicki and Grimes were married in May 2019. Here's a shot of the happy couple at their wedding, which took place in Austin, Texas for some reason.

Annnnnnnnd here we are in July 2019, and Adrianne Palicki's filed for divorce from Scott Grimes. They're calling it quits after two whole months of marriage!

No reason was given for the breakup. This was Grimes' third marriage though, so odds are the blame lies with him. Who knows though.

I feel bad for the couple of course, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about what this news means for the show. The "official" reason given for Halston Sage's departure from the series is that she wanted to star in a film. But there are unsubstantiated but oddly believable rumors that she left due to a bad breakup with The Orville creator Seth MacFarlane. 

I hope this divorce doesn't mean that either Kelly or Gordon will be written out next. I like both characters, and their absence would leave a large and damaging hole in the cast. 

Hopefully the two actors can be professional and continue to work together. I'd hate for them to never share a scene together again.

Hey, The Orville cast members! Keep it in your pants! Even I know that fraternizing with co-workers is a terrible, terrible idea that rarely if ever works out. Have fun on the set, but go your separate ways at quitting time! Everyone knows you don't dip your pen in the company ink well!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

It Came From The Cineplex: Midsommar

Midsommar was written and directed by Ari Aster. 

Aster previously wrote & directed Hereditary.

It's hard to believe that Midsommar is only Aster's second theatrical film! If I didn't know better, I'd say it's the work of a highly experienced filmmaker with a dozen movies under his belt. He's an amazingly competent talent.

Like Aster's previous film, Midsommar is more unsettling and disturbing than it is scary. In a way that's actually worse. A horror film's frights are quickly forgotten, often by the time you get back from the cineplex. Movies like this stick with you for much longer, as they get under your skin and stay with you for days.

If I had to come up with one complaint about Midsommar, it's that it's a little... predictable. When I watched Hereditary, I literally had no idea where its plot was going. It managed to surprise me at every turn (well, until it fell apart late in the third act). 

Sadly, Midsommar follows the "Outsiders Encounter Creepy Cult" template pretty much to the letter. It features the same basic plot as Witchfinder General, The Blood On Satan's Claw and of course the grandaddy of all evil cult films, The Wicker Man (the original 1973 one, not the Nicolas Cage abomination). There are few if any surprises, as the story unfolds exactly as you expect it to.

That said, it's not completely without merit. It features some wonderful cinematography and amazing performances, especially by Florence Pugh as main character Dani Ardor. She does a great job portraying a young woman who's losing the last vestiges of her old self as she slowly goes insane.

So far the film's grossed a paltry $28 million (worldwide!) against its minuscule $10 million budget. Whoever thought it'd be a good idea to release it in the middle of the crowded summer blockbuster season needs fired, stat. This is most definitely a February or October movie, and would have done much better during those periods. On the other hand, Hereditary was released in June as well, and managed to rack up $79 million, so what do I know?


The Plot:
Dani Ardor (played by Florence Pugh) is a nervous, emotionally needy college student who's dating Christian Hughes (played by Jack Reynor). Christian's exhausted by the constant drama in Dani's life, and wants to break up with her. His pals Mark (played by Will Poulter), Josh and Pelle urge him to do so. Pelle's from Sweden and invites the guys to come visit his hometown, assuring them they'll meet lots of beautiful women there.

Just as Christian's about to give Dani the heave-ho, she calls him in hysterics. Her bipolar sister killed her parents and herself, leaving Dani alone in the world. Christian then feels obligated to stay with her, mechanically comforting her as she sobs uncontrollably.

Sometime later Dani finds out about the trip to Sweden, and wonders why Christian didn't tell her about it. He reluctantly invites her to come along, which angers Josh and Mark. Pelle's all for it though, telling Dani about his village of Harga and the upcoming Midsommar festival (Houston, we have a title!). He consoles Dani by saying he knows what she's going through, as his parents were killed in a fire when he was a child (Plot Point!).

Cut to the group arriving in Sweden. They drive for several hours, eventually arriving at the remote, tiny village Harga. There they meet Pelle's brother Ingemar, who's brought a young British couple named Simon and Connie to visit. Ingemar offers the group mushrooms, and everyone but Dani eats them and begins tripping. Dani's offered some herbal tea, which causes her to hallucinate. She freaks out and runs into the woods, where she passes out and has a nightmare about her parents

Dani wakes next to Christian, who says she was out for six hours. She says that's not possible, as the sun hasn't moved since she last saw it. Pelle offers a half-hearted explanation that this is normal in such a northern locale. Pelle then shows the group around the small village, explaining their various customs. He says they're lucky they arrived when they did, as the nine day Midsommar Festival only occurs once every ninety years.

Josh, who's writing his thesis on the Harga, spots a yellow triangular building at the edge of the village and asks what's inside. Pelle says "It's not for them," and shows everyone the communal building where they'll be staying. Pelle explains that their lives are divided into four "seasons." From birth to 18 they're considered children, from 18 to 36 they embark on a pilgrimage, 36 to 54 is the "summer" of their lives, and from 54 to 72 they're considered elders. Dani asks what happens after someone reaches age 72, and Pelle jokingly makes the "throat cutting" gesture (another Plot Point!).

Sometime later the group participates in the festivities, sitting in a circle as villagers dance around them. A young woman named Maja playfully kicks Christian and she dances by him, getting his attention. Dani looks on disapprovingly. Pelle asks if she's OK, and Dani admits that it's her birthday, and Christian forgot about it. Later Pelle brings her a piece of cake.

The next day Dani and the others join the villagers for a huge feast. Maja serves Christian a glass of tea, which is noticeably redder than everyone else's (implying she spiked it with her menstrual blood as a love potion!). Two elders, a male and female, are wheeled out to the table as guests of honor.

After the feast everyone gathers under a high cliff. The villagers begin chanting and breathing loudly, as Dani and the others wonder what's going on. Suddenly the two elders hobble to the edge of the cliff. The Elder Woman leaps off, landing on a boulder far below and smashing her face to a pulp. 

The outsiders are shocked and appalled. The Elder Man then jumps as well, but instead of dying instantly he shatters his legs. He moans in agony, and the villagers begin mimicking his cries. One of the villagers carries a massive sledgehammer over to the Elder Man, and smashes his skull flat.

Simon and Connie decide they've had enough and announce they're leaving. A villager named Siv explains to the outsiders that this is a time-honored Harga ritual. She says they feel it's better to end their lives at age 72 rather than grow old and infirm and become a burden on the community.

A visibly upset Dani runs back to her room. Pelle follows and tries to comfort her. She tells him to back off, fearing Christian might walk in. Pelle asks if Christian is really that important to her. Later that night Dani has nightmares about her late family.

The next morning Connie packs her bags and tells Dani she and Simon are leaving. She's furious when a villager tells her that Simon left earlier to buy train tickets, and said he'd send a car for her. She can't understand why he'd leave her alone, and heads out on foot to catch up with him. 

Meanwhile, Josh takes notes on the Harga customs for his thesis. Christian enters and says he's decided to do his thesis about the Harga as well. This angers Josh, who's been working on his project for months. Christian suggests they collaborate, but Josh tells him to get lost.

Inside the village temple, an Elder shows Josh one of their sacred texts. He says all of them were written by inbred villagers, who are considered seers. The most recent text was written by a horribly deformed villager named Ruben, who's the product of incest but is viewed as a seer. Josh asks if he can take photos of the text, but the Elder forbids it.

Elsewhere, Mark wanders around the village and pees on a fallen tree. A Harga named Ulf sees him and flies into a rage. He says for centuries they've buried the ashes of their Elders under the fallen tree. In effect, Mark just pissed on hundreds of years worth of Elders. Mark apologizes, but Ulf's so upset he breaks down in tears, and has to be comforted by the other villagers.

Christian sees Ruben, and asks a villager if incest is accepted in Harga. The villager says it's not frowned upon, but they preserve their gene pool by bringing in new blood from outside (yet another Plot Point!). Just then Christian hears a bloodcurdling scream in the distance, that sounds suspiciously Connie-like. The villagers go about their business as if they didn't hear anything.

A second feast is held, and Mark's uneasy when he sees Ulf glaring at him. Dani asks if anyone's seen Connie, and a Harga man says a villager drove her to the train station earlier that day. A beautiful young Harga girl then beckons to Mark, and leads him away from the feast.

Late that night, Josh sneaks into the temple, determined to snap some photos of the sacred text. He hears a noise and sees what appears to be Mark standing behind him. Suddenly he's clocked in the back of the head with a rock and collapses. Ulf, wearing Mark's face like a mask (!!!!), watches as Josh is dragged away.

The next morning, a villager tells Dani and Christian that their sacred text has been stolen, and Josh and Mark are missing. Christian says he doesn't know anything about it, but is willing to help look for the book.

Dani's invited to a competition, in which she and dozens of other girls will dance around a maypole. The last one standing will be crowned May Queen. Dani begins dancing with the others, who drop out one by one. Dani's given an herbal tea, and finds she can suddenly speak and understand Swedish. After hours of dancing, Dani's the last one left and is crowned May Queen.

Meanwhile, Christian meets with a female Elder who says it's been decided he'll mate with Maja. He's given more drugged tea and led into a building, where a dozen naked women stand around a nude Maja sprawled on the floor. He has sex with Maja, as the women watch and mimic her moans of pleasure.

Dani hears the moaning and marches to the building, where she sees Christian drilling Maja in front of an audience. She runs back to the communal building, where she has a mental breakdown. As she wails and rocks back and forth, the other women join her, until they're all in perfect sync with their new queen.

Meanwhile, Christian finishes up with Maja. He snaps out of his trance, and realizing what he's done, flees the building completely naked. While looking for a place to hide, he discovers Josh's leg sticking up out of a garden. He runs into a shed, where he sees Simon dangling from the ceiling, his still-functioning lungs hanging outside his body (a form of punishment called the "blood eagle"). A panicked Christian exits the shed and runs into a villager, who blows powder in his face. Once again he's drugged and knocked out.

The next day (I guess?), there's another ceremony. Dani sits in a place of honor on a stage, peering out of a massive cloak made of flowers. Several Elders sit on the stage as well. Christian, now completely paralyzed from the drug, is parked in a wheelchair at the foot of the stage.

An Elder announces that per their tradition, nine people must be sacrificed during the Midsommar festival. The nine must consist of two elders, four outsiders, two volunteers from the village, and one chosen by the May Queen. To no one's surprise, Dani picks Christian.

The villagers disembowel a live bear and place Christian
— who's unable to move or speak— inside its skin. They then set him on a pyre inside the yellow triangular building. They bring in the corpses of Josh, Mark, Simon and Connie as well. The two villager volunteers enter and sit beside the bodies, as the building's set on fire.

The volunteers scream in pain as they're consumed by flame. The other villagers moan and flail about in imitation of them. We slowly zoom in on Dani, as a terrifying smile spreads across her face. She's finally found a new home and family here, as she loses the last remnants of her sanity.

Midsommar had an extremely short production period, premiering barely a year after being filming began. In fact it was greenlit on May 18, 2018, just a month before Aster's previous film Hereditary was premiered on June 8, 2018.

• Ari Aster seems to have a thing for verbal tics. 

In Hereditary the strange & disturbed Charlie character had a habit of making a "tock" noise by clucking her tongue. In Midsommar many of the villagers make a ritualistic sound by rapidly and loudly inhaling and exhaling.

• Is Dani's last name (Ardor) meant as a joke? The word "ardor" means "enthusiasm or passion." That doesn't seem to describe her character, as she's more needy and obsessive than passionate. Maybe it's just a coincidence and doesn't signify  anything.

• Speaking of coincidences— there's a 2003 movie called Midsommar, complete with the same Swedish spelling (!). In it, the main character's named Christian (!!), and has a younger sister who kills herself (!!!). In order to get over the ordeal, his friends take him on a trip to Sweden (!!!!). The group ends up encountering a supernatural presence during a folk festival.

OK, so it's not exactly the same, but there are a suspicious amount of similarities. Did Ari Aster know about the earlier film? Is Midsommar 2019 a stealth remake? Did Aster swipe the idea from the 2003 movie? Or is the whole thing just an amazing coincidence?

• Apropos of nothing, two of the stars of Midsommar— Jack Reynor and Will Poulter— previously worked together in a film called Glassland. The movie also starred Toni Collette, who turned in a gut-wrenching performance in Aster's Hereditary

I was wracking my brain trying to figure out where I'd seen Reynor before. Turns out he starred in 2018's Kin.

• Aster gives the movie a disorienting quality, mostly through the use of night & day. When the outsiders first arrive, they're enjoying the beautiful noonday sun, and are surprised to learn it's 9pm. Pelle explains that's just the way things work at their particular latitude.

Later on though it's clearly nighttime when the characters are sleeping in their bunkhouse, and when Josh is sneaking into the temple. Why, it's almost as if it only gets dark in Harga when the script needs it to!

When the group first approaches the village, Aster ramps up the sense of disorientation by filming the scene upside down. It's a ridiculously simple idea, but it really does give the shot a confusing, off-kilter quality.

Midsommar features a ton of pretty blatant foreshadowing, much of it in the form of Swedish folk art. In fact the film begins with a panning shot of a tapestry whose imagery literally spells out the entire plot!

There's also a humorous look at a tapestry that shows women how to create a love potion by stirring their pubic hair clippings into a glass of tea (!). Shortly after we see this tapestry, Maja offers Christian a refreshing beverage, and after taking a drink of it he spits out a hair!

We also see a tapestry depicting the May Queen ritual.

Of course at the end of the movie we see the tapestry come to life, as Dani becomes the village's newest May Queen.

• The foreshadowing's not limited to just Swedish tapestries. In Dani's apartment we see a painting of a little girl taming a ferocious bear.

Later in the village, the outsiders walk past a live bear in a cage.

 Of course the bear's significance becomes apparent at the end, when its body's hollowed out and Christian's placed inside it as part of the sacrifice ritual.

• When they first arrive in Harga, Pelle tells Dani and the others that the Midsommar Festival happens once every ninety years. That's clearly not true though, as Dani finds a wall filled with dozens of photos of past May Queens. How could there be that many if they're only crowned once a century (give or take)?

There are a couple of ways to reconcile this seeming goof. Maybe the May Queen ceremony's an annual event, and is separate from the Midsommar Festival. Maybe Pelle's grasp of English isn't perfect, and he meant this is the 90th Festival. Or maybe he's just a big fat liar, who'd say anything to bring in fresh meat for the ritual.

• The trailer features a very quick shot of Reuben, a monstrously deformed inbred Harga villager. If you're expecting to play a major role in the film (as I was), you're in for a let-down. Reuben literally appears for a grand total of ten seconds in the movie. In fact I think there may be more shots of him in the trailer than in the actual film.

• Speaking of Reuben, the village elders consider him some sort of oracle or seer. The elders encourage him to write in the sacred texts, which they then study.

At one point we get a brief shot of one of Reuben's "writings," and it literally looks like a child's finger painting. An Elder explains to a quizzical Josh that Reuben's writings must be pored over and "interpreted."

Hey, Reuben's scribbles look like they make about as much sense as most religious texts!

• Shortly after the outsiders arrive in the village, Simon sees a group of kids singing and chanting. Pelle explains that they're playing a game called "Skin The Fool."

Later after Mark offends the villagers by peeing on their sacred tree, he's abducted and skinned alive. Ulf even wears Mark's face like a mask! At the end of the movie, the empty husk of Mark's body's placed in the yellow temple (with all the other sacrifices) and set on fire.

• Even though the Elders' deaths were heavily telegraphed well in advance, it was still shocking when they both leaped to their deaths as part of the Midsommar festivities.

By the way, if you ever decide to ritualistically end your life at age seventy two by leaping from a cliff, jump off head first. If you jump feet first like the male Elder, you're gonna have a bad time.

• After witnessing the suicides, Dani wants to leave Harga. Pelle tries to comfort her, saying he understands her pain over the loss of her family. He says his parents were killed in a fire when he was a child, so he knows what she's going through.

Based on the events at the end of the movie, it seems likely that Pelle's parents were burned alive in an earlier Festival.

• Dani & Christian are trapped in a remote, isolated village somewhere in Sweden, they've just witnessed a horrifying ritual suicide and several of their friends and acquaintances have gone missing. So it only makes sense for them to drink every strange herbal concoction offered to them by the weirdo villagers!

Midsommar features a nice bit of symmetry at the beginning and end of the film. Early in the movie, Dani learns that her sister killed herself and their parents. She wails mournfully as Christian halfheartedly holds her, barely interested enough to utter a halfhearted "There, there."

At the end of the film, Dani, who's now been crowned May Queen, sees Christian cheating on her with Maja. She runs to the dorm, where once again she wails mournfully. This time though, her loyal subjects are with her, and they emphasize totally with her. They match her cries until they're all in perfect sync.

This causes Dani to realize that the villagers are now her family, much more so than anyone in the real world ever was, and is the main reason why she loses her mind and becomes one of them.

Midsommar doesn't quite reach the heights of its predecessor, but it's still a reasonably well-made sophomore effort. What it lack in actual horror it more than makes up for in disturbing and unsettling imagery. Sadly, it's plot is highly predictable, as it's very similar to every "evil cult" movie ever made. Still worth a look though. I give it a B-.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Not-So-Modern Art

Recently I was going through boxes of old photos & papers at my parents' house, and I found this. It's the earliest known drawing by me! According to the writing on the back, I created this masterpiece when I was all of two years old.

Obviously this was done during the Blue Period of my abstract phase. Trouble is, I'm not quite sure whether it's right side up or not.

I think it'd fit in pretty well in a museum, if I do say so myself!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Happy 60th Birthday To Plan 9 From Outer Space!

Happy 60th Anniversary to Ed Wood's timeless masterpiece, Plan 9 From Outer Space. It premiered on July 22, 1959.

Over the years, Plan 9 has gained the reputation of being "The Worst Movie Ever Made." It is no such thing. Heck, I've seen worse movies so far this year! Sure, it's poorly written, directed and acted and inept in every measurable sense, but damn if it isn't entertaining. And in the end, isn't that a movie's job? The worst sin a film can commit is to be boring, and Plan 9 is anything but. I've seen it at least fifty times, and I never get tired of it. 

I'd rather watch a continuous loop of Plan 9 for the rest of my life than ever see a single frame of The Happytime Murders or The Bye Bye Man ever again.

In honor of the movie's anniversary, here are a few facts about the production:

 The film was actually shot in 1956, but it took three years to find a distributor who'd agree to even touch it.

 Plan 9 was originally titled Grave Robbers From Outer Space. The film was financed by a group of Baptist ministers, who objected to the "lurid" title. Wood changed it to appease them.

 The movie opens with an introduction from famed TV psychic Criswell. At the time he had his on weekly show (Criswell Predicts) on KLAC TV in LA, in which he'd make ridiculous and wildly inaccurate predictions.

Criswell's most famous line in the film is, "Future events such as these will affect you in the future." For years I just assumed that was an example of Ed Wood's less than elegant dialogue. Nope! Apparently that was Criswell's own personal catchphrase, and he used it in interviews, columns and on his show.

 Plan 9 famously features horror movie legend Bela Lugosi in a "non-starring" role. Ed Wood befriended Lugosi in his twilight years, and made several movies with him.

Wood shot footage of Lugosi puttering around Tor Johnson's home, with no real script in mind. Sadly, Lugosi died a few months later. Unwilling to let this precious footage go to waste, Wood wrote an entire screenplay around it, and Plan 9 was born.

Unfortunately there just wasn't enough footage of Lugosi to satisfy the demands of the script. In order to flesh out Lugosi's storyline, Wood hired his wife's chiropractor Tom Mason to replace him. 

This was an odd choice to say the least, as Mason was a good foot taller than Lugosi and had completely different colored hair. Mason stepped into the role by holding his cape in front of his face to obscure his features. The effect is completely seamless.

 Actress Maila Nurmi stars in the film as "The Vampire Girl." Nurmi also played Vampira, a TV horror host on a local LA station. Years later she sued actress Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira, for appropriating her goth chick shtick. Sadly, a judge ruled against Nurmi, allowing Elvira to pretty much steal her act.

Nurmi was paid a whopping $200 for her role. Supposedly she was less than impressed with Wood's dialogue, and agreed to take the part on the condition that she not speak.

Nurmi reportedly put on her Vampira makeup and costume at home, then rode the bus in full regalia to the studio to shoot Plan 9.

 Pro Wrestler Tor Johnson played Inspector Clay/The Ghoul Man in the film. 

In the early 1960s The Ghoul Man became a best selling Halloween mask. In fact that mask was my first exposure to Tor Johnson. I'd see it everywhere, but I had no idea it was from Plan 9 until many years later.

 Although the film's sets look consistently cheap, the police uniforms and cars have an odd and undeniable realism. That's because Tor Johnson's son was a San Fernando police officer, and arranged for Wood to borrow cars, uniforms and weapons.

 Eros, one of the aliens who carries out the titular Plan 9 to conquer Earth, is played by actor/radio announcer Dudley Manlove.

I don't have anything to say here except... Dudley Manlove.

Actually now that I think of it, Manlove uttered the movie's most famous line: "You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! STUPID!"

 The alien Leader is played by flamboyant actor John Breckenridge. He was a well-known LA drag queen, who went by the name of "Bunny."

Danny the co-pilot (seen here on the left) was played by David De Mering, who was Breckenridge's personal secretary and alleged lover. Breckinridge and De Mering both lived with Paul Marco, who played Kelton the cop in the film.

 Behold the awesome special effects of Plan 9 From Outer Space! Eat your heart out, Infinity War!

Contrary to popular belief, Wood did not use hubcaps or pizza pans as the flying saucers. They were actual saucer model kits released by the Lindberg Company, and are still available today!

During the scene in which the saucers fly merrily through the skies of LA, they pass over the studios of CBS, NBC and ABC. Was this Ed Wood's attempt at product placement, hoping one of the networks would pony up some dough?

 In typical Woodsian fashion, Plan 9's aspect ratio changes from scene to scene. Sometimes it's around 1:75 to 1 (which is close to standard movie width), while in other scenes it's 1:33 to 1 (which is TV format).

 Many fans have noted the movie has a timeless quality, as shots change randomly from day to night, often in the same scene.

This wasn't a mistake on Wood's part, but a result of his budgetary limitations. Due to the limits of 1950s film technology, it was necessary to shot nighttime scenes in full sunlight. They'd be darkened with a filter later on to simulate night.

Unfortunately Wood ran out of money, so his "day for night" shots were never corrected, resulting in a film that doesn't seem to know what time of day it is.

Happy 60th Anniversary to Plan 9 From Outer Space! Here's to 60 more!
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