Plan 9 From Outer Space Toledo Sighting, 10/3/59

Plan 9 From Outer Space Toledo SIghting, 10/3/59 - The End of the Big Beat Era Defined

Ed Wood’s immortal Plan 9 From Outer Space will forever be among the classics, or anti-classics if you like to call it that. Many Cult Movie fans already know of it’s jaw-dropping insanity, Bela’s few moments on the screen filmed just before he passed away, Vampira offering a classic Late Night Sexy Ghoul class, Tor Johnson in his next to last film role, Chriswell’s bombastic opening and closing, and other things that we love about it. It’s not to be missed!

After the first plays in several theaters, Plan 9’s theatrical life was very much on the bottom of the level – Playing second rate places and Drive Ins at the bottom of the bill without any real fanfare although there was a program that paired it with another Wood film, Bride of the Monster which at least provided a good double feature to waste time with. In a later release, it played with the Alan Freed flick Go Johnny Go which is a classic in Rock and Roll film history, but back then was one of the final flings of the classic era when Freed was headed down Trouble Alley as a month after this Toledo, Ohio October, 1959 showing he was fired from WABC in New York, facing controversy for Payola (sadder still was that the great Richie Valens would not live to see himself on the big screen with his only film appearance in that film). Nobody watching this would have knew that they were watching the end of an era – The End of the Classic Big Beat in a time that would soon see the original American Idol era of TV Teen Idols and wimpy music with at least some cool songs popping up here and there, almost the end of Ed Wood’s time trying to be one with the world of Hollywood before flopping with Night of the Ghouls and then going into more sexually charged films with the proto-Roughie The Sadistic Urge, and the end of it’s distribution company, Distributors Corporation of America.

It’s one of the classic Downtown Rock and Roll Double Features of all time! In Toledo, it was played where other great films were filling up the screen, in a Downtown B theater that used to be first run which would program films through The Late 50’s and Early 60’s like The Mating Urge, The Tingler, CUBAN REBEL GIRLS, Nature Girl, I Passed for White, High School Caesar, and Date Bait. Although it’s cool programming would tone down by 1962, as the Gayety would take over in my opinion as the B Flick Home for Kicks as it ushered in the Nudie craze through the Glass City, it would pick up the pace in it’s last few years in business (It would play a double bill of Motor Psycho and Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! in September, 1965) and it would play A Hard Day’s Night on it’s first run in the area as it was accustomed to Rock and Roll flicks, but it would close up shop by 1968

DCA was about to close up shop after a hit and miss history of distributing films, including one that went into some problems with the Production Code, I Am a Camera, which dealt with Lesbianism and Abortion, leading to very few plays outside of the then-small Art Film circuit, possibly leading to a major blow that the company never picked up from. Releasing films under the DCA name and reportedly under Valiant Pictures in it’s last days, it tried to do a juggling act between high-art films and Exploitation flicks, and we all know the score concerning films like this – to them, it was only product to fill the screens and nothing more.

In a way, there’s a strange Late Night Magic when you put the two together. As the Documentary about the making of Plan 9 said, anytime when you see the film it always feels like it’s 2 in the morning. When paired with Freed’s last big Beat Rock Film show with the great Chuck Berry playing more than just his music, it’s like knowing that you’ve been chosen to feel that 50’s Downtown Theater Feeling when everything else was changing around you.

Spotting this ad in my research gave me the feeling like I was young and listening to my first Cramps record or getting Vol. 4 of Back From the Grave (the first of many purchases I made of that great series). Maybe I can connect watching Plan 9 to my watching shows at the Greystone just when it was closing up shop or catching The UK Subs playing at The Harbor shortly after stopping it’s Porno business and trying briefly to open up as a Punk concert hall. It’s my Unexplainable, I guess, the feeling of catching the end of an era while living in the late night much like those watching a double feature like this at a late show, loving it, and knowing that things were going to change around the corner.

To them, I’m sure that Plan 9 was just another low rent B flick with cheap special effects, ghoulish characters, and toy saucers on strings waiting to be shunned off to the TV Rays of the Late Night Air in The 60’s, but it was through those transmissions that the world picked up on the madness. Chriswell was right, we did hear about this in the near future.

Extra bonus cut, Chuck Berry and Richie Valens from Go Johnny Go!

Right now, it’s 2AM wherever you are!


~ by screen13 on February 9, 2014.

One Response to “Plan 9 From Outer Space Toledo Sighting, 10/3/59”

  1. Brilliant!

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