It might seem odd that I would give an Honourable Mention to this 1994 Tim Burton flick, even if it is a masterpiece in its own right, but whilst I decided that Plan 9 From Outer Space is not a vampire film, the fact that Wood's film (nearly) featured Lugosi, as well as the focus this film has on Lugosi's vampiric roles, and that the Vampire Girl was played by Maila Nurmi in her Vampira persona (played in film by Lisa Marie) made me feel that I could feature this as a mention.
Now, I am a big Tim Burton fan and I do believe that this Biopic of the career of Edward D Wood Jr (Johnny Depp) is one of his better films as well and thus it does have a special place for me – even if he wasn’t exactly accurate with the biopic side of things.
What he did was create a film that was both funny and filled with pathos as well – the pathos coming from the relationship between Ed and Bela, whom Ed meets when Bela is trying out a coffin, and of course Bela’s actual life. Some of that Pathos is based around the truth, Bela had become hooked on intravenous drugs by the time he worked with Ed, but not all of it.
Some of the pathos is based on historical falsehood. We see an actor who claims he has not worked for four years when, in fact, he made two films the year before he made Glen or Glenda with Ed – Bela Lugosi meets a Brooklyn Gorilla and My Son the Vampire. It also suggests that he died alone, with his wife having left him and only Ed’s misfit cohorts at his funeral. Lillian did leave him in 1953 but he was remarried in 1955 to Hope Lininger. His son, Bela Lugosi Jr, was a part of his life from what I can tell and has confirmed that he was part of the decision to have Bela buried in his cape – from research it appears that Frank Sinatra paid for the funeral.
Even so we see a man whose past glories have faded and the marvellous portrait of him as Dracula in his home stands testament to those glories past. The Lugosi character is actually so good because of the unbelievably fantastic performance by Martin Landau – who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for said performance. Incidentally Landau’s daughter Juliet plays Loretta King - Juliet would also play the vampire Drusilla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
I am, of course, putting this on the blog during a season based around Conrad Brooks and Brooks is played in the film by Brent Hinkley. He is a character appearing often in the film as one of Ed’s crew/actors but he is also the person he manages to get Bela on a rant with regards Karloff. At the end of the film, when Burton gives a little about what happened to those involved, it is mentioned that the New York Times called Brooks the “Gielgud of bad movies”.
However Brooks is not just portrayed in the movie but also briefly cameos in the film as a bartender. He even gets a line to speak. Bizarrely, if I were scoring this movie it would be the highest rating I had given to any film with Brooks in it.
A marvellous film and well worth anyone’s time.
The imdb page is here.
Night of the Fools
This is completely on the other end of the scale of filmmaking. Indeed it is so bad that not even Edward D Wood Jr – in this played by Dash Titan – would have put his name to it. This supposedly concentrates on the events leading up to the making of Plan 9 From Outer Space and the ‘strange and eerie’ alien abduction of Ed Wood.
Yet what we have is badly shot – especially given this was done in 2004, badly cast, badly acted rubbish with depressingly bad effects and not a lot in the way of sets. It goes nowhere and does very little.
Ed – in wig – has come up with the idea for a film and goes round to see the guys. His first stop is with Bela Lugosi (Tim Timkoko). Now I would say that Timkoko looked nothing like Lugosi but did make a passable Tom Mason but I don’t think that is the case either. In fact none of the cast look like those they are portraying, at all. Anyway, Lugosi is depressed but Ed has a new project, he can even be Dracula in it.
He phones Tor Johnson (Shep Winfield), Maila Nurmi (Yahuba Daly) – note that the credits on imdb have Nurmi’s name wrong – and Criswell (Don Mouskouri) whose coffin is depressingly cardboard! He invites them all out for a spaghetti dinner and then they can talk about his movie, Grave Robbers From Outer Space.
So they end up at the restaurant and after some banter and some spaghetti Ed realises that he hasn’t got his wallet. He gets the others to leave and then talks to the waitress (Trza Vante) telling her she would be perfect in his next movie and that he will give her acting lessons. He explains how he was taken to dinner and they have all gone and offers to leave his car as collateral – all this is done as Titan clearly reads from a script on the table – but she won’t hear of it and picks up the tab.
In a park they get drunk and talk of the movie, Ed explains the parts they will all play. By the time he is back in wig and pearls they have all fallen asleep. We see a saucer above Hollywood and it is depressing that Wood managed to make a more convincing scene 45 years earlier. It abducts Ed.
Ed is in a spacecraft and is told that he has been paralysed (though somehow he can still swig from a bottle) and that he will make his movie, it will fall through the cracks but indelibly stamp itself on the collective psyche of mankind, stopping us destroying ourselves eventually. He will not remember these events but they will be marked by the name of the film being changed as Grave Robbers will bring about negativity and thus it will be known by the non-entity name Plan 9 From Outer Space.
There is nothing in this film to commend it. Poor performances, no effects and no real story as such. Not really an honourable Mention but actually a dishonourable one. In terms of the Conrad Brooks season I am running he is not even mentioned but it double bills with Gypsy Vampire’s Revenge on DVD and fit thematically (though not in quality) with Burton’s Ed Wood for this blog Double Bill.
The imdb page is here.
Thursday, August 27, 2009