Saturday, February 24, 2024

freakboy on film: PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1957)

Banner for The sixth so bad it’s good blogathon, hosted by Taking up room.  February 23-25, 2024 shows three images from black and white films.
Click the pic for more reviews!
You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable. That is why you are here.
  I know that’s why I joined The Sixth So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, hosted by Rebecca of Taking Up Room!  I love hearing about unexplainable films, while also sharing my love of these gems with others.  In past bad/good blogathons, I have sliced through the destruction of the American male and then invited you to risk your life at a cheerleading camp.  Now, in an either brilliant or terrible decision, I must ask you one question.  Can your heart stand the shocking facts as I blog about Ed Wood’s PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE?! 
Poster for plan 9 from outer space shows a human-like alien wearing a helmet, a man in a cape threatening an alien and A woman in a sexy dress standing as grave diggers work in a cemetery.  Text reads, UNSPEAKABLE HORRORS FROM OUTER SPACE PARALYZE THE LIVING AND RESURRECT THE DEAD
It all started when I was a young freakboy of around 9 or 10 watching IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD (1982) on HBO.  This film is a compilation of clips and trailers from some of the most unusual films to come out of Hollywood.  To top it off, the whole thing was hosted by Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, John Candy, and Cheech & Chong, all of whom were known to the young freakboy.  This was my introduction to such cult films as ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES and THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES I was also introduced to the mind of Edward D. Wood, Jr. and I eagerly desired to know more.
Tor Johnson as ghoul
I need more Wood!
A few years later, I finally saw my first Ed Wood film and it was PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.  It is allegedly the worst movie of all time, but anyone who says that hasn’t seen A QUIET PLACE or THE NOTEBOOK Maybe I was young and naive or maybe I’ve always been drawn to the misunderstood fringes, but I saw beyond the cheap sets, the questionable acting and choppy story.  I embraced the brilliantly crazy dialogue, the criticism of the U.S. government for covering up UFO’s and for pointing out how mankind is a savage, war-hungry race! 
Dudley manlove and Joanna Lee as arrogant extraterrestrials
Tan a & Eros model the latest in smug space attire!
The story revolves around an airplane pilot, his wife and some police officers investigating strange goings-on in the sky and in a nearby cemetery.  Seems like extremely arrogant extraterrestrials are raising the dead so the government is forced to acknowledge that flying saucers exist.  If Plan 9 is successful, then maybe, just maybe, the government will heed the extraterrestrial’s warning of universal destruction thanks to the super weapon Solaranite!  According to Eros, the most arrogant of the arrogant extraterrestrials, mankind is on the verge of creating the Solaranite bomb, which ignites and explodes particles of sunlight and everything that the sunlight touches.  I’m not going to spoil the ending, but maybe if Eros wants to succeed, he should stop calling the human race stupid, no matter how true it is. 
Bela Lugosi spreads his Dracula cape in a cemetery
Eros is right if this image makes you faint!
What really makes PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE special are the personalities involved.  Bela Lugosi, who appears in random silent footage Ed Wood shot separately, has no lines, but, as the old man/ghoul, we get to see him in his Dracula cape one last time.  These posthumously used scenes, and the painfully obvious Lugosi non-lookalike stand-in moments, are far more interesting than the film DRACULA (1931).  Then there is 1950’s California TV personality Vampira (Maila Nurmil).  As the old man’s dead wife turned ghoul, she tragically has no lines either.  Vampira just roams around the cemetery set like a zombie, but she has more screen presence than a lot of the actors.  (I’m looking at you, Gregory Walcott as the airplane pilot.)  Unlike Lugosi and Vampira, wrestler Tor Johnson has a few clumsily spoken lines before Inspector Daniel Clay becomes a ghoul and the movie is better for it!  Dudley Manlove (which would make a great nerdy queer porn star name) as super arrogant Eros and Joanna Lee as Tanna appear quite comfortable in front of the camera or maybe they just loved their groovy extraterrestrial uniforms.  John “Bunny” Breckinridge acts with unparalleled boredom as the extraterrestrial ruler, which is disappointing because “Bunny” led a shockingly fascinating offscreen life.  (read NIGHTMARE OF ECSTASY by Rudolph Grey for more)  Oh, and I must not forget actor Paul Marco.  He adds some intentional comic relief as Patrolman Kelton, a character who appears in other Wood films. 
Criswell sits with his hands on a table
Criswell predicts you will love this film!
Last, but not least, there is Criswell.  This famous or infamous for his time psychic supplies an intro, an outro and occasional narration with a memorable flair.  He speaks Ed Wood’s dialogue with a mixture of sincerity and a knowing wink at the absurdity of it all.  He also deftly prepares and baffles the viewer right from the start.  Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.  In my opinion, without Criswell, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE would not be nearly as entertaining. 
Vampira strikes a goth glamour pose
What am I, chopped liver?
Of course, there would be no PLAN 9 without Edward D. Wood, Jr.  His off-kilter writing and one-take directing are on full display.  I know Tim Burton’s ED WOOD bio-pic plays fast and loose with facts, but I sincerely hope two things.  First, I hope Ed donned drag while directing this film.  Second, I hope he really saw PLAN 9 as the one he would be remembered for, because it is his masterpiece!  (Yes, GLEN OR GLENDA is my favorite Wood film, but both can be true) 
John bunny Breckinridge looks skeptical and bored as the extraterrestrial ruler
Never fear, Bunny is here…to question my logic!
In conclusion…
While definitely not the worst movie of all time, I know PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is technically not a good film.  However, this bewildering spectacle is a lot of fun and hides some truths within the craziness.  I mean, it has taken decades for the U.S. government to admit there is something in the skies, but continues to be vague about exactly what that something actually is.  Not to mention, the human race  generally seems to have increased in violent tendencies since this film was made.  So, maybe, in Ed Wood’s own misguided, delusions of grandeur way, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE was ahead of its time.  As Criswell predicted in the intro, Future events such as these will affect you in the future. 
A flying saucer flies through a cloudy sky
Beware!  Take care!
Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 

P.S.  my video love letter to Ed Wood and David Lynch that’s based on true events from 2020!  🛸


Friday, February 16, 2024

freakboy on film: BLONDE AMBITION (1981)

The most important American film since EARTHQUAKE! 
The Video X Pix, platinum elite collection DVD of Blonde Ambition shows two women straddling the Eiffel Tower while men dance at the base.
(directed by &. story by John and Lem Amero/ screenplay by Larue Watts) 

Candy and Sugar Kane sing and dance in cheap costumes at a dive bar.
The Kane Sisters, Candy and Sugar, have big Broadway dreams, but they are stuck performing at a dive bar in Coyote Fang, Wyoming.  A lucky coincidence comes in the form of a handsome, rich dude and his chauffeur.  Stephen Carlisle III is in Wyoming to retrieve the Buckingham Broach, a priceless long-thought lost family heirloom, which looks exactly like Sugar’s cheap broach she purchased at a carnival.  After a quick take this job and shove it to their boss and a fond farewell to Luke, a studly stable boy who is trying to invent a tonic to get his horse back in the saddle, the Kane Sisters are off to New York City with Stephen Carlisle III and his chauffeur Eric Smythe. 
chauffeur Eric Smythe and his boss Stephen Carlisle III enjoy the show
Later, after an eventful, full service flight, Stephen allows Candy and Sugar to stay in his NYC apartment while he returns the Buckingham Broach to his Aunt Lady Sybil Buckingham in England.  It isn’t long before the Kane Sisters jump start their big city show-biz career with roles in such art films as “Type, You Typers” and “Wild Gooseberries”.  At long last, Candy and Sugar get their big break in an epic reimagining of GONE WITH THE WIND, but it climaxes with one too many explosions and adds a new meaning to the line, “The Yankees are comin’!
A woman attired in 1800’s dress holds an umbrella and shouts.
Meanwhile in England, while waiting to have the Buckingham Broach appraised, Lady Sybil Buckingham is not amused with potentially loose women using her nephew and his apartment.  (Lady Sybil: “I’m the last person who’s going to f*** her way into this family.”)  She hires a New York private investigator to uncover dirt on the Kane Sisters, which may prove easy.  Candy begins an affair with the actor who played Rhett in the GWTW disaster, while Sugar is eager to make new friends in New York City.  These friends include a straight swingin’ couple whose home is basically an ice-skating rink and then there is the gay couple downstairs, Bill and Bob.  Sugar lets Bill, who will be hosting a drag ball at a leather bar, borrow her cheap broach as a topper for his wand.  After Bill leaves to prepare for the ball, Sugar has a ball with Bob.  (Sugar: “Just try and think of me as a man.”  Bob: “Well, I’ll try.”) 
Bob, a brunette  bearded man, looks surprised
In a twist everyone should see coming, Lady Sybil and Stephen realize the Buckingham Broach has been mixed up with Sugar’s cheap imitation, so it’s off to NYC!
Lady Sybil Buckingham talks on her fancy phone in her mansion.

SPOILER ALERT!: stop reading if you want to see for yourself how this crazy plot ends!) 

Candy and Sugar are dressed as drag queens.  Candy is wearing an aquamarine gown and a green Afro-style wig.  Sugar is dressed in a gold-beige gown and a similar black wig.
Meanwhile, the Kane Sisters are off to the leather bar to rescue the priceless broach, but they have to disguise themselves as drag queens to enter.  Chaos erupts when the leather boys discover Candy and Sugar are actually women just as Lady Sybil arrives with the police.  Then it’s off to jail for everybody, even Lady Sybil, (Cop: “Alright mac, you’re under arrest.  You’re also an ugly drag.”) but there is a happy ending!  Luke, the studly stable boy, bails everyone out with the millions he has made from a hair-growth tonic and then he proposes marriage to Sugar.  The money makes Lady Sybil a-ok with Stephen proposing to Candy.  Oh, it is also revealed the GWTW actor is the private investigator and that Lady Sybil, unbeknownst to her, actually owns the leather bar.  After all of that, and a whirlwind world tour, the Kane Sisters finally find Broadway success, and we are left with the moral of the story.  A riot in a gay bar and a night in the slammer is one way to ensure show-biz immortality! 
Candy and Sugar perform on broadway wearing matching feathery gowns as they strike a pose with arms in the air
What can I say about BLONDE AMBITION It is a physically hetero-centric adult film with a little song and dance between the often amusing encounters.  It is an adult film conceived and directed by John and Lem Amero, two gay brothers both known for their 1960’s exploitation flicks.  It is an adult film that’s more focused on the crazy plot and zany humor than the s-e-x.  It is an adult film with surprisingly good acting, especially Suzy Mandel as ditzy Sugar, Molly Malone as haughty Lady Sybil and Kurt Mann as Bill, particularly when he’s in drag.  (Bill, referring to another drag performer: “After the show she’s going to do her famous Dance of the Virgins, strictly from memory.”)  
Bill in drag, with a yellow boa and a platinum blonde wig, looks surprised.
How did I stumble upon BLONDE AMBITION?  I was watching/listening to an audio commentary on a different movie when film historian Heather Drain was talking about the infamous Amero Brothers, from their early exploitation films to their foray into adult cinema, which led to BLONDE AMBITION.  She highly recommended this lavish production and I knew I simply had to see it when she quoted the most brilliant, jaw-dropping movie tagline EVER! 

If you liked Deep Throat and Singin’ in the Rain, you're gonna love Blonde Ambition! 

In conclusion…
Well, I did and I do! 
Sugar Kane looking surprised and intrigued
(and you can also love BLONDE AMBITION, if you’re an adult, through Mélusine, the scintillating sister site of Vinegar Syndrome! 😉)

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 

P.S.  BLONDE AMBITION and LET MY PUPPETS COME would make a perfect musical porno double feature! 
A scene from let my puppets come shows a human Pinocchio dancing.
Speaking of double features, DARKENING STURGEONS and HAUNTING STURGEONS are available separately or as a 2-in-1 combo from an Amazon near you… 
Darkening Sturgeons plus haunting sturgeons equals sturgeons the complete serials by john L. Harmon.  Available from an Amazon near you

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The Failure (a short story, of sorts)

   The ignorance was loud and astounding.  

    He sat there in stunned silence as his office coworkers spewed forth ignorance and maybe even hate.  It was difficult to say when hate and ignorance sound so similar.  Either way, he couldn’t believe his ears.

    One coworker theorized that the entertainment industry was trying to get rid of white people.  She complained how there weren’t as many white faces on television and in film these days.  He knew this was a ridiculously bigoted theory and a gross exaggeration, but he bit his tongue.  

    The second coworker agreed with the first coworker’s theory and added one of her own.  With a tone best described as disdain, she complained that when there is a white person on television or in film, they were gay.  He knew this was also a ridiculously bigoted theory and as senseless as the other, but he continued biting his tongue. 

    Deep down, his voice was screaming to put an end to this blatantly racist and homophobic exchange, but what could he say? 

    “I am the whitest white guy you’re ever going to meet and I’m as queer as a two-headed penny, but I’m thrilled to see a variety of people telling their stories, daring to show the world how we are all very much alike!” 

    He could’ve gave voice to the screaming thoughts in his head, but he didn’t.  The community where he lived was predominantly made up of white, conservative, straight Christians.  If one did not fall under all of these categories, then one had to tread with caution.  He knew his place in this so-called community and out of fear of being fired or being labeled the problem worker, he swallowed his anger and sadness over how such intense prejudices continued in the world.

    In the end, he felt like a failure for not speaking up, for not daring to shine a spotlight on the intolerance before him. 
2024, John L. Harmon 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 

P.S.  my queer little books are available from an Amazon near you… 📚 
3 books by john L. Harmon.  Dark excursions the complete set.  Vision bent half blind poems.  Sturgeons the complete serials