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10 Out-of-This-World Facts About Plan 9 From Outer Space

Although movie producer/director Ed Wood was passionate about his work, his movies resembled children’s backyard films starring willing friends, reciting lines they could barely remember and using props from the kitchen drawers. He produced the 1959 film Plan 9 From Outer Space on a shoestring budget and declared it his life’s magnum opus. After his death, it became famous as the worst movie ever produced. Whether that’s true or not, we’ve all seen at least part of Plan 9, and now we can learn more about it with a trivia list. Here’s a sample:

6. MAILA NURMI (A.K.A. VAMPIRA) DEMANDED A SILENT ROLE.

Plan 9 is filled with classic lines like “Future events such as these will affect you in the future” and “All you of Earth are idiots!” (Eat your heart out, Shakespeare!) From start to finish, though, the movie’s biggest star is dead quiet. TV’s first horror host, Maila Nurmi had gotten her big break on the Los Angeles station KABC as “Vampira.” Alluring and ghoulish, the character’s weekly show earned huge ratings during the 1950s. In Plan 9, Nurmi plays a similar role. Yet whereas Vampira had a silky, seductive voice, Nurmi's Plan 9 character (a revived cadaver) never makes a peep. The actress later claimed that Wood had given her some dialogue at the onse, but she didn’t like the material he’d written, so insisted on staying mute.

7. TOR JOHNSON’S PHONY SCARS KEPT MIGRATING.

After Inspector Clay (Johnson) is killed off, his semi-mangled corpse rises up and attacks some hapless police officers. For these sequences, makeup wizard Harry Thomas gave the actor some hideous-looking fake bruises. “The scars were created on Tor’s face with cotton spirit gum and collodion,” Thomas said in the 1992 documentary Flying Saucers Over Hollywood: The ‘Plan 9’ Companion. “You have to be careful because sometimes collodion will burn, especially if it’s used over the same area more than once.” Throughout the shoot, Thomas was constantly moving the false scars slightly to the left or right. In doing so, he prevented Johnson from getting any real ones.   

There’s more, including the story of how the film broke out from obscurity in the 1970s and became the classic it is today. Read about Plan 9 From Outer Space at mental_floss.


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