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Thursday July 16th 2020

Plan 9 From Outer Space | 1959

Plan 9 From Outer Space film location: Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood
Plan 9 From Outer Space location: Can your heart stand the shocking facts?: site of Quality Studios, Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood

For all its faults (and, yes, there are plenty), Plan 9 is never boring and I wish the same could be said for some of the more highly-lauded productions I’m sometimes obliged to sit through, and it remains a remarkable monument to unbridled enthusiasm.

Most importantly, against all the odds, Plan 9 got made and released, while Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, as magnificent as it could have been, will never exist anywhere but in our imaginations.

For all the flack they’ve received, it’s due to Harry and Michael Medved and their Golden Turkey Awards that we’re all now familiar with the name, and the work, of Edward D Wood Jr.

Plan 9 deconstructs narrative more radically than anything by Jean-Luc Godard, subverts naturalism more thoroughly than Luis Buñuel and poses more brain-twisting questions than David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.

Why was an ailing old man married to a voluptuous Goth woman? Why did he morph into a Transylvanian count in full evening dress? How did a lumbering Swede with only the vaguest grasp of the English language become a police inspector? And why do aliens capable of interstellar travel keep their advanced equipment on wooden dining tables?

For a, somewhat fantasised, but loving recreation of the making of the film, see Tim Burton's Ed Wood or Mark Patrick Carducci's 1992 documentary Flying Saucers Over Hollywood.

Most of the film was made on necessarily cramped sets built behind these gates in the tiny Quality Studios, 5628½ Santa Monica Boulevard, near North Wilton Place, in an unglamorous stretch of Hollywood a few blocks east of the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

It's good to see that Gold Diggers next door, a favourite bar of Ed Wood, is not only still in business but has been given a whole new lease of life, as a bar, boutique hotel and recording studio (which incorporates the old movie studio space) – while thankfully still retaining the same sleaze-style frontage.

So on to the few real locations.

Plan 9 From Outer Space film location: Lakeside Street, Sylmar, California
Plan 9 From Outer Space location: the home of the heartbroken old man: Lakeside Street, Sylmar, California | Photograph: Google Maps

The bungalow of the doomed old man (Bela Lugosi) is 15129 Lakeside Street, at San Fernando Road, Sylmar, in the San Fernando Valley, which in real life was home of Inspector Clay himself, ex-wrestler Tor Johnson.

The cemetery (the real one, that it, used for long shots) is the San Fernando Pioneer Memorial Cemetery, 14451 Bledsoe Street at Foothill Boulevard also in Sylmar. It’s not fared well over the years, suffering from vandalism, and now languishes in a sorry state but, even so, the gravestones don’t wobble. There are plans afoot to restore it.

As to those battle scenes… If anyone can inform me precisely where the newsreel inserts were filmed, well, I’ll buy you a vodka gimlet.

But that’s in the future, my friend, which is where is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.