Jessye Norman Sings Carmen – Plan 9 from Outer Space – tape 742

First on this tape, an episode of Omnibus in which Jessye Norman records Carmen in a french studio. After the success of the documentary on the recording of West Side Story, there was a flurry of similar documentaries, with classical stars recording musicals or operas. This one is filmed by famed documentarian Albert Maysles.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 21st July 1989 – 22:30

After this, we switch to Plan 9 from Outer Space, Ed Wood’s famously bad science fiction movie.

“We are interested in the future because that is where we will spend the rest of our lives.”

The film is not improved here by the loss of sound for about five minutes with no on-screen apology, so I don’t know if that’s my technical fault or Channel 4’s.

There’s been plenty written about Plan 9 and its director, Edward D Wood. He was an enthusiastic filmmaker but his films were not very good. This one betrays its meagre budget through things like cutting between daytime and nighttime shots because he was supposed to process the daytime shots as day for night, but didn’t. There’s a scene in an aircraft cockpit whose set appears to be a wall with a clipboard on it and a doorway with a curtain. The control sticks appear to be the backs of chairs.

Cockpit

Most famously, Wood got his friend Bela Lugosi, to appear, but Lugosi died after completing a couple of scenes. Keen to capitalize on his appearance, and loathe to discard the already shot footage, Wood gt his dentist to replace Lugosi, and play all his scenes with his cape obscuring his face. Nobody was any the wiser.

Not Bela Lugosi

Following this movie, there’s an episode of Four on the Floor, the Canadian sketch comedy show that wasn’t The Kids in the Hall. After this, Channel 4 closes down.

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One comment

  1. I was excited to see Plan 9 for years after reading about it in the Golden Turkey Awards as a kid, and you know what? It didn’t disappoint, it really is amusingly, endearingly ridiculous. I still think Glen or Glenda? is Wood’s best, though because it’s so personal that it’s one of the weirdest films ever made.

    “You’re right, it is stuck to your head!” Not a line from Plan 9, but from Mr Canoehead, the Frantics superhero. They’re best remembered for their song “Boot to the Head” now, no idea if they’re even still together, but I used to like their show.

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