Tag Archives: pioneer cemetery

The Tapho Files

This wasn’t a dead weekend – it was a “mostly dead” weekend.

On Saturday, I went back to the Pioneer Cemetery in Sylmar to get some pictures for an article I’m writing. Pioneer was the cemetery used in Plan Nine From Outer Space – the greatest bad movie of all time – and is only open on the third Saturday of the month.

I met two delightful sisters there, Jacky Walker and Alma Wade, who are members of the San Fernando Historical Society, which oversees the cemetery. They confirmed that Plan Nine was indeed filmed there, and Alma has actually purchased a brick for Bela Lugosi in the memorial courtyard to let the world know about the connection.

I will be going back this week to meet with Jacky, with the portable DVD player in hand, to do a scene-by-scene survey of the film to match it up with actual cemetery locations. The ladies hope to use this information for future tours, and hopefully, for a screening of the film at the cemetery.

Bela's brick at the filming site of his "masterpiece."

Bela's brick at the filming site of his "masterpiece."

Alma & Bela

Alma Wade & Bela's brick

Alma & her sister Jacky Walker later that night after getting all "Zombified" for the march.

Alma (right) & her sister Jacky Walker later that night after getting all "zombified" for the march.

I rushed home to pick up my stepson and then sped to Universal Studios where he attended Halloween Horror Nights with some friends.

I made it back in time to go to downtown Newhall to meet with 600 of my closest “life-challenged” friends for a Zombie March. The march went from a comic book store in downtown Newhall to Heritage Junction inside the William S. Hart Park where the Heritage Haunt was going on. It was a gruesome looking crowd, but I had the distinct impression that lots of the marchers looked better with their makeup on than without it.

"We are the three dead amigos ..."

"We are the three dead amigos ..."

Heritage Haunt gets better every year. They began two years ago by creating a wonderful haunted house (inside the Newhall Ranch House, which IS a haunted house. Ask anybody who regularly works there!) They have expanded their efforts to include much more of the property with new attractions like “Psycho’s Funhouse,” “Haunted Village,” “Desperado’s Haunted Hay Ride,” “Chewy’s Pirate Cove,” and a New World Dance presentation of “Sleepy Hollow.” It is fantastic! Hats off to Ed Marg and the rest of the Haunters. Believe me, it’s as good as the theme parks, and a lot cheaper!

Since we don’t have Boingo concerts to attend at Halloween anymore, we now have time to check out other October happenings. I would suggest the screenings of The Haunting next Saturday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. It’s a cool film, and what makes this screening special is that psychic Michael Kouri will be on hand to introduce the audience to the ghosts that never left the building after their show closed.

Until next time …

Ed Wood’s New “Plan”

Just when you thought it was safe to don a pair of 3D glasses. …

It’s been announced that cross-dressing auteur Ed Wood’s 1959 schlocky science fiction film Plan Nine From Outer Space is being re-released to theaters sometime this summer in a colorized 3D format.

All I can say is: What took them so long?

Plan Nine is often called the worst movie ever made and contains all the elements of an anti-classic masterpiece: bad direction, terrible acting, a story that’s meaningless, cheesy special effects, and dialogue that’s unintelligible. But instead of being a “worst movie ever” candidate, the accolade the film should garner is “the most hilarious movie ever made that wasn’t supposed to be.”

Plan Nine is so bad that it’s hard to believe that it was ever meant to be taken seriously. Several of the scenes are so unintentionally hysterical that you imagine it being a spoof of bad 50s sci-fi films, rather than simply being one. I have seen dozens of “great films” that were yawners. Plan Nine is never boring. In fact, it’s fantastic.

Plan Nine “starred” some of Ed Wood’s usual suspects, including permanent Newhall resident Tor Johnson (he’s interred in Eternal Valley Cemetery) and one-time James Dean gal-pal Vampira (Maila Nurmi). Wood, whose ambition outpaced his talent, reportedly made the film for $60,000. He must have been spent the lion’s share of the budget on angora sweaters, because the money’s not found on the screen.

The film was partially shot at the Pioneer Cemetery in San Fernando and nearby in front of Tor Johnson’s house. I am currently working with some great ladies from their historical society to show the movie at the cemetery later this year as a fundraiser for the preservation of the grounds. Keep checking here for details: www.scvhs.org

Incidentally, a documentary on the making of another Tor Johnson offering, The Beast of Yucca Flats (which was filmed in Saugus), will be packaged in an upcoming “Mystery Science Theater 3000” set.

The Beast of Yucca Flats, in case you’re wondering, is the worst film ever made.