Tag Archives: san fernando valley

“Back to the Future” at 25

The Marty McFly house at 9303 Roslyndale Avenue, Arleta.

I couldn’t just let July slip away without acknowledging the 25th anniversary of the debut of the comedy Back to the Future.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the beloved opening chapter of the time-travel trilogy (and if you’re out there, I would really like to know why that is), the plot follows young Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) who accidentally goes back thirty years into the past in a time machine made out of a Delorean. He is aided on his quest to return to the future by his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), but before he can return he must manuever his parents into a first kiss, or risk never having a future to go back to.

Back to the Future debuted on July 3, 1985. I can’t quite recall why it took me so long, but I didn’t see it until October 26th of that year. I remember the date because in the film, October 26, 1985 is when Marty travels back in time to 1955. It was like I was watching the film in real time.

Back to the Future was filmed in several locations around Southern California, including Universal Studios, Pasadena, Burbank, Whittier, and Puente Hills. I drove by two of the locations today: the Burger King that Marty skateboards past on Victory Boulevard in Burbank, and Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch near my home in Santa Clarita where the Peabody Ranch segment was filmed. 

The street where Doc Brown races his Delorean down (and over) in "Back to the Future."

My family and I visited another of the locations earlier this week in the San Fernando Valley community of Arleta. The house at 9303 Roslyndale Avenue served as the McFly family home. It’s here during the opening minutes of the film where we see the McFly family car being towed away. This is also the place where Marty returns to a transformed house and family at the conclusion of the film. Out front is the tree-lined street where Doc Brown blasts the Delorean off to future sequels.

The setting looks much the same as it did in 1985 – which is what you would expect from a “timeless” classic like Back to the Future.

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.