Criswell Predicts 1966 IS BACK!
Criswell Predicts 1966
One of my favorite characters has to be Jeron Criswell King, a pop psychic who was active in the 1960s and ’70s. Most of you probably know that he was in schlock director Ed Wood’s stable of “actors,” and appeared in many of his disasterously wonderful films, notably Plan 9 From
Outer Space and Orgy of the Dead.
Here he is on the Tonight Show from December 31, 1965, making predictions of dude/ nude ranches, discovery of the hollow earth, and an American on the Moon by the end of 1966. Carson gets in some good zingers without making fun of old Criswell.
“Plan 9 from Outer Space” (1959)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959):
“Unspeakable Horrors From Outer Space Paralyze The Living And Resurrect The Dead!”
It’s midnight, on a Tuesday, and once again I return to the world of abysmal films of dubious social import. This evening’s miss-adventure is “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” a 1959 sci-fi film that has strong grounds to compete for the title of “worst movie of all time (behind Manos: Hands of Fate).” While Manos is unwatchable tripe, however, Plan 9 is at least outrageously funny and, at the $1 I paid for it, a heck of a steal. I couldn’t believe when I found it in the bin — the holy grail of terrible science fiction that I had heard so much about. Finally I would be able to see for myself the pure, unadulterated, hilarious horror that is “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” It was a triumphant moment in that Dollar Store as I stood wedged between the DVD rack, the discount sunglasses, and the dollar CDs from artists no one has ever heard of. It was my turn to witness what has been dubbed one of the worst films of all time. But, I cannot wax poetic forever on my moment of triumph. Instead, to the review!
The film opens and, immediately, you know that you are in for a treat. A film of such spectacularly bad proportions it cannot be fathomed by your “juvenile, human minds.” You are left in a sort of stupor that lingers momentarily between alarm and outright joy. This is knowing “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” This is knowing Ed Wood’s soul intimately. Like a lover…with serious continuity issues. That aside, the opening, narrated by a man named “Criswell” is an omen of all the absurdity to come. Delivered in a voice akin to that of the “Man-Behind-The-Curtain” in the Wozard of Oz, Criswell tells us:
Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown… the mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you, the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of grave robbers from outer space?
Brace yourselves, you too are to become the unfortunate witnesses to this dark day that foretells of the future, while simultaneously occurring in the past. It is also important to recall that all these future events will effect us at some later point. Dare I say in the future? My God, its so brilliantly esoteric! And it was delivered with such a brilliant combination of lighting, shadowing, and creepy hair silhouetting.
It was at this point that I considered raiding the liquor cabinet, because I was pretty sure Plan 9 had to involve some form of hard alcohol in order for it to begin like this. Ed Wood was either alcoholic or so brilliantly insane as to appear in a constant state of inebriation to form such a film in his “juvenile, human mind.” Just thinking about it gets my pineal and pituitary gland tingling. Of course that could be the long distance electrodes being shot into them, in order to resurrect the recently dead. You heard that correctly, the aliens (who look shockingly human down to the their lipstick) are regenerating the dead of the Earth to rise up and destroy mankind!
It’s all so nefariously absurd as to be almost, not-all-all plausible. For one thing, the science in this movie is abysmal, even by 50′s b-movie standards and for another, they can only resurrect the recently dead. Meaning, well, they need to start killing people. The first victim is the wife of old man played by Bela Lugosi, who, ironically, dies during the making of the film. This leaves Ed Wood with only a few shots of the only veteran actor on his cast. His answer to this? Splice them in constantly, even if they don’t really fit. And if they don’t fit at all, resort to simply hiring a double who holds a cape over his face the entire time and is the least-convincing body double in the history of cinema. Of course, the old man dies as well and before he too is resurrected by Plan 9 he has a funeral. And at that funeral, Criswell tells us in high-pitched tones:
At the funeral of the old man, unknown to his mourners, his DEAD WIFE was watching!
And this was only in the first ten minutes! There’s still 60-odd minutes to go and already the narration and dialogue are so helplessly bad that I’m rolling on the floor wondering if I will ever stop laughing. Wondering if that, in the future, I will be so affected by this future events, that I will laugh uproariously at totally inappropriate times.
Of course, the plot thickens. By that, I mean, becomes even less coherent. The police sent to investigate are either frightened off, trip over the cheap, wooden gravestones that are scattered as thick as fleas in the graveyard set (which in turn, topple out of the ground as well) and where the aliens plunder for fresh corpses, or are themselves turned into slow-moving, ineffective, and completely useless weapons for Plan 9. Did I mention the cops are completely incompetent?
They have a habit of waving their guns around at other people, using them to adjust their hats, and even pointing them at themselves. Its like no one is even trying to make this movie logical. Nothing makes sense. Nothing. As I watched this movie I felt what meth addicts must feel — a desperate need for the world to make sense again. Ed Wood’s creation had become a dizzying drug for my mind, turning it to a confusing mush of unintelligible plot points, not-so-subtle sexism, and the “Catch-22″-ness of the military’s reaction to the aliens.
The military in this movie is one of the points I found most amusing. At one point a general and a colonel discuss what the colonel claims to have seen in the sky and shot at. They banter back and forth, the colonel insisting that he saw a flying saucer as the general staunchly denies they exist, saying that orders from the top say they don’t. He asks the colonel if he wants to continue to claim he saw what he did, even threatening him with court-martial. The colonel insists again and the general, pauses, lights up a cigarette, and says simply: “I like you, Colonel.” And the proceeds to tell him that saucers do exist, there are aliens on earth, and that they’ve been trying to communicate with us for some time.
Man, is it dizzy in here, or is it me?
Ultimately, the movie meanders on through hilarious situations that I wouldn’t be able to summarize without writing a doctoral thesis on the subject. Suffice it to say they are hilarious, full of woodenly-delivered lines, and also of poorly-considered science. The movie draws to a close with a confrontation between human and alien on board the flying hubcap…erm, saucer. They argue for a bit about who deserves to kill who and the various benefits of eradicating the human race before Eros, the alien overlord, gets right to the point with a poorly-crafted analogy rooted in dubious, dubious science:
Colonel Tom Edwards: You speak of Solaranite. But just what is it?
Eros: Take a can of your gasoline. Say this can of gasoline is the sun. Now, you spread a thin line of it to a ball, representing the earth. Now, the gasoline represents the sunlight, the sun particles. Here we saturate the ball with the gasoline, the sunlight. Then we put a flame to the ball. The flame will speedily travel around the earth, back along the line of gasoline to the can, or the sun itself. It will explode this source and spread to every place that gasoline, our sunlight, touches. Explode the sunlight here, gentlemen, you explode the universe. Explode the sunlight here and a chain reaction will occur direct to the sun itself and to all the planets that sunlight touches, to every planet in the universe. This is why you must be stopped. This is why any means must be used to stop you. In a friendly manner or as (it seems) you want it.
So there it is, Ed Wood. I see what you did there, with your crazy LSD trip of a mind. You’re pulling some “Day the Earth Stood Still” bullshit on us. The humans must die because they will only destroy themselves as well as the universe with their crazy sun-exploding, gasoline-wielding analogy weapons! But Wood, we know who’s side you play the skirt-lifting cheerleader for! It’s the aliens! Wait, you set their ship on fire. Also, you suddenly made them megalomaniac, wife-beaters? The humans escaped? Wait, but they can continue to develop their weapons, right? I’m waiting for the plot twist. The aliens are immune to fire? The reanimated corpses are actually useful? All the purple satin the aliens wear is special fire-retardant armor? Oh…the saucer just blew up. So, the movie’s over? Ah, I see, almost, except for the preachy close with Criswell warning us that God needs to help humanity.
I think I’ve found the best dollar bin DVD yet.
Best Sexual Healing…Grieving Moment:
Criswell: “The grief from his wife’s death became greater and greater agony. The home they had so long shared became a tomb, a sweet memory of her joyous living. The sky to which he had once looked was now only a covering for her dead body. The ever-beautiful flowers she had planted with her own hands became nothing more than the lost roses of her cheeks. Confused by his great loss, the old man left that home… never to return again!”
Best Tie-In To Real Events:
Aliens do exist and they do wear purple sateen suits that look like something from a gay porno based in the middle ages.
Best Un-Real Event:
Sunlight exploding the galaxy? Reanimated corpses? Ed Wood directing his way out of a soggy paper bag? Take your pick.
Best Plot Twist:
The aliens hate us “Because all you of Earth are idiots.”
Best Family Moment:
Jeff Trent: “You promise you’ll lock the doors immediately?”
Paula Trent: “I promise. Besides, I’ll be in bed before a half hour’s gone… with your pillow beside me.”
Jeff Trent: “My pillow?”
Paula Trent: “Well, I have to have something to keep me company while you’re away. Sometimes in the night, when it does get a little lonely, I reach over and touch it. Then it doesn’t seem so lonely anymore.”
“Perhaps, on your way home, someone will pass you in the dark, and you will never know it… for they will be from outer space.”
It was just so good. So perfect. It went everywhere you expected and wanted it to go. Ed Wood, I doff my hat to you sir. You’ve made the top list for my $1 DVDs. You’ve taken home the gold. A 10/10 rating! Despite the horrible continuity between scenes (apparently, Ed Wood didn’t really care if between shots it changed from night to day), the awful sets (plaster walls for the sky, terrible velvet curtains, and the most weakly-designed aircraft set ever, and the god-awful writing and acting, you managed the make the most unintentionally hilarious film ever. Ed Wood, I salute you.
"And in December 2012, the gods will return from their long journey and appear again here on Earth. At least that is what the Mayan calendar, and Mayan written and oral lore, would have us believe. The so-called gods-in other words, the extraterrestrials-will come again. We're in store for a 'god shock' of major proportions."
Ah, it's good to have Erich Von Daniken still out there promoting his "paleocontact" theory. Chariots of the Gods? First appeared in 1968 and since then entire generations of enthusiasts for this material, as well as many Carl Sagan skeptical scientist types condemning it, have come and gone. Von Daniken himself suffered years in jail on tax fraud charges-- not pursued in court until after the publication of his first book-- and over the years has been caught up short over several projects promising proof of the idea that primitive man encountered advanced extraterrestrials. About these things these days he seems contrite, even self-deprecating, while still standing four-square behind the overall thesis.
In Twilight of The Gods, von Daniken sets out again to offer proof of it in the strata of the Puma Punku remains in the Bolivian Andes, a few miles southwest of the city of Tiwanaku, by legend constructed in a single night by space gods. The place contains enormous, precision cut stone blocks, apparently machine tooled by a culture that created an astronomical calendar reflecting 15,000 years of history.
Why do few people know about this, asks Von Daniken? "Is there some sort of conspiracy going on?" As a matter of fact, the space gods theory lately has been getting much more attention with the appearance of cable TV shows like Ancient Aliens, upon which Von Daniken has recently appeared, along with the likes of Christopher Dunn, the engineer who has done much work pointing out similar anomalies in the ruins of ancient Egypt; and David Hatcher Childress, whose publishing house for this kind of thing virtually makes him Von Daniken squared. Von Daniken's endurance in the popular paraculture does, in fact, speaks to the ongoing value of the questions he raises, and he does underscore again in this book the question mark in the title of his most famous.
Many scoff at the idea as unscientific, although scientists as respected as DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick have accepted and even championed the idea of "directed panspermia" as scientifically sound. Von Daniken's critics also have called him racist, or at least willfully ignorant of the authentic accomplishments of ancient human civilizations. Few doubt, however, that space god theory is at least an entertaining way to speculate. Witness, for instance, the enormous hardback reprint of Jack Kirby's comics series The Eternals, originally called Return of the Gods before legal fears stepped in. Kirby took Von Daniken's ideas in directions never intended, as do almost all of Von Daniken's readers and supporters.
<="" img=""> Jack Kirby's take on Van Daniken, later retitled.
<="" img=""> The full series available in hardback.
More than just entertainment, Von Daniken's ongoing presence in pop culture is an occasion to learn and review little known facts about parapolitical history. Von Daniken begins Twilight of the Gods with "World Ice Theory" the proto- Nazi occult belief of Hans Horbiger Welteislehre. In 1894 Welteishire invented a new type of valve essential for compressors still in widespread use today, no small accomplishment in the history of technology. But Von Daniken condemns Nazi racism and describes moon hoax theories as "anti-Americanism", but mentioning that Paperclip Nazis he knew like Werner Von Braun who worked on the moon program as all "honorable men." Thus, Twilight of the Gods returns students of conspiracy to a familiar modern moral quagmire, giving the book a dimension not found in the discussion it renews on the mysteries of Tiwanaku and other aspects panspermia that academia just wants to ignore.
Stanton Friedman is a very similar personality, a long-time UFO investigator who has outlasted his many critics in the public arena. Friedman spent the mid 1950s getting degrees in Physics from the University of Chicago--a classmate to Carl Sagan!-- and fourteen years working as a nuclear physicist. His interest in UFOs began in the late 1950s and has spent decades rooting out information from witnesses and archives, famously coining the situation as "the cosmic Watergate," a catch phrase the dates the era of his largest popularity. Newbies to UFOlogy may yet still be impressed by his hard science background, but he's more impressive to enthusiasts of the subject for his long list of hard-researched UFO books. Among them: Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience; TOP SECRET/MAJIC, and Crash At Corona: The Definitive Study of the Roswell Incident. His last most recent book was entitled Flying Saucers and Science, and this current one, co-authored with educator Kathleen Marden, niece of the earliest of modern abductees, Betty and Barney Hill, is called Science Was Wrong.
The book catalogs in an almost Fortean way the long list of scientific developments initially derided and dismissed by the scientific community. This includes air travel itself, of course, but also meteors, X-Rays, the telegraph, space exploration, germ theory--it's a long, sad list. Friedman, in fact, underscores the damage done not only from neglect of new discoveries, such as the slow governmental response to HIV/AIDS, but also by misguided official response to notions such as Social Darwinism, which led to the Eugenics movement in Germany and America. The connection to UFOs is obvious, of course, but the book does not get bogged down in, say, the particulars of the Roswell debate where Friedman often finds himself. Rather, it draws broader conclusions about the responsibility of scientists to get ahead of the UFO phenom, whatever it is. Whether one is a UFO believer or not, this is an essential ethical argument connected to that topic, science in general and the necessity of historical review. Whether or not the Roswell crash story breaks open one day, Friedman's role in bringing this debate before audiences for decades makes him an indispensable public figure.
Coming up: The Flying Saucer (1950) and Funnyman.
4/25/11: Ted Torbich put together his recent interview with Kenn Thomas and some photos from around the net and posted it as a video to YouTube here.
4/19/11: Back and forth with conspiracy researchers usually stops at the forth, with pseudo-skeptics turning off their minds after the first rebuttal of a parapolitical argument. Two recent cases: Acharya S’ work on the history of religion in the Zeitgeist movie became pseudo-debunked by an Australian Christian educational bureaucrat named Dr. Charles Forbes. Her far more convincing rebuttal to that "debunking" appears here. Case number two: Jesse Ventura dismissed and belittled a guest from his own show when interviewed by Piers Morgan on CNN. That guest, Alfred Lambremont Webre , made a far more convincing comeback here. This demonstrates that as a conspiracy theorist, Ventura has about as much credibility as Obama-birther Donald Trump, wrapping the laughter curtain around the topics as if covering himself while arising from an egobath.
4/16/11: The vintage photo blog Shorpy came up with an interesting addition to the recent retread of the Guy Hottel flying saucer memo. Of course, at Shorpy, "there's always something interesting."
4/12/11: New comments on Kirby at Rob Steibel's most excellent Kirby Dynamics.! (kt's comments now a little further down the page)
4/10/11: Researchers trying to Roswell-cubbyhole a well-known 7/15/47 note by J. Edgar Hoover now see its infamous "La." abbreviation as possibly being "Sw"--as in "Southwest", like around Roswell where the flying saucer crashed. Steamshovel agrees that the damned abbreviation could be anything, especially in a time before the standardization of such abbreviations.
The memo goes on that "the army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination." Well, J. Edgar, it's kinda diffcult to just pass over a big ol' space ship for cursory examination, much less the reported field of scattered debris. Perhaps he refers to the 30 inch saucer handed over to Guy Banister three days prior to Hoover's note. Banister was FBI special agent in charge in northwest US at the time-later famous for his association with Lee Harvey Oswald down in Louisiana ("La."!)--who reported that the army took the small saucer. This happened in Twin Falls, Idaho, was turned over in Butte, Montana, and got reported in the Tacoma and Seattle papers, and who knows how J. Edgar might have abbreviated any of those? Read all about it in JFK & UFO!