We all know that my big-dreaming, veggie-bodied quadriplegic uncle, Gordon Zahler, helped cut his post-production teeth supplying overbearing, background music to Ed Wood Jr.’s universally condemned/cult beloved science fiction “thriller” Plan Nine From Outer Space. But two years earlier, just around the time he probably would’ve died from intestinal complications had it not been for a daring, experimental surgery pioneered by the U.S. Veterans’ Administration, Gordon also rounded up the music for Wood’s short, Final Curtain. It was always hard to know what became of this earlier movie, but recently there’s been a turbine of publicity that it was an aborted T.V. pilot. Hold your space aliens: a discovered copy was aired at the Sundance Film Festival!
EndearingNew York Times story about the uncovered footage:
” … The journey was a personal one for Mr. Insalaco. As he explained in an interview before the pilot was screened, he had been introduced to Wood’s films through his great-uncle, the eccentric actor Paul Marco. Mr. Marco played Patrolman Kelton, a k a Kelton the Cop, in several Wood films, including the notoriously awful “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” to which Mr. Marco had taken Mr. Insalaco when he was 6. Their relationship grew after Mr. Insalaco’s father died; so did Mr. Insalaco’s affection for Wood. “There’s something that resonates with audiences, and certainly with me,” said Mr. Insalaco, now 37 and an executive producer at Clear Channel Radio’s KFI in Los Angeles. “I’ve watched them over and over again, and I was interested in them since I was a teenager.” Mr. Marco, who had mentioned “Final Curtain” to Mr. Insalaco numerous times, died in 2006 at 78. Two weeks later Mr. Insalaco found a letter on Mr. Marco’s nightstand detailing Wood’s plans for the pilot. It was to be Part 1 of a television series called “Portraits of Terror,” Wood wrote in the letter, and a print had already been struck. But where was it? …”
So much to think about here I need Criswell for brain de-pressurizing. But if that pilot had gone ahead and Gordon’s kept his numb feet tangled in Wood’s big-hearted, Mickey Mouse productions, he never would’ve gone on to network-status, bigger movies and real adventure. Check out what he did. And remember the book about him, Wheeling the Deal. Two years later, incidentally, Gordon contributed to his third Ed Wood Jr. feature, 1959′s “Night of the Ghouls”. After that, Gordon chased Wood around for the dough he owed him, and Wood went cliche Hollywood deadbeat, blaming the bankruptcy of his production company for his losses.