80% Accurate – 20% of the Time

Most people know Criswell today as the pedantic fop who opens the movie Plan 9 from Outer Space full of fatalistic bombast declaring “We are all interested in the future for that is where you and I will be spending the rest of our lives. And remember, friends, future events such as this, will affect us in the future.”

Criswell was a minor media figure, a bit of cultural flotsam who became a television fixture during the 50s and 60s. Following his march 1963 prediction on the Jack Paar Show that JFK would not seek reelection because of something that would happen to him in Dallas, Criswell gained a reputation for accuracy – or at least boasted of having one.

He would become a frequent guest on Johnny Carson‘s The Tonight Show where Johnny would quantify his predictions as being “80% accurate- 20% of the time”.

Here is his appearance on The Tonight Show to ring in the the new year, 1966.

Of course, this kind of notoriety just screams of a book deal which leads us to today’s topic the 1968 book CRISWELL PREDICTS – from Now to the Year 2000!

This striking lime green book with the slightly psychedelic cover begins with a picture of baby Criswell and actually ends with a picture of Criswell in a coffin from the film Night of the Ghouls. The contents are even weirder.

In it he declares to have been mute until the age of four; his first words spoken during an Indiana thunderstorm. “The rain will stop” he reportedly uttered. It did. This, he points out, was his first prediction.

“My predictions are not written to win literary attention.” he writes at the end of his intro. It’s worth noting this prediction is bang on. But literary classic or not, the book is a hoot.

His first prediction in the book is entitled “HOMOSEXUAL CITIES”.

I predict that perversion will flood the land beginning in 1970. I predict a series of homosexual cities, small, compact, carefully planned areas, will soon be blatantly advertised and exist from coast to coast. These compact communities will be complete with stores, churches, bars and restaurants which will put the olden Greeks or Romans to shame with their organized orgies. You wil be able to find them near Bston, Des Moines, Columbus, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans, Dallas and Miami.

He adds that “perversion will parade shamelessly” in these cities. Was he talking about Gay Pride?

In fact, a lot of Criswell’s prediction seem to be obsessed with sexual politics. He also predicts a gaseous drug with aphroisiac qualities will overtake the land in the “Aphrodesian Era” (from May 1, 1988 to March 30, 1989). This, he writes, will cause massive perversion across the land – including a man wanting a court’s permission to marry is pet cat. It will culminate in a major sex scandal in the White House as the Secretary of State himself would be found “practising horrifying types of perversion with a group of young boys and girls”.

He also foretold that britain would legalize gay marriage in 1969 (he was off by only 35 years on that one); that no state would outlaw nudism and that Broadway shows woul have all-nude casts performing sex acts on stage.

He also predicted contraceptives would be in the water supply and that prospective parents would have to apply to the state to obtain the antidote. This, he said, was the only way of controlling the population explosion.

Frankly, reading the book is probably more entertaining now that history has unfolded. It’s a lot like sneaking a peek in a Freemason’s library and reading their alternate history. Personally, I like recounting these in the past tense. Here are some of the events you may have missed:

On August 9, 1970, a woman killed Fidel Castro.

A meteor destroyed London in 1988.

On june 9th, 1989, a “strange and terrible pressure from outer space” flattened Denver, Colorado by turning all metal into matter of rubbery consistency.

Between February 11 and May 11, 1983, women all suffered a traumatic loss of hair.

Oh, and more importantly, on August 18, 1999, the world ended.

That claim is backed up with the most irrefutable of arguments:

A study of the prophets – Nostradamus, St. Odile, Mother Shipton, The Bible—indiscates that we will cease to exist before the year 200o! Not one of these prophets even took the trouble to predict beyond the year 2000!

In other words, you shouldn’t be here. (Come to think of it- me neither.)

There are a few semi-accurate predictions in the book. One is for the disappearance of cash, to be replaced by “No coins, no bills, just a punch card” which is quite similar to our debit cards.

In addition to the book, Criswell also released an LP of predictions. Here are a few exerpts:

In his twilight years, Criswell became Mae West’s personal soothsayer. According to fellow Ed Wood alumnus Maila Nurmi (Vampira), West would cook up a storm and bring food to Criswell. Other sources say she used to sell her older cars to him for $5.

He did resurface again in a film written by Ed Wood, Orgy of the Dead, which is just a showcase for strip acts set in a cemetery.

Criswell left this mortal coil on October 4th 1982, just as the whole cult of Ed Wood was emerging. No word on wether he saw that coming or not.

Here, as an extra bonus to celebrate The Cinémasochist’s 50th post is Criswell in Night of the Ghouls (a.k.a. Revenge of the Dead), a long-lost Ed Wood film he actually has a part in. The film is often pegged as a sequel to Plan 9 from Outer Space, but in actuality, it’s a sequel to Wood’s Bride of the Monster.


Pain Level: 8/10

Quality of Pain: Predictable

Painjoyment™ Level: Sweeeeeet!


About The Cinémasochist

Artefacts from a former life where I gave a shit about cinema. As far as I’m concerned, cinema is a 20th Century art form. I no longer care and will be pulling the plug on this blog soon. View all posts by The Cinémasochist

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