Thursday, December 30, 2010

#146. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1958)

DVD Synopsis: Cult director Ed Wood's "cinematic masterpiece" – and also regarded as one of the worst movies ever made! Plan Nine is so bad it's good. Alien invaders use their dreaded "Plan Nine" to re-animate dead earthlings. They wreak havoc and unleash a host of things bizarre, macabre, horrific, and just plain horrible. Using footage from a Bela Lugosi movie he was unable to finish (due to Lugosi's untimely death), Wood proved again he would and could make a film under any circumstances. Hubcaps on wires doubling for flying saucers, stumbling living dead, concrete visible beneath fake grass, and mattresses visible for actors to fall on are just a few of the unbelievable gaffes and goofs you'll see. The result is a comical and campy spoof of science fiction movies themselves. The cast includes TV horror queen Vampira, a host of zombies, military buffoons, and Lugosi in his last performance.

"Visits? That would indicate visitors"
        - Dialogue sample, Plan 9 From Outer Space

Long considered one of the worst movies ever made, writer / director Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space has nonetheless risen to cult status, a shining example of the art of film-making at its most hilariously incompetent.

I myself am not immune to it's charms; 2001: A Space Odyssey is my all-time favorite science fiction film, yet I'm positive that, over the years, I have seen Plan 9 From Outer Space at least twice as many times as Kubrick's masterpiece. 

Of course, the film's "popularity" raises the stakes a bit for anyone trying to review it; should one react to the movie based on the filmmaker’s initial intentions, by which it must surely be classified a total failure, or is it now apropos to address what Plan 9 From Outer Space has become, namely a beloved look at how movies can sometimes go very, very wrong?  

It's not even a film you can easily summarize because the storyline is so frantic and uneven that you're constantly asking yourself, "what the hell is going on?!?". The movie jumps from scene to scene with little regard for flow or continuity; one minute, the alien spacecraft is floating peacefully above the graveyard. The next, the military is opening fire on them, even though they've done nothing wrong

So as not to be outdone, Ed Wood's dialogue is equally cringe-inducing. In the opening monologue delivered by a man known only as Criswell (a third-rate fortune-teller), we’re informed that the movie we’re about to see will have a huge impact on mankind's future. This is a vital bit of information because, according to Criswell, “The future is where you and I will be spending the rest of our lives”. 

Make no mistake, Plan 9 from Outer Space is a bad film. However, its so wonderfully awful that it has earned a place in the hearts of movie fans everywhere, and because of this, I think it's one all serious film buffs should watch at least once...

... with a group of friends and a six pack of beer.


Tigerbyte said...

Well, ten years after your review, the movie hasn't gotten any better.

Pat Conolly said...

The DVD blurb is incorrect in saying that the flying saucers were hubcaps. They were Lindberg flying saucer toy model kits.

I often think that Night of the Living Dead was initiated by another, more competent, group of the same aliens carrying Plan 9 correctly.