Plan 9 From Outer Space

Title: Plan 9 From Outer Space
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, (Comedy)
Starring: Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, Mona McKinnon
Director: Ed Wood

“There's no doubt about it, he's been murdered. And SOMEBODY is responsible for it”

For those that are unfamiliar with the name of Ed Wood, it is a name that was re-discovered in the 80s for being quite possibly the worst director to have ever lived. His name often gets compared to Uwe Boll but there are some fundamental differences between their work; whilst Boll exploits German legislation to continually fund his films, Ed Wood, well he didn't fund his films, and even Boll isn't delusional enough to think them masterpieces. They are budget enough to use hubcaps with wires attached to them as the special effects for the flying saucers in this film. The tombstones are usually cardboard someone's written on. The plots are, well perhaps I better just explain the plot here; aliens invade and initiate “Plan 9,” a scheme to use electrodes to revive the dead to prevent us from destroying the universe. None of this gets elaborated on further, except for how we'd destroy the universe by throwing a gas canister at the sun and explode sunlight or something equally nonsensical.

The dead look like some sort of zombies vampires cliché mash-up – excluding the zombie woman dressed like Marilyn Manson and sporting a ridiculously tiny waist, now THAT'S frightening – except for the fact that they don't eat flesh or drink blood, which makes their existence and purpose in wanton killing all the more confusing. Adding to the puzzle are the victims without a scratch on them, just apparently instantly dying when they see these demonic creatures from beyond the grave, and err... the planet. Not that we can actually know for sure, given that he quickly moves onto the next scene, not just before their final moments as in many other horror films, but before we actually know how it's going to end, leaving a big leap in what we have to figure out. Now that I think about it, I don't even know why some become more vampiric and other became more zombified, but that's just another puzzle about this work I guess.

The pacing of the whole piece is never slow or boring, but with all these gaps it sometimes feels closer to those TV shows that open with “Previously, on...;” where they condense the hours that preceded it into a brief, minute long catch-up session to remind you of what actually happened. Except here, we obviously haven't the faintest idea of what happened. Every time the narrator mentions something; a man looking up, a jet fighter and so on, he has to cut to a short scene showing us the action or object in question, as though the audience might be unaware of these mysterious things he's talking about. Normally I can say 'at least this actor made a worthy contribution,' but here? No. Nobody can act very well, on a grading scale from a minor and ignorable annoyance to that narrator who, despite only having the job of reading aloud, still manages to put on a bad Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” accent that just sounds irritating.

In my quest to find the worst film ever made, this commonly spouted example of how to do everything wrong doesn't even come close. It's dreadful, yes, and there are certainly plenty of points for improvement. Maintaining a better sense of coherence, better elaborating on plot points and explanations for events, and so on and so forth, but there are elements I loved about this too. The special effects, and in particular the sound effects are so often accidentally hilarious, but even that isn't a patch on the script so often stating the obvious in such a serious and deadpan manner. No it doesn't make an awful lot of sense, but that's half the charm, and quite frankly I haven't laughed this hard at a film for quite a while.


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