Plan 9 From Outer Space

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Plan 9 From Outer Space

Post  BoG on Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:04 pm




Just what is Plan 9... really about, anyway? If you watch carefully, you may finally figure out, very near the end of the picture, that Ed Wood's plot hinges on this solar bomb threat that the aliens are worried mankind will develop. It's really a mystery up until this late point in the story; flying saucers are sighted all over, the military keeps it hush-hush, no one knows what these aliens want, the saucers fly too low and tend to force people to fall over and, for some very odd reason, resurrecting three of the characters in the story into walking zombies is a major goal of the aliens.

TOR JOHNSON!  Exclamation  affraid  BELA LUGOSI! Exclamation  What a Face  VAMPIRA! Exclamation  Shocked
As I watched this all the way through, for perhaps the first time, I wondered how all these plot points would come together - what is the missing piece of the puzzle Ed Wood will put in place by the end? Of course, it didn't all fall into place by the end but I sort of breathed a sigh of relief when the alien (Dudley Manlove in a deliriously bad performance) finally revealed his concerns about Solaranite ('What? There's no such thing!'). And it happens during perhaps the most well-known & best scene in the movie: the alien is insulting and excitable in this story, unable to hide his contempt for Earthlings ("Stupid! Stupid!"), receiving a backhand blow from the stalwart hero (Greg Walcott), who is obviously very patriotic about such things. It's one of those scenes that fans can watch over & over.
_________
This is what it is - a case study of how not to put a film together. I should know - in my twenties, I was in a similar situation to Wood. I had some super-8 footage shot during my late teens which I didn't know what to do with. I finally grouped together some friends and shot some more footage to align, as best I could, with the older stuff. All because I did my best doesn't mean the result was good. No, it was quite bad. As bad as Wood's 'masterpiece' of ineptness? Probably worse, but I had a smaller crew than him. One of the weaknesses of Plan 9... (and there are too many to mention here) is that it's a patchwork. Most of us know, for example, that Lugosi's footage was shot earlier and had nothing to do with the story of Plan 9... Was Wood clever in how he, er, spliced it in? We may applaud his resourcefulness, but that does not a good movie make. Wood's use of stock footage - not too shabby. But, stock footage is rarely a criteria for good films, except perhaps for documentaries.

It boils down to the fact (yes, these are the shocking facts) that every single scene has something wrong with it. I'm not exaggerating - every scene! In fact, in some scenes, every single shot has something wrong with it. If it's not the background, it's something in the senseless dialogue. The most professional scene is probably with Lyle Talbot, his one scene as a general, but its very static - a 2-person dialogue-driven scene in a room. Champions of this picture claim that it's rarely boring, perhaps the most important element to judge a film by; my friend, this is not the case - quite a few scenes, like the one just mentioned, drag on and on.

Why has this become so popular - a cult favorite? To some extent, judging films is a subjective process; check out the votes for this on IMDb: the majority gave it one star; but the 2nd highest number of people gave it 10 stars! (do we detect stuffing a ballot box?). Many viewers, especially aspiring filmmakers and film students, find this movie very instructional. Others find the exercise of finding the aforementioned wrong things in every scene to be quite amusing. I have to admit, I was sick when I watched this the last time (or was it some dream?) and it still made me chuckle in a few spots. Best acting: Breckinridge as the effeminate alien leader; worst: the guy who plays Danny the co-pilot. BoG's Score: 1 out of 10
Trivia From Outer Space: much of how this film was made is depicted in Tim Burton's Ed Wood (1994); in that film, Johnny Depp portrayed the director, with Martin Landau in the role of Bela, Bill Murray as Breckinridge and George 'The Animal' Steele as Tor Johnson; as so portrayed, Ed Wood looked upon this film as the one he would be remembered for and it is indeed his most famous film; as also shown in the '94 film, Plan 9 was financed by a group of Baptists who tried to interfere with Wood's work because they saw him as inept. An odd remake, taking itself more seriously, arrived on DVD in March, 2015, being more the latest zombie flic than an alien invasion.
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