Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

Directed by Ed Wood Jr.

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Plan 9 From Outer Space, once dubbed the worst movie ever made, combines Cold War era fear mongering with gothic era horror and a forced message about man’s capability to self-destruct.  All of these ideas, in their own way, offer something of value, but it is poorly held together, bursting at the low budget seams of a film which exists exclusively on tiny, shoddy studio sets.  Tombstones are aggressively made of plastic, and UFO interiors are just a series of tall curtains and wooden chairs.

But this was Ed Wood’s thing.  He made high-concept sci-fi films with the tiniest of budgets.  If a story calls for aliens, UFOs, zombies, vampires and an ensemble cast of characters from across the country, well you can imagine the budget’s steady inflation, but here he attempts to pull it off with what looks like the resources scrounged up from a moderately successful Kickstarter campaign.

The story involves a pilot, his wife, a couple policemen and some high ranking government defensemen.  They will be brought together in the slow realization that aliens exist and that they’ve raised the dead.  Well, they’ve raised three dead people in Burbank.

Part of the absurdity of all this is that it’s a story about aliens (who love a good monologue) that have their eyes set on world extermination but who spend the entire film focusing in on a small handful of people.  For reasons that escape me now, they lure the handful of important characters into their ship in order to explain why they’ve decided to unleash vampires and zombies on the world.  But they haven’t really.

The scope of this movie is much smaller than promised, but that makes a lot of sense when you see what it’s working with.  It’s so bad, uneven and painfully self-confident that it’s hard to even talk about.  It’s not even that fun because of that self-importance.

Taking a step back, there are a few interesting ideas, and there’s something charming about the blend of at the time contemporary fears and gothic horror.  There’s also an indictment of the ways humans have built increasingly complex technology capable of their own extermination, and well you get the idea.  There’s something on the mind here, something to be said, but the story is so flimsy, it’s just tough to get through.

I suppose that’s all there is to say.

Up Next: The Beach Bum (2019), Selma (2014), Dumbo (2019)

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