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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sean Kelly

Blindspot: The Cult of 2013: Plan 9 from Outer Space

plan_nine_from_outer_spaceEdward D. Wood Jr. is infamous for being the “worst director of all time” and his magnum opus Plan 9 from Outer Space does indeed qualify as a “bad” film.  As the narrator Criswell appeared in the opening moments to introduce this tale of grave robbers from the stars, I knew that this film was going to be a piece of campy trash.  Indeed, as you are watching this film, you have to put up with bad dialogue, obviously fake flying saucers, and a plot that takes place on maybe five sets.  Then of course, there is the infamous posthumous inclusion of Bela Lugosi, with the help of a stand-in, who looks nothing like him.

So, let’s rundown the “plot” of the film shall we?  Aliens are upset that the Earth’s governments won’t acknowledge their existence.  As such, they exact “Plan 9,” which involves using their “electro rays” to reanimate the dead.  How reanimating the dead will help their situation is beyond me.  The reanimated ghouls are played by Ed Wood’s regulars, including Swedish brute Tor Johnson and former TV host Vampira.  Then of course, there is Bela Lugosi, whose role I really have to talk about in more detail.

As documented in Tim Burton’s biopic Ed Wood, Lugosi couldn’t really escape the typecasting that resulted after his star-making role in the 1931 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Despite being washed up and drug-addicted by the 1950s, Lugosi was embraced by Ed Wood, who cast Lugosi in many of his films.  Towards the end of Lugosi’s life, Wood had shot some non-contextual footage of the actor.  Wood started work on Plan 9 From Outer Space after Lugosi’s death and specifically wrote the story around the footage of Lugosi.  As such, the final film has Lugosi seen in one shot, with the next shot being a stand-in covering his face with a cape.  Even though the stand-in is obviously not Lugosi, it is definitely interesting how Wood tried to incorporate the Lugosi footage into the film.

I do have to say that I found that there was a certain “charm” to Plan 9 from Outer Space.  While the film doesn’t really make an inch of sense and Ed Wood probably couldn’t write a coherent screenplay if his life depended on it, I still found myself strangely intrigued by the film.  Calling a film “bad” or “the worse film of all time” is ultimately subjective.  While the film is definitely “bad” in terms of plot and acting, at the very least I was able to watch it all the way through and I probably won’t be entirely against watching it again.

There are definitely films that I’ve seen, which resulted in such a bad viewing experience that I wanted to erase my memory of ever seeing that film.  Plan 9 from Outer Space wasn’t one of those films.

6 | WATCHABLE

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).