Every so often there comes along a director who is able to achieve immense fame, despite the fact that his talent for filmmaking is barely comparable to a drugged chimpanzee’s, and that every single movie he releases makes you want to claw out the eyes of your loved ones so they may be spared ever having to watch them.
I’m referring, of course, to filmmaker Michael Bay. But, even more rare is the director who becomes a legend because his movies are terrible. And, at the top of that very short list of anti-geniuses is the director of this week’s movie, Edward Wood Jr. If you’ve ever seen the biographical movie about his life, you’ll know that not only did Mr. Wood look remarkably similar to Edward Scissorhands, but also was completely, single-mindedly dedicated to his craft. And while he directed no less than 18 horrible movies, Plan 9 From Outer Space is regarded by most experts (most notably, myself) to be his masterpiece.
Jeff Trent: Dashing airline pilot who is the first to visually identify the alien ships. Literally cannot tell the difference between a cigar and a saucer (if that ain’t a Freudian such-and-such, I don’t know what is.)
There is a LOT of ridiculous crap to love about this film and because of this, it really bears repeated viewing. After you’ve read this insightful blog post (and sent the link to at least 15 of your closest friends), I suggest you watch Plan 9 all the way through, a minimum of three times. Consecutively, of course, and preferably in one evening. I recommend that you block off an entire night on the calendar in your kitchen, so you aren’t disturbed. It would also probably be a good idea to drug your family or roommates or pet for the evening, just in case.
What are some of the things that I love about Plan 9? Good question. And while simply reading the opinions and judgements I post here could never replace the actual movie-watching experience, it probably comes damn close:
Obviously, one cannot deny that the mere presence of film legend, Bela Lugosi, is this movie’s greatest asset. He plays an elderly man (great casting!) who dies very early in the story, to be later re-animated by the sinister aliens that are invading the earth. Please note that one of the side-effects of this reincarnation technology is that you return as a vampire. This is quite fortunate, because Bela Lugosi happens to be very good at pretending to be a vampire — and not as good at pretending to be a space-zombie. Ed Wood knew this about Bela, and was a gifted enough screenwriter to work it into the plot! And that, my friends, is why some people call Mr. Wood a genius. I wish more directors would follow his lead, and give roles to actors based on what they’re proven to be good at. For example, only cast Bill Paxton as a spineless, whining pain-in-the-ass. Or only let Matthew McWhatsizname play emotionally underdeveloped hicks.
What’s also great about this movie is that everybody gets to have a gun! They’re practically handing them out like take-out menus. Not only that, but everyone handles their firearms with such an amusingly casual disregard for safety. They wave them around and gesture with them, use them like pointer sticks, whisk eggs with them, etc.
The extraterrestrials get guns too, which look like your typical rocket-with-a-handle shaped ray guns. Theirs, however, are more like mind control devices that they use to command their undead human slaves. The alien visitors make it rather clear that they are against guns and weapons in general. Certainly a noble philosophy, though doubtless the reason for their overly complicated “Resurrect all the dead humans one-by-one, and make them kill everybody on earth” plan (which ultimately fails). Probably, if they had considered relaxing their rules about firearms, and just blown earth away with a giant space-cannon, things may have gone better for them. But it’s never easy taking the moral high-road, is it?
For all the nonsense there is to be found in this movie, there is also a message. There are a few messages, actually, and most of them kind of contradict each other. But the one that Ed Wood seems most determined to ram down our popcorn holes is summed up in the following clip. Okay! See you next time!