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Friday, October 9, 2015

PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE -- Movie Review by Jason Hernandez

(Welcome to guest reviewer Jason Hernandez as he gives us his thoughts on this Ed Wood classic!)

If you're a fan of classic American trash, you've got PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) in your blood.

Maybe it's not your favorite movie. Maybe you've never even seen the whole thing, but you at least know the trivia and the famous lines and you can identify it from a single frame.

It's folklore at this point. Its cheap sets—that patio by the cemetery, that shitty airplane cockpit—are iconic. Its simple props and costumes deserve to be in a museum (though they probably ended up in the garbage).

Burned into your memory are moments like heavyweight wrestler Tor Johnson struggling to rise from his grave, no-waisted Vampira glaring aloofly into the camera, the chiropractor who stands in for the recently deceased Bela Lugosi behind a raised cape, the cops bantering in the graveyard, flying saucers dangling from strings over Hollywood and Criswell's stern introduction.

It's one of the top freaky roadside attractions on film history's long highway and a sci-fi/horror good time made by one of the movies' great misfits and you're a little cooler just for giving it a chance at all.

You're even more cool if you don't laugh all of the way through it. Yes, its blunders are legendary. Yes, its acting is atrocious. Yes, writer/director Wood cuts budgetary corners all over the place and writes dialogue so earnestly awkward that no parody tops it.

But how about a salute for how thunderously unique it all is, too? More than any other movie, Plan 9 From Outer Space has taught film fans the value of so-called "bad taste" and how clumsy artifacts can have an infinitely greater pull on the imagination than a slick piece of polished product could ever manage.

REEFER MADNESS has kitsch for days, but it's got no heart and no mystery. It's not fascinating. PINK FLAMINGOS is one of the funniest film comedies ever made, but it's also an art project from filmmakers who saw the bad reviews coming, for whom irony is second nature and who often made a joke out of their limited production values.

Compared to them, Ed Wood is a true wild man of Borneo. He was just a movie fan who wanted to make some screen chills and thrills with Bela Lugosi and who scrambled hard to get it done. He made 'em with more enthusiasm than talent and more love than money—and in his lifetime got more pain than glory for his trouble.

GLEN OR GLENDA? is his personal film while PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is his genre peak produced under the kind of duress that would have made a less driven director give up. It's a movie that hangs out in cemeteries, digs into goverment UFO conspiracy and holds up sixty years later as exotic.

Aliens landed in Hollywood in the 1950s. See Ed Wood's whole filmography for proof.


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