Anthony's Film Review

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Plan 9 is truly a classic among bad films (and no, that is not a compliment)...

Edward D. Wood Jr.'s career in directing movies has been defined by a series of low-quality films. His crowning achievement (or, rather, crowning failure) is the 1959 science-fiction motion picture Plan 9 from Outer Space, a cult classic that is so badly made that people love to watch it just for the purpose of ridiculing it. Among those people is a friend of mine who, one day, recommended that I watch this movie as well as the 1994 film Ed Wood (for which I have written a separate review). As someone who's always curious about the hype of particular films, I said, "Why not?"

Let me say this right now. The overwhelming consensus about Plan 9 is true. The film really does suck. It is riddled with so many mistakes that the following review essentially centers on the cinematic blunders that stood out most for me. It is so bad that it's worth showing in film schools, not as an example of a cinematic masterpiece, but as an example of how NOT to make a movie. Allow me to illustrate what Plan 9 is like.

First things first, the opening scene. It features a narrator named Criswell introducing the story to the audience. One thing that's noticeable is how this man's head doesn't stay completely still. It's often bobbing up and down, a sign that he is focused less on engaging us and more on just saying his lines. Oh, and speaking of lines, the words that he is reciting just sound weird, especially the first few sentences: "Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future." Apparently, Ed Wood was also a terrible screenwriter.

Next item on my list: flying saucers. Or, rather, WOBBLING flying saucers. As if they're nothing more than prop UFOs hanging from strings as they are carried across miniature model sets. Oh wait. If you look carefully, you can actually SEE the strings themselves. And don't even think about trying to suspend disbelief. It's impossible to do it. Think about it. How can flying saucers that also wobble across the sky even be aerodynamically stable? If you think that's bad, there's a shot of a planet as the flying saucers take off from it, in which one of the flying saucer models casts a shadow on the planet model, as if there's actually a partial eclipse of the planet by a relatively tiny spaceship.

Allow me to briefly summarize the plot premise to show how stupid it is. It involves aliens resurrecting dead humans to terrorize planet Earth. Not bad, except that only three corpses are brought to life in this movie without explanation as to why. That's only part of the problem. You see, the reanimated corpses are unbelievably unconvincing. In a decent film, a makeup artist would repaint the actors' faces to make them look like they've been buried for a long time. But in Plan 9, the corpses have pretty much no makeup. The actors, including Tor Johnson and Vampira, just act like zombies, even though they look almost completely human.

And speaking of unconvincing characters, the alien characters are just as bad. If there were a costume designer to make the alien characters really look like aliens, that would be great. But no. Just like the reanimated corpses, the aliens are terribly unconvincing. They are nothing more than humans in fancy clothes. Seriously. They talk and act so much like Earthlings that I could care less if their clothes are from another planet. The fight scene in the climax (if you want to call it that) between the aliens and a few human characters really looks like different humans fighting.

There are certainly more mistakes in Plan 9 from Outer Space than what I've described here, but I have no need to go further. What I've detailed thus far are things that stood out most for me. If they sound bad to you, then you can understand why this is one flawed movie. While I didn't experience any unpleasant feelings watching Plan 9, the poor artistic quality of the movie is enough to warrant my lowest rating, in agreement with what most have said about the movie. So my word on this is official. Plan 9 from Outer Space is a crappy movie, and Ed Wood should be ashamed for being such a crappy writer and director.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Plan 9 from Outer Space, visit the Internet Movie Database.

In addition, check out my review of the topically related film Ed Wood.


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