Derek Winnert

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This article was written on 09 Nov 2013, and is filled under Reviews.

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Plan 9 from Outer Space **** (1956, Bela Lugosi, Vampira, Tor Johnson, Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, Mona McKinnon, Duke Moore, Tom Keene, Criswell) – So Bad It’s Good Movie 2

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Writer-director Edward D Wood Jnr’s legendarily awful 1956 cult-movie favourite is totally amazing, often hysterically funny. An all-time-great so-bad-it’s-good cult classic, it’s at the head of most people’s worst films of all time. Yet, even as you laugh at it, there’s somehow something incredibly likeable and endearing it. It’s blessed, like Wood Jnr, with a disarming innocence.

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Wood Jnr also wrote the so-called plot in which aliens try to resurrect a cemetery’s dead folk to conquer the planet. Hence the alternative, and much better, title, Grave Robbers from Outer Space, which Wood was unfortunately stopped from using.

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Tragically, the movie’s irreplaceable star Bela Lugosi was in a bad way and died after a couple of days’ filming and was replaced as the Ghoul Man by a much taller, much thinner man (Wood’s wife’s osteopath, Tom Mason) who had to shroud his face, rather unsuccessfully, with a cloak. Lugosi wore his own costume, one of the capes he used as Dracula on stage.

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Lugosi plays the old Ghoul Man grieving after the death of his wife, Vampire Girl (Vampira). He dies next day but space soldier Eros and her pal Tanna arrive on Earth and use an electrical device to resurrect them both, along with Inspector Clay (Tor Johnson) whom they’ve killed. The duo’s mission is to stop mankind from developing the universe-threatening bomb Solobonite. Seeing flying saucers in the sky, a colonel, a cop, a commercial pilot and his wife try to stop the aliens.

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It is absolutely hilarious to watch, and, unusually for a bad movie, consistently so for its 79 minutes. But it’s all more than just a little sad when you think about it afterwards. Criswell narrates the movie, providing predictions at the beginning and end. Also in the cast are Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, Mona McKinnon, Duke Moore, Criswell, Dudley Manlove, Joanna Lee, Bunny Breckinridge, Bill Ash and Norma McCarty.

Scenes from the movie are re-created lovingly in Tim Burton’s movie Ed Wood (1994).

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As it was funded by a Baptist church, several members of the cast decided to get baptised. Though it was reviewed as Grave Robbers from Outer Space in 1957, the Baptists objected to the title and the film was finally released as Plan 9 from Outer Space in July 1959, in a double bill with the British thriller Time Lock with Sean Connery.

© Derek Winnert 2013 So Bad It’s Good Movie 2 derekwinnert.com

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