In 1980, Michael and Harry Medved released a book titled “The Golden Turkey Awards” having apparently sat through 2000 terrible movies in order to award them prestigious Golden Turkeys – symbols of awfulness. This release came 2 years after another book: The Fifty Worst Films of All Time, so clearly they knew a thing or two about bad movies. A lot has changed since 1980, however, so when I learned that they had named Plan 9 From Outer Space as the worst film ever made and awarded it the precious Turkey, I thought I’d better check it out and see exactly how bad it really is.
Sure enough, the entire movie is a strange mixture of a strange plot, bad writing and often terrible acting. This film reel fart is the brainchild of Ed Wood, famous for writing, directing and producing a number of independent, low-budget, fucking terrible movies during the 1950s and 60s, usually with a very ‘campy’ feel to them. This is obviously no exception, and he certainly deserves his own Golden Turkey awarded for his work as the ‘Worst Director’.
The plot can’t really be summarised quickly and actually make sense, but let’s just say that aliens have landed on Earth (decidedly human looking aliens at that) and, being shunned by Earth’s governments who – for literally no reason – deny their existence, instigate ‘Plan 9’ to raise the dead and destroy humanity before humans can discover Solaronite – a substance so powerful that, when weaponised, can explode sunlight and cause a chain reaction that would destroy the universe. Just let that sink in for a moment. It’s so weird, it’s nothing short of fucking genius, isn’t it? Get me some Solaronite and let’s get into this anal fissure of a movie!
Our main character (sort of, but not really… it’s really hard to tell) is an airline pilot, Jeff Trent (Gregory Walcott) who, along with his co-pilot, Danny (David De Mering), notices a bright flash of light in the sky then sees a flying saucer going along casually and hover near a graveyard. They dismiss this incident entirely because they’re ridiculous idiots – “Well whatever it was, it’s gone now”. Soon after, funeral goers are killed by a zombie (Malia Nurmi – famous for her character Vampira during the 50s and apparently a close friend of James Dean). So right from the get-go we have at least two guys see the aliens zipping about and zombies attacking people. You’d think this would spawn lots more zombies, but there’s literally 3 or 4 in the whole thing. Nice army of zombies there. This also makes the whole alien shtick about Earth’s governments ignoring their pleas and pretending they don’t exist seem pretty silly because clearly they can just fly around and show off to everyone just how real they fucking are. Dumbasses – one of the big problems of this movie actually. Everyone in it is a moron and the acting is terrifically wooden. The screams are the most convincing things in it. Those are just swell.
There’s an Old Man (capitalised because that’s how he’s credited), whose wife was dead and for whom the funeral was, and he dies because he stupidly gets hit by a car and then the aliens turn him into a zombie. At his funeral, people actually notice that all the people from the prior funeral had been attacked and call the police, who arrive and say stupid things while one detective, Daniel Clay (Tor Johnson) goes for a look around only to be killed by the zombies… what a shock. This does lead to the best line in the movie though – “Inspector Clay’s dead. Murdered. And SOMEBODY’S responsible.” Yeah, he also turns into a zombie after his funeral. Meanwhile three saucers are buzzing about awkwardly on strings (probably flying drunk) and are sighted over Hollywood Boulevard among other locations, but the ‘Chief of Saucer Operations’ (Tom Keene) covers them up because he’s a nob.
We then get to meet the stupid aliens. The main one is called Eros (Dudley Manlove… I’ll give him some man love right now!) and speaks to his leader about Earth ignoring them and then saying they should implement Plan 9, which they have actually already done, so this whole scene was a waste of time. We do learn that the aliens can control the zombies though, by using an.. Electrode gun, I think, which malfunctions and causes zombie Clay to attack Eros before the gun thing starts working again. Basically highlighting how fucking stupid their plan is, while also highlighting the fact that they’ve raised 3 zombies so far and are talking about taking over the planet… We then learn that the Pentagon knows why the aliens are there, and have been around for ages, but have been ignoring them because they’re just shitty people.
The aliens also hatch another silly plan to scare people by having the zombie Old Man chases a police officer into the Trent’s yard as they are interviewed by more police. Eros then fires a ‘decomposer ray’ at the Old Man who rapidly decomposes. Obviously he hoped to freak everyone out and put them off looking for his main ship near the cemetery, but they just sort of look at the smouldering corpse and say “He didn’t look like that a minute ago.” No. SHIT.
Long story short, Jeff and a few of the police go and find the aliens, while Eros has zombie Clay kidnap Paula Trent (Mona McKinnon) to lure them in. He chats to them a bit about the whole Solaronite thing while police officers chat about how their guns are useless against the zombies, so they sneak up on zombie Clay and hit him on the head with a shitty piece of wood and somehow that kills him… again? Eros then loses his shit and he and Jeff have a silly fight that’s rubbish while the ship catches fire. Jeff knocks Eros out and escaped with the others while a girl alien flies the saucer away before it explodes and that’s the fucking end kill me please do it do it now end it I can’t go on. I forgot, there’s also a narrator in this who’s barely in it… but he’s not in the least important. In fact he’s only in it at all because Wood got ‘The Amazing’ Criswell – a famously inaccurate Psychic – to do it. “We’re all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.” Tool. Destroy All Humans (2005) takes the piss out of this whole scene though, so reference, I guess.
And there it is, friends. That’s more or less what happens in the film. It’s pretty terrible. Obviously. But is it deserving of the title: Worst Movie ever made? I would say, in all honesty, NO. The Last fucking Airbender movie is a lot worse than this, for one simple reason: this is actually quite amusing to watch. It’s terrible, but it’s terrible in one of the good ways, by some freak stroke of luck. I mean, it’s bloody ridiculous! The dialogue is lousy, the acting is stilted and the visual effects are laughable. This adds up to a concoction of pure strangeness that anyone in their right mind would have trouble making up… I guess Ed Wood was never in his right mind then. This does not commit the ultimate sin that a bad movie can commit: It is not very boring. I actually wanted to sit and watch it until the end because I was intrigued in a self flagellatory kind of way. Not gonna lie, I actually quite liked the whole idea behind that Solaronite stuff. Sounds quite cool really, if you think exploding sunlight molecules might be something you’re up for on a saturday night. The rest of the plot is total assetry though.
So yeah, watch this if you want; I ain’t gonna stop you. It’s an experience, that’s for sure. But the worst movie ever? Nah. Times have changed, and I’m afraid I’ve got a lot more shit to sit through before I even come close to that, I reckon. Hell, The Last Airbender is fucking up there…
So have you seen Plan 9? If so, what the hell did you think of this hilarious mess? Is it the worst film YOU’VE ever seen? As always, any constructive criticism or comments are very much appreciated. Follow me on Twitter @snakeintheplane for updates on whatever other sweet Solaronite I might be writing about and I’ll see you guys when we take a look at the next Snake in the Plane!