Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Aliens Resurrecting The Dead! Flying Saucers Over Hollywood!
Ever get the desire to watch a movie that's supposedly one of the worst movies ever made? No? Well, it can't just be me, so you get to suffer anyways. Now, keeping with the variations this October season, I've moved from undead to bizarre twists of nature, and finally to some aliens. Will it live up to the hype of being so bad to someone whose seen their fair share of Asylum movies? Read on brave viewer, but I don't think that tinfoil hat is necessary.
Plan 9 is a strange one. The plot, for what it's worth in concept, is pretty sound and appropriate to an extent that it's oddly believable. This isn't to say that it's all presented in the best manner ever, but let me not get ahead of myself. The first thing we have to contend with in this movie is an announcer. Yeah, remember radio shows from back before (at least) I was born? Well, if you said yes than you'll feel a bit more at home than some others as the announcer chimes in over the movie numerous times throughout - it really will feel a bit like a radio drama that someone just tried to flesh out with screen footage. This announcer wants us to know, to be prepared for the future - because kiddos, there's aliens out there, and they don't really like us much. As a matter of his proof, he's going to recount to us a little tale corroborated by a number of people who seem quite trustworthy.
On a homeward trip, and airplane pilot comes across something he never thought he'd see - a flying saucer! Understandably a little shaken, his copilot and he radios it in to ground to figure out what should be done, which we find out in a while is "pretend nothing happened and tell nobody" - the classic government cover up. While this UFO fly-by is taking place, some strange events are happening down below. A pair of gravediggers are finishing up after a burial ceremony when they hear a spooky noise. Deciding they don't like it very much, both of them decide to leave, only to encounter what appears to be a creepy lady with super-long claw-nails. Needless to say, our gravediggers end up dead. A while later, ridden with grief over his recently lost wife, an old man ends up dying from (an implied) car impact. Whilst leaving the funeral, a few of the guests stumble across the bodies of the gravediggers.
This gets the police searching the graveyard to figure out what happened, but it's not long till bigger things arise. Witnessed by the police and our pilot friend who lives right near the cemetery, the saucer whizzes by, blowing over furniture and throwing the police to the ground. A detective who went off by himself to search for clues meets an untimely demise from the spook-lady and the old man (who for some reason now acts like Dracula). UFOs are a thing, and it isn't long before a bunch are spotted over Hollywood and the military takes action. The saucers return to their bigger saucer, and we discover that the alien's are controlling the dead with their electrode guns, and have after being ignored and denied existence by the governments are taking a more direct action to prevent us from doing something terrible to the universe. Things proceed on this trend for a while, with the aliens returning to make more dead soldiers and deal with a problem of a few witnesses who haven't been killed. What are they trying to stop us from doing? Will they win? Can we stand a chance against an army of the dead?
So lets get some real talk going here for a minute, alright? As far as the plot thread goes, I actually do really enjoy it - and considering it's from back in 59, it doesn't feel so super over-done as it might if it came out today. The point of humans being as much a bad guy - for something we haven't done but will probably (and logically) do in the future - as the aliens is an interesting spin. With how they address humanity, it's also incredibly believable - people deny the existence of extra-terrestrial life all the time, and if you are trying to converse with someone and they constantly ignore you, it can get very agitating. The fact that these corpses aren't so much being brought back from the dead as much as simply controlled by a fancy electric ray-gun isn't as hard to swallow as something like mind control either, so even that aspect is a bit more grounded (except that part about acting like universal creatures).
Largely, that's the only highlight of the movie however. Acting can be alright to terrible - although some of the lines are still pretty enjoyable. Shots are all over the place, leading to a massive confusion as to what time of the day any of it is supposed to be at (obvious daytime shot of "vampire" in the cemetery, cut to "night" shot of the rest of the cast, back to obvious daytime shot of "vampire" again). It kind of breaks any coherency over how long these events are supposed to be taking. It also feels very highly like a "set" based movie - as in almost all the spots that aren't exterior car driving or plane flying feel as though they are crafted indoor stages (or simply just a fabric draped across the background that's obviously not outdoors). Audio is well balanced for the most part - although that music can get quite loud at times.
The costumes are pretty decent, if not confusing. Why is an old man suddenly Dracula? Why does the lady look like some kind of Elvira with super-long claw like fingernails? Yes, the costumes are still decent (although I find it hard to not laugh every time the for mentioned lady is on screen), but outside of the detective-zombie, none are particularly super astounding. Even the detective zombie's facial expression had me audible cracking up at times. Still, costumes fare much better than the saucers - half of the time you can actually see the strings holding them up! I mean, for a modern movie goer who has never seen these older, more dated movies, I can understand why they would think this was one of the worst movies ever made - even though I've seen things like strings pop up every now and then even in the modern age where digital removal of said strings can take place, so eh. The version I watched was also in black and white - although a colorized version does exist, so I can't really comment much on how the colorizing came out.
Overall, it's not exactly what I would call a good movie, but it certainly is not the worst movie I've ever seen. The effects are pretty dated, the acting can be lame (some of the deliveries can actually be painful), and moments seem to be drawn out way too long (which is strange considering the relatively short runtime). Even with that, it's still entertaining enough to be mostly enjoyable (particularly if you had a bunch of friends around I imagine), and in a way I do feel like everyone should try and check this out - if for nothing else but a time capsule that is very strange indeed. Still, I don't know if I would necessarily recommend it to anyone bat fans of low-budget flicks.