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Plan 9 from Outer Space

Entry updated 21 August 2021. Tagged: Film.

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Film (1959). Reynolds Pictures. Written and directed by Edward D Wood Jr. Cast includes Criswell, Tor Johnson, Bela Lugosi, Vampira (Maila Nurmi) and Gregory Walcott. 79 minutes. Black and white.

Enduringly strange B-picture mixing UFOs and Zombies in a free-associating quasi-plot about Alien visitants reanimating the dead in an attempt to warn humanity about the cosmic destructive powers of an imminent post-Nuclear Energy technology which threatens to convert the Sun into a Holocaust machine. Following its sophomoric canonization in 1980 as "The worst movie of all time" – a title which does not even begin to plumb the barrel – the film's reception modulated away from jovial mockery of its wanton indifference to normal professional standards of script, performance, and effects, in favour of a more nuanced appreciation of its dreamlike narrative assemblage of genre tropes, resonantly unspeakable dialogue, and irrepressible budgetary ingenuity. Footage of Lugosi, shot for an unrelated project, was famously shoehorned in after the actor's death by doubling his part with Mrs Wood's much taller chiropractor, the latter masking his face with his cloak. The film's 1956 making is dramatized, minus Wood's alcoholism and other inconveniences, in Tim Burton's deadpan biopic Ed Wood (1994). [NL]

further reading

  • Edward D Wood Jr. Plan 9 from Outer Space (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Alternate Histories, 2014) [script for the film: in the publisher's Alternate Classics of Filmdom series: pb/]
  • Katharine Coldiron. Plan 9 from Outer Space (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing/Electric Dreamhouse, 2021) [nonfiction: chap: in the publisher's Midnight Movie Monograph series: hb/Neil Snowdon and David Chatton Barker]


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