This movie is bad, and I mean bad. I’ve seen a lot of bad movies, often I end up liking them (not sure what that says about my ability to review), and if not then I can usually see some redeeming quality too them to explain why they are not as bad as everybody makes them out to be. Not this one though, this one is in a whole different category of bad, it is often sighted as “the worst movie ever made” and I think it holds that title rather well. In case you haven’t seen the movie, here are some of the many reasons why it has failed.
Special effects: the flying saucers look literally like they’re dangling on a string, not only that but we see a flying saucer the same time a pilot does, however the pilot describes the object to look like a huge cigar. Also with the flying saucer, when it lands and the humans and you can see a close up of it, you can see very clearly a 90 degree angle on the structure, which as we know round objects do not have. They didn’t even try to make the airplane cockpit look realistic, and I may be wrong but I don’t believe in the 50’s they used candlestick telephones as airplane radios, the seen would have almost been more believable if the two men were sitting on a park bench miming that they were flying a plane.
Stiff Acting: the poorly written dialogue is poorly delivered and poorly emoted with body language. Tor Johnson (who was a former Swedish Professional Wrestler turned B-Movie actor), did fine in his role as a zombie, however why they chose to make him a detective prior to being a zombie is beyond me, he is responsible for the stiffest dialog in the entire movie, noticeably the worse in a movie that is almost entirely bad dialogue. Bella Lugosi, okay you can’t control when your actors are going to die, but Ed Wood’s way of handling Lugosi’s death was horrendous, at some points he would walk around fine (scenes filmed pre-mortem) while at other points he would walk around with his cape in front of his face (scenes filmed post-mortem). These scenes however had no rhyme or reason to them, switching between throughout, and if that weren’t bad enough, the guy who filled in for Bella Lugosi didn’t even remotely have the same hairstyle, so unless you were paying attention you might not even realize that they were supposed to be the same character at all.
My biggest problem with the film, the thing that made it almost unwatchable from the onset, was the narrator, he goes on describing the scenes we are at the same time watching, luckily it cuts off about a half hour into the film, but it’s still a good 20 minutes longer then it should be.
Is there any redeeming value to the movie? Yes, there are in my opinion 2 things redeemable about this film.
First: there a brief dialoged at what would be the climactic scene of the movie in which (okay, spoiler warning here if you are actually interested in the movie for narrative purposes and haven’t seen it yet) an alien (who, besides from a different uniform and slightly more flamboyant way of taking, looks indistinguishable from a human. Seriously they couldn’t have given him antennae? A third arm? Pointed ears? Anything?) tells the humans that they are on the verge of making a bomb that will be able to explode light, and that this light bomb will inevitably go off causing the sun to explode, then causing all planets and stars that the sun’s light reaches to explode, causing a chain reaction which eventually would destroy the universe. This idea is not so farfetched as the alien describes the Hydrogen Bomb as being able to explode air, though this is a highly simplified explanation this is how the H-Bomb works, I think. And yes if light was to be exploded and cause a runaway effect then it would destroy the universe. It would take several billion years, if the explosion travels at the speed of light but it could happen. Not only that it could already have happened millions of years ago in a far flung corner of the universe and we will not be aware for a long time. So that idea is not too bad, I kind of like it, too bad it had to be used in a movie like this.
Second: this movie showcases something I like to call the perfection of awfulness, which is to say that it is a perfect movie in that it fails 100% in every imaginable way a movie can fail. Even the afore mentioned aspect of the Light Bomb, is also a failure because it inevitably plays on the human impulse to fight and destroy, yet once the point is made by the alien, he goes and attacks his human visitors out of a personal emotional response. How is this a redeeming value then? Anyone who is interested in making a film would do well to watch and study Plan 9 so that they can learn every mistake that can make a good movie bad, and thus avoid them, inevitably creating a higher percentage of good movies. Has this worked? I think yes, because since this movie was made there hasn’t been another one quite as bad, even “Manos the Hands of Fait” and “The Room” are not nearly as bad as Plan 9. This movie is even worse than some of my personal least favorite movies such as “Suckerpunch” and “Caddyshack.” It may even be worse than “The Immaginarium of Dr. Pernasses” though I was not even able to make it through that one, so we’ll call it a push.
The only thing missing in the DVD is a commentary option where you can listen to the MST3K gang make fun of the film in progress. Also a Jerry Seinfeld commentary track would not be out of the question either, as the film is referenced in two Seinfeld episodes: “The Chinese Restaurant” and “The Postponement” both times Jerry tries to go see the movies and both times he misses it.