Written by: Carroll Jenkins on July 24th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1959
Director: Edward D. Wood Jr.
Writer: Edward D. Wood Jr.
Cast: Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Duke Moore, Tom Keene, Carl Anthony, Paul Marco, Tor Johnson, Dudley Manlove, Joanna Lee, John Breckinridge, Lyle Talbot, David De Mering, Norma McCarty, Bill Ash, Reverend Lynn Lemon, Ben Frommer, Gloria Dea, Conrad Brooks, Vampira, Bela Lugosi, Criswell
DVD released: June 16th, 2009
Approximate running time: 79 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Legend Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.95
There have been a lot of cheap shots directed at director Ed Wood, Jr. over the years. The Medved brothers started the ball rolling with their book The Golden Turkey Awards (1980), but almost immediately there were attempts to defend Ed’s sullied reputation, as in Danny Peary’s 1981 book Cult Movies (1981). The greatest homage to the man and the film was Tim Burton’s biopic Ed Wood which focused upon three Wood movies to tell his tale: Glen Or Glenda, Bride Of The Monster, and Plan Nine From Outer Space. What Burton and his cronies did so expertly was to lampoon the deficiencies of the film, while championing the zeal and vision of Wood and his cohorts. To best enjoy Plan Nine, watch Ed Wood first. You will then be prepared to appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Some of the targets are decidedly unfair and beyond the control of Ed Wood: a) the original title was Grave Robbers From Outer Space (which does make more sense), b) the lab work to process the day for night photography was never done (probably due to expenses), c) the film was shot for matted presentation, but has always been displayed open matte for television airings (DVD’s have always maintained this unintended ratio).
Let’s examine the strengths of the film. First and foremost an eccentric and iconic cast including Tor Johnson, Vampira, Bunny Breckinridge, Criswell, Dudley Manlove (Creation Of The Humanoids) and Joanna Lee (a prolific and award winning television writer). Not to mention Bela Lugosi and his chiropractor double. Second, the fast editing keeps the action coming, and the memorable dialog keeps the talk scenes moving. Is there atmosphere in outer space? Of course not, but modern viewers give the techo babble in the Trek franchise a wide berth. Danny Peary concludes that Plan 9 is a subversive film and that Wood’s denouncement of the human races as both foolish and self destructive manifests from his combat experience in WWII.
The B&W full frame feature is presented with or without the rifftrax. Because of the vast amount of dialog, both narration and conversation, the riffers are constantly shouting their jokes over top the dialog. And the jokes are kitchen sink caliber. The pilot says, “we’re approaching the San Fernando Valley”, and the riffer quips, “you can smell the Botox from here”. Really, they were using cosmetic botox injections in 1956? Yeah, well they weren’t approved by the FDA until 2002. Want to criticize continuity?
This DVD presents an adequate transfer in non-OAR format. Watch Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, and then the next night have a double feature of Bride Of The Monster and Plan Nine From Outer Space. “Future events such as these will affect you in the future.”