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Ed Wood’s classic clunker Plan 9 from Outer Space dares to ask that question:  If two easily-defeated, more-mindless-than-usual zombies attacked a few townsfolk, would it be enough to conquer the world?  Also, couldn’t space aliens who look like ordinary people be the ones to re-animate these few hostile, deceased assailants?  Do we ask or address these questions out of boredom or inspiration?  Either way, this movie exists.  

This is a movie that tries to land with a crash but is more of a dull thud, yet it’s still likable somehow. In fact, hit’s primarily enjoyable because of all the horror themes scattered throughout.  Characters visit the graveyard so often that there might as well be a cemetery bus. I also love how everyone knows something is up, yet no one’s well-written enough to truly convey a sense of mystery or wonder, and the actors seem lethargic, only conveying excitement or interest by occasionally raising their speaking volumes.

Plan 9 from Outer Space:  A silly and tragic tale?

As many horror fans already know, Plan 9 from Outer Space was the final film for legendary actor Bela Lugosi.  Though certainly not his finest film, this fact surely shapes our impressions of this film, perhaps even softening some of its rough edges.  Bela himself plays a rather sad character, especially during the moments the character is alive.  Basically, we know him as a mourner of his recently deceased wife who — perhaps in a stupor, perhaps even in suicide mode — wanders into oncoming traffic and seals his own fate (the moment is offscreen, so we don’t entirely know how gross his death is).  

Interestingly, the Bela character seems to retain more intelligence than the other reanimated dead.  He seems to be at least vaguely more self-aware, cloaking his face behind a cape.  It’s certainly an ode to Lugosi’s character of Dracula, even though the old mourner is no vampire, warlock, or anything like that. More realistically, it was also to conceal the fact that, during most of the old man’s scenes in Plan 9 from Outer Space, he’s actually played by Tom Mason, who was Ed Wood’s wife’s chiropractor at the time.

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Plan 9’s wacky moments

In terms of addressing the film’s wackiness, where does one begin?  One place might be with the film’s cops.  No, these police officers aren’t quite baton-wielding brutes in suits, but they often wave their guns around or use them to scratch their foreheads, and usually with their fingers on the trigger.  In other words, if you’re around this police department, you’ll probably want to have body armor.

Also, during numerous scenes, the interiors of airplanes look incredibly unconvincing.  Basically, it looks like one of these planes would rattle apart the very second they take off!  You also have headstones that wobble in the graveyard scenes (extra funny considering so many scenes take place in or near the graveyard).  Basically, watching “Plan 9 from Outer Space” can be like combing through wreckage to find out what went wrong, like a forensics investigation.  Still, even if some of these things are accidental, they are what Bob Ross might have called “happy accidents.”  

Scariest moments?  

Unless someone’s out of their minds or very easily frightened, they probably won’t be scared by Plan 9 from Outer Space, even a little bit.  Still, the question of “What’s the scariest moment” is a fun kind of challenge.  Personally, I would say it’s when Vampire Girl (Maila Nurmi) attacks and kills the gravediggers (J. Edward Reynolds and associate producer Hugh Thomas, Jr.).  Though also comical, her fixed, horrified expression is at least borderline scary, and those gravediggers seemed like hapless everymen who certainly don’t deserve their offscreen fate.

Then again, one supposes many would choose Inspector Clay’s corpse (Tor Johnson), who also comes equipped with a horrible grimace.  As an added bonus, Plan 9 from Outer Space is still more watchable than The Beast of Yucca Flats, where Tor Johnson plays someone changed into a mindless menace after getting bombed, rather than being destroyed by the bomb blast.
That movie is somehow considerably worse!  

The legacy of Plan 9

Most of us like good movies, but it sometimes pays to head off in a different direction and watch a real stinker.  Oddly enough, this one doesn’t have the worst cast imaginable, but no doubt simply wasn’t pushed in the best direction to create truly inspiring performances. Put Ralph Bellamy in a total clunker movie and you’d probably still have some things be “off.” Then again, oddly enough, we might not even discuss this film today had it been conventionally better.

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Every character is as goofy as the gravediggers, even if it’s not as conventionally funny as Leslie Nielsen was.  Also, at the very least, this movie gave everyone from Ed Wood to the crew members something to do.  I can, on some level, laugh at and enjoy the encounters between the main cast and the lackluster aliens (Dudley Manlove and Joanna Lee), the male and female zombies, Jeff the pilot (Gregory Walcott), and his phony cockpit and stirring speech about being “muzzled by army brass.” This movie also gave us Ed Wood, which was a box office bomb but a critical success and well worth checking out.

What are your thoughts on Plan 9 From Outer Space? Assuming you’re not muzzled by army brass, let us know in the comments!

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Stevie

    February 3, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    I never got people who said this film was the worst thing in existence.

    I mean it’s enjoyable fun albeit forgettable.

    Plus other films I’ve watched considered better really. . . weren’t XD

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Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Little Gold Man

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Last night’s episode of American Horror Story Delicate was wild. From its star-studded start to its powerfully quiet finish, I was enthralled through every moment.

Let’s discuss.

The story

We begin this episode at the funeral of Dex’s mom. While he’s giving a eulogy, which was very nice, Ms. Preecher walks in. She shouts to the room that Virginia didn’t commit suicide, she was murdered. She also tells Dex to listen to his wife.

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What a concept!

Touched by this, or maybe just curious, Anna goes to the hospital to check on Preecher. She falls asleep at the hospital. When she wakes up, Preecher is gone. A nurse says that she was discharged to a group of women.

While at the hospital, Anna also discovers that she’s been nominated for best actress.

Kim Kardashian in American Horror Story Delicate.

At a publicity event for the awards, Anna runs into Cora. And she sees the coat she remembers from her late-night visit near the start of her pregnancy.

With the slightest amount of pressure, Cora spills it all. She and Dex have been having an affair, and Cora was trying to sabotage Anna’s pregnancy. So Anna, channeling her inner Madison Montgomery, kicks him out and heads to the awards ceremony with Siobhan.

There, Siobhan asks her if she wants an Oscar more than anything. If she’d be willing to give up anything for it.

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And Anna says yes.

The bargain is then sealed with a kiss.

Kim Kardashian and Emma Roberts in American Horror Story Delicate.

What worked

I’d like to begin, paradoxically, at the end of the episode. We’ve seen Anna have some terrible, loud, frightening hallucinations in this season. At least, we assume they’re hallucinations. But this one wasn’t loud. It was, in fact, very quiet. Anna is led off stage, without a word, leaving nothing but a puddle of blood behind.

In horror, like in all art, the notes you don’t play are as important as the ones you do. And the notes that weren’t played her rang like a bell.

I also appreciated that this episode describes why being a celebrity would be a huge pain in the ass. Imagine going to an event where the whole purpose is for people to take pictures of you while holding their product. Imagine if they invaded your personal space, sprayed things on you, put things over your eyes, and you were expected to smile and pose.

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I don’t know what it is about being a celebrity that makes others feel entitled to a person. To talk with them, take their time, and share in their moments. To touch them without consent. Yes, there are way worse things happening to people. But this isn’t a great way to live. It’s no wonder so many of them go nuts. This is most clearly shown in the scene when Anna is sitting next to Preecher’s bed. She wakes up to find the older woman gone. But all anyone wants to talk about is how she was just nominated for an Oscar. At that moment, she doesn’t give a damn. She cares about this kind woman, and where she’s gone. Just like any other person.

Finally, I appreciated that this season didn’t do what so many AHS seasons do. Which is to say that this episode didn’t feel like the last episode. It felt like the penultimate episode. It felt like there was still more story to tell, not just loose ends to be wrapped up. I appreciate that the writers have finally learned that lesson.

For this season, at least.

What didn’t work

The first thing that bothered me in this episode was Cora’s confession. I said something about this during our live-watch event on Threads. (Join us next week for the finale. Bring popcorn and wine.)

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I don’t believe Cora’s confession. I further don’t believe that she just dumped all of this incriminating info on Anna with no more prompting than a wide-eyed look. There was just no reason for it. So, Anna saw her coat? Lots of people have similar coats. This feels fake, and she brought no receipts.

Tavi Gevinson in American Horror Story Delicate.

I also found Siobhan’s behavior confusing. At times she seems genuinely concerned for Anna’s wellbeing. At other times, she is more than willing to let her suffer and risk her pregnancy.

While this has been going on all season, it was happening every few minutes in this one. Either Siobhan cares about the welfare of that fetus, or she doesn’t. But she needs to pick a lane.

All in all, I don’t know what to expect from next week’s season finale. Anna has her Oscar, but now she might lose her baby. She might also get sucked into some horrible cult and experience a bad death. We won’t know until next week.

See you then.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Fallout, The Target

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Episode two of Amazon Prime’s Fallout was equal parts funny and bloody. This almost always leads to a good time.

The story

We begin this episode with the birth of some puppies that look like they’ve had a rough start to life. Each one is weighed, with the ones who fall short being incinerated.

One pup who is just below the correct weight gets a bit of a thumb on their scale. The scientist weighing them, Wilzig, writes down the proper weight. He later takes the puppy home to raise instead of putting them into what looks like an unforgiving training program.

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Eventually, we see Wilzig put some blue glowing thing into his neck. When a soldier comes for him, Dog attacks the soldier, and the two escape.

Ella Purnell in Fallout.

We go from there to the wilderness, where Lucy is recovering from the last episode and enjoying a campfire at night. Wilzig and Dog come out of the shadows, saving Lucy from a bug monster. Wilzig tells Lucy she should go home. And if she’s not going to go home, she needs to evolve.

The next day Lucy finds her way to a town called Filly. As a Pennsylvanian, it hurts me to spell it that way. Lucy is entranced by this town, though clearly put off by the fact that no one is very nice here.

She eventually finds her way to a shop run by a delightful woman named Ma June. Ma doesn’t seem particularly interested in helping Lucy. Or, frankly, having Lucy in her shop.

Or in her town.

Eventually, Wilzig is tracked to this same shop, being tracked by The Ghoul. This is our final primary character. Lucy defends Wilzig, being aided at the last moment by Maximus.

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Maximus, by the way, has been having a terrible time. After finally becoming a squire he’s disappointed to find that his knight, Knight Titus, is a terrible person.

Fortunately, Maximus doesn’t have to put up with Titus for long. After Titus gets the bright idea to go hunting, he’s attacked by a mutated bear. Maximus freezes, unable to save him. Then, well, he decides not to save him.

It was Titus’s idea to go hunt the bear, after all.

What worked

Walton Goggins in Fallout.

The first thing I want to draw attention to is the shootout scene at Filly. This scene checked every box a fight scene should check. It was fun to watch, with great effects. But it also gave us insight into the characters. Lucy is a decent fighter and has a strong moral compass. The Ghoul is callus and desensitized to death. And Maximus continues to be, well, sort of bad at this whole fighting thing. But with enough moral fortitude that we have a hard time blaming him.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the dog. Who’s name, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, is just Dog. Which is fine. He doesn’t need to have a name to be a very good boy. He’s sweet, loyal, and fearless.

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Also, puppies. Puppies are always great.

Finally, I’d like to shine a spotlight on Lucy’s reaction to the world at large. She is both amazed and terrified by everything. And while she certainly doesn’t want to be rude, she also doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. The best example of this is when she stops to ask for directions with a bright smile and a gun.

Once again, I don’t have anything bad to say about this episode. It was funny, dark, and fun to watch. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Fallout, The End

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Launching with worldwide excitement, Fallout is based on the extremely popular game series of the same name. Fans of the series have waited with anticipation and trepidation to see if the Prime series would live up to the game.

Having now watched the first episode I can say that, so far, it’s successful.

The story

Our story begins with a children’s birthday party. A performer is there with his daughter, giving horse rides and taking pictures with the kids.

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As much as the adults try to focus on the party and the kids, it’s impossible to ignore the looming threat of war that’s on everyone’s mind.

Of course, it’s during this party that war comes, and the bombs drop.

We then cut to after the war and into one of the vaults established to protect humankind and the American Way. For future reference, this is Vault 33. We meet Lucy, our first main character, who’s petitioning to be married to a man from Vault 32 to ensure DNA diversity.

On the wedding night, though, Lucy and the rest of Vault 33 are met with a horrible surprise. The group they let in is not in fact from Vault 32, but is instead a team of raiders from the surface. The raiders kill a lot of the vault dwellers and kidnap Lucy’s father.

We are then introduced to our second main character, Maximus. He is in training to become a Knight in the Brotherhood of Steel. And, well, he’s not doing great.

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Things get worse when his best friend Dane becomes a squire before him. But when Dane is hurt, Maximus gets their spot.

Aaron Moten in Fallout.

We then go back to Lucy, who has decided to leave the vault and find her dad. Of course, the council of her vault doesn’t want her to go. So she is aided by her brother Norm and cousin Chet in a wild escape.

What worked

The first thing that deserves attention is the exceptional character work. Our three main characters are fleshed out and relatable right away. We feel sympathetic for The Ghoul before he’s even introduced as such. We love Lucy’s nativity and selflessness. And we love Maximus for his honesty and passion for his cause.

While these characters are their own people, they also exhibit the three responses we might expect to see in a post-apocalyptic world. We have the hopeful optimist who doesn’t understand how bad things are. We have the aspiring hero who wants to make the world better by force. And we have the self-serving individual who’s given up on the rest of humanity and is only focused on surviving.

Another thing I enjoyed about this episode was the balance of humor and gore. Because there was certainly enough blood and guts for even the most hardcore horror lover. We had a violent sabotage, a brawl with raiders, and even several nuclear bombs.

But there were a lot of funny moments as well. Usually from Lucy. Her overall goodwill and fearless gumption are absolutely hilarious, especially given the horrors she’s facing. It never ceases to amuse me.

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Ella Purnell in Fallout

Both of these aspects are done perfectly. The jokes land and the bloody scenes pull no punches. It was delightful.

All in all, this was an exciting start to a much-anticipated series. Here’s hoping they’re able to stick the landing.

For more tv shows based on video games, check out my review of Witcher. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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