The Bestest – Plan 9 Style

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Directed by Ed Wood Jr. Starring Bela Lugosi, Vampira, Gregory Walcott, Dudley Manlove, and John Breckinridge

A lot of people ask me what my favorite movie is (not actually true) and after a long, drawn out, awkward silence where I stare into space, desperately raking my brain searching for the movie that stands out above them all, only to come up with images of Gary Oldman or Anchorman, I answer I don’t know. It’s impossible for me to pin down one movie as “the best ever” so I’m going to do something nigh impossible for someone as important lazy as I am and create a list of the best. The best of the best. The bestest. Yeah, there we go. And what better way to kick off my “bestest” list than with what is widely considered the worst science fiction film to ever, Ed Wood Jr.’s Plan 9 from Outer Space!

“Wait, wait, wait, you’re putting what is arguably the worst B movie ever made on your ‘best of’ list?” Yes I am strange voice inside my head. Yes I am. But don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that Plan 9 isn’t bad, that thing is God awful. I could go on for hours about the hub-cap flying saucers on visible wires, scenes unexplainably switching between night and day, the countless plot holes, hammy acting, the posthumous performance of Bela Lugosi, and the oh so ridiculous dialogue. Hell, the movie’s opening lines are “we think most about the future because that is where we’re going to spend the rest of our lives.” Suck on that prose Shakespeare.

But none of that matters, Plan 9 is so damn awful that it transcends criticism, you can’t help but smile and laugh when you watch the movie, immediately forgiving its countless flaws and instead taking in its creativity and wackiness. What is so fantastic about this movie isn’t so much the final product (although it certainly is something special in its own right) but rather the passion and determination that it represents. Plan 9 was nothing more than a brainchild of a man who loved movies and who would stop at nothing to make them. Absolutely nothing.

Ed Wood every Saturday night

Ed Wood is often criticized for this highly exploitative filmography, which technically is an accurate accusation since the guy did go on to make X rated movies in his final years (Plan 69 from Outer Space was not of his creation sadly). However he did take pride in his work and held a serious passion for cinema. While his films were cheesy, over-acted, and poorly produced, he put in his full heart and soul to each one, oftentimes holding multiple positions for each film such as director, writer, producer and sometimes even acting in them (much like his idol Orson Welles.)

Not even the untimely death of his good friend and film star Bela Lugosi would stop the production of Plan 9 as the ever crafty Ed Wood incorporated clips of an unfinished film starring Lugosi and had his chiropractor serve as a body double for the remainder of the scenes. Ingenuity at its finest. Let’s not forget too that Ed Wood’s ardor and spirit were the inspiration for Tim Burton’s 1994 film Ed Wood a “biopic” of the filmmaker’s life. A critically acclaimed film revolving entirely around someone considered one of the worst filmmakers of all time. That’s gotta be some kinda irony right?

Plan 9 from Outer Space is like the macaroni picture frame your kid brings home from arts and crafts. Yeah it looks like crap, but you hang it up anyway because it is full of creativity, hard work and love. The film is great for a laugh as well as a source of inspiration (if Ed Wood can make a film I can too!) So here you go Ed, I’m puttin it up on my fridge.

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Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Movie Going Strong

Source: Variety

Before I explain anything about this movie, here is a description of the book from which it is based, given by the publisher Grand Central Publishing:

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother’s bedside. She’s been stricken with something the old-timers call “Milk Sickness.”

“My baby boy…” she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother’s fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, “henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose…” Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

Yes. 20th Century Fox has acquired the film rights for the adaptation of this Seth Graham-Smithe book. It will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Tim Burton and will hopefully be released in 2012, assuming the world doesn’t end.

I have never heard of this book but all I want to do right now is read it. This is fantastic people, absolutely fantastic.

Down The Rabbit Hole

Alice in Wonderland

Director: Tim Burton, Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Stephen Fry, and Alan Rickman. Released 2010

Tim Burton’s latest film is adapted from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. The original stories were a bizarre dream world full of contradictions, witty wordplay and smiling cats. Carroll’s work is littered with craziness and when translating this onto film, it’s only fitting that the director be someone just as strange as Carroll…and who’s a better choice than Tim Burton?

Now, I think it’s important to note here that I am a HUGE Lewis Carroll fan. I’ve got this big ass book (courtesy of Tyler, thanks hun) full of everything he’s ever written. Letters, poems, riddles the whole sha-bang. What attracts me to his work, in particular the Alice stories, is just how strange they are. They are devoid of any real plot (Alice just wanders from place to place until she wakes up) but what makes the stories so good is the weird conversations the characters have and how one event just sort of blurs with another, without any sort of transition.

The books force you to stop trying to make sense out of things, if you think you’ve got “the deeper meaning” figured out, Carroll throws something twice as crazy at you, just to screw with your head.

When I went to see the movie I was excited to see how Burton would handle the nonsense of the books and if he would tweak it to his signature dark style. I wasn’t impressed…

The movie’s main problem was that it tried creating a plot (fools) and a rather weak one at that. Basically, Alice returns to Wonderland (which is actually called Underland) to find the whole gang of fairytale creatures and talking animals waiting for her to explain how she has to slay the Jabberwock on the Frabjous day because the Compendium that predicts all events past, present and future says so. You follow?

Curioser and curioser...

The movie tried justifying everything that happened by holding the audience’s hand and walking them through the story. A small example would be giving names to the little cakes that Alice eats to grow bigger, or providing a whole back story on why the Mad Hatter is so…mad. It lost all of the strangeness and dream like flow wherein nothing is explained that made Carroll’s work a classic.

I've often seen a cat without a grin, but never a grin without a cat!

Despite this, the movie did have some high points, mostly the overall look of the film and the acting. Johnny Depp played a great Mad Hatter. The tea party was great at showing just how crazy all the characters are, and Depp’s random slipping in and out of a Scottish accent was one of the few small ways the movie included something that they don’t explain.

Stephen Fry did the voice of Cheshire Cat perfectly, delivering his lines with a small air of menace, as if he’s hiding something sinister behind that giant smile of his.

Helena Bonham Carter played the tyrannical cross between the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. While her performance was stunning her character’s relationship with the Knight was a little odd because it tried to create some sort of sympathy for her character as if she wasn’t evil after all but just misunderstood.

Mia Wasikowska stood out above the rest. Her portrayal of Alice was just as rebellious and curious as her Victorian counterpart and she played the role beautifully.

Tim Burton created a unique take on the Alice in Wonderland story, but it lacked a significant amount of the strange, nonsense, dream like feel that made Carroll’s stories so much fun to read. It’s a movie you’ll watch once and then never have the desire to watch it again which, unfortunately, I did.

Oh and bonus points for whoever can come up with the most original explanation for why a raven is like a writing desk.