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PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE

What does one say about a movie that has the reputation as being the worst film ever made? Well, after viewing PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE ($20) more times than I care to admit, I can honestly say that that this movie is far from the worst ever made. Sure, it is inept and inane, but it is fun to watch because it was so ineptly made by that auteur of ultra low budget cinematic ineptitude- Ed Wood. Now, as inept and inane as PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE may be, the movie does have its own distinct form of entertainment value that makes it fun to watch, especially with a group of friends and liberal doses of alcohol. In a sober state, most will find PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE to be the cinematic equivalent of a train wreck- something you know you shouldnít look at, but you find it impossible to avert your eyes.

PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is also notable in the annals of cinematic history as marking the last screen appearance of horror movie icon Bela Lugosi. Of course, Lugosi died three years before PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE was released and his performance is an amalgam of snippets of silent footage of the actor looking grieved at a funeral, exiting a house and stalking around in his Dracula cape. The rest of Lugosiís "performance" features a double (who looks nothing like Lugosi) hiding his face behind said Dracula cape. Featuring stilted dialogue, wooden performances and ninety eight cents worth of special effects, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE opens with a hilarious narration from less than notable psychic, The Amazing Criswell, who asks: My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of grave robbers from outer space? The plot of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE finds that self important aliens have arrived on Earth and that humans are too strong willed to control, so the alien resurrect the recently departed to work their plans and prevent mankind from destroying the Universe. The cast of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE also includes Tor Johnson, Vampira, Dudley Manlove, Joanna Lee, John Breckinridge, Lyle Talbot, Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Duke Moore, Tom Keene, Carl Anthony and Paul Marco.

Legend Films has made PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE available on DVD in a transfer that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. This DVD release of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE offers the film in its original black and white splendor, as well in a colorized version that places a surprising new sparkle on the movie. While I am a purist and did prefer watching PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE in glorious black and white, I found that my intention to only sample the colorized version was quickly dashed by the lurid colors that brought out the intensity of the filmís "train wreck" quality, which made it impossible for me to stop watching the film, yet again. The black and white transfer ranks as one of the better presentations of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE that Iíve seen, offering generally decent levels of sharpness and detail, plus good contrast and grayscale. Some portions of the movie appear somewhat soft, but that is attributable to the low budget origins of the movie and not a flaw in the transfer. The colorized version looks as good as this type of process can look and is significantly better than the early days of the process. The film elements used for this release display occasional blemishes, but are in otherwise fine shape. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is pretty good. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a very respectable sonic quality. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and easy to understand, even when you wish it wasnít. Fidelity is decidedly limited, but it does this track no particular harm. No other language tracks are offered, nor are any subtitles present.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some fun extras. Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 provides an amusing audio commentary in which pokes fun at the movie. "Deleted Scenes," Ed Wood Commercials, Ed Wood Home Movies, the recently unearthed and amusing Plans 1-8, a Legend Films Colorization Demo and colorized Trailers for other films processed by Legend Films close out the extras. Note: Legend Films is offering a limited number of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE DVDs that have been autographed by Mike Nelson.

PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is movie with a dubious reputation that long precedes it. The film certainly has its share of fans, as well as those who canít understand its appeal. If you are a fan or just curious to see how this cinematic train wreck looks in color, youíll want to check out the Legend Films release of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

 

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DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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