Why the "Worst Movie Ever Made" Is One of My Favorites
July 27, 2011
There are many contenders for the title of "worst film ever made." This is obviously a very subjective call. I personally would rank Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace as my worst film of all time; this annoyingly cute kid is the future Master of the Dark Side of the Force, Darth Vader? Don’t even get me started on Jar Jar Binks. Others might nominate such would-be-blockbuster bombs as Ishtar or Heaven's Gate.
If you search the web for "the worst movie ever made" however, you’ll find one title that comes up again and again: Ed Wood’s 1959 film Plan 9 from Outer Space. If you’re judging a film by such criteria as plot comprehensibility, quality of dialogue, acting, and special effects, then Plan 9 is definitely a very bad film. But, it is bad in such a wonderful way! Some bad films are just boring wastes of time. Not Plan 9! This is the Citizen Kane of "so-bad-that-they’re-actually-good" films. Ed Wood’s very amateur and somewhat demented directorial style and his determination to make films in spite of all obstacles elevate Plan 9 from an unwatchable mess into a piece of cinematic gold.
It is fitting that in this story of alien invaders who reanimate the dead as part of their "Plan 9" to wipe out the human race (Plans 1-8 having evidently failed), one of the main actors was actually dead himself. Bela Lugosi, having fallen far from his status as a horror-film superstar, died in 1956 while working with Wood on unrelated projects. Faced with making his masterpiece without his big name star, Wood simply inserted footage of Lugosi from the other projects into the film. For scenes that required an actual living actor, Wood substituted his wife’s chiropractor for Lugosi. The stand-in looked nothing like Lugosi, and was a good foot taller. How to overcome this? Have the stand-in hold a cape in front of his face, Dracula-style, in all his scenes! Genius!
I won’t spoil the film for you by telling you more details of why this is the best "bad" movie ever made. You need to see it for yourself. Luckily, you can find it here at MCPL. Also included in this edition is The Ed Wood Story, about the very strange life and career of the man who made "the worst movie of all time." Watch out, because soon you'll be wanting more. The next thing you know, you'll be hunting down other masterpieces of "so-bad-that-they’re-actually-good" cinema like Robot Monster, Ninja Terminator and Troll 2.
Still wondering what Plans 1-8 were?