Review delivered by Sean Keister
Bright blues and yellow are all I can see as my saucer makes another clunky landing in a desolate strip mall. I manually slide the creaky old door open, and breathe in that stale Earth parking lot odor. I look up and see a neon sign that says, “Gatebuster.” I’m relieved as it seems close enough to a video store chain that has long been defunct on my planet. I’m exactly where I wanted to be. As I enter I see no sign of intelligent life anywhere (but what else is new). I had heard a rumor that there was a tub of tapes with the words, “Grave Robber” etched into it; a clear jab at my peoples’ attempted conquest of this stupid, stupid planet.
Undeterred, I see no tub, only a handful of tapes left, one of which is mine if I agree to fill out a review card. Despite a few options, my eyes spot Plan 9 From Outer Space. My blood ran cold — even colder than usual — thinking about renting the film that dramatized our failed takeover of Earth. I must admit this incident was a sore spot for my people. It was painful, humiliating and traumatizing. However, I cannot resist filling out review cards. I begrudgingly use my controlling ray to levitate the video towards myself and head out the door. As I board my ship for the night’s viewing, I wonder if I have made a mistake.
Despite my reservations, I am starved for entertainment. I had never seen it. Not because it has been called “The worst movie ever made,” but for personal reasons. Most of my people have avoided it like the plague. I popped the cassette in the VCR and was prepared for the worst. The name “Edward D. Wood Jr.” appeared on screen. Perhaps the worst director here on earth, but to us a slanderer of my people. After a scene of what appears to be an “Earth-style” funeral, we meet our bland and dim-witted hero, Jeff Trent. Of course, here he is, still lightyears ahead of intelligence than the real Trent. Just like that Trent, he lives on the outskirts of the cemetery where we unveiled Plan 9 (our best plan). Wood does a solid job, explaining our plan to raise their dead in order for them to march on Washington to convince them of our existence. We tried to live with them in peace, but we had to stop them before they used a world-destroying device.
But I digress, I’m here to talk about filmmaking, not one one of the most disappointing moments of my life. Luckily, since I am not portrayed in the film, it makes it easier for me to watch. Right away, I noticed the poor design of the cemetery, featuring cardboard tombs and limited trees and I know I’ll enjoy at least a few laughs. Along with Trent, we meet the poor police detectives that are trying to discover what’s going on with the spooky circumstances in the cemetery. This group is led by the gigantic Tor Johnson, whose large presence makes up for his limited acting ability.
In Wood’s film every character sounds the same; from the police to the military and the citizens. Every sentence is exposition from beginning to end. The stilted dialogue is comforting, because it is so reminiscent of our own vernacular. Once you finally see us in the film, I cringed and then had to smile, as Wood had dressed us in ridiculous outfits that look like silk pajamas, seemingly in an attempt to make us seem ridiculous. In reality we don’t wear clothes at all, but I’m sure the censors had something to say on that matter. I have to be honest here when I say that my superiors were upset with us for being seen by the humans, but apparently we didn’t make much of an impact considering they learned nothing from our visit.
At this point, I’m much more invested. We have the humans down for the count. In the film, we see Johnson and the famous TV-personality Vampira terrorizing anyone entering the cemetary. Obviously, our true methods were much too terrifying for a weak, mainstream audience. In Wood’s film we are only hovering-over-them to death. Apparently effective enough to kill, it was a little milquetoast for my taste. Ironically, Wood takes a page out of our book in a way by resurrecting his deceased friend, actor Bela Lugosi. In a beautiful tribute, he uses the last footage filmed of Laguosi to portray him as one of the risen dead. A stand-in can be seen with his face obscured most of the time, but his presence is felt.
In what is a world-class display of Earth propaganda, they defeat my friends Eros and Tanna in an embarrassingly simple fashion. I will not lie, it was hard not to turn the tape off at this moment, but I persisted. In a crude re-enactment of our all powerful spaceship, the protagonists square-off against the actors playing my late colleagues. In the struggle, our equipment catches on fire and the humans escape, while the flaming ship takes off. Without a doubt, watching two of my closest friends get killed and go down in flames is difficult. Seeing the shoddy special effects softens the wound.
In spite of the many, many inaccuracies, I had a blast. Far from the worst movie of all time, if you ask me. Even seeing my people defeated by these idiotic earthlings brought a smile to my face. I was so happy to see our reign of terror that I didn’t mind the downer ending. For you see we will return. There is always another plan to execute.