"Can you prove it DIDN'T happen?"

"Can you prove it DIDN'T happen?"

If you’ll remember, for Thanksgiving I reviewed a venerable ‘turkey’- Attack of the 50ft. Woman (1958). Even the title alone suggests that the film was awefully cheesy, and it truly was. Still, it was not quite as bad as it could have been. However, it did spur my curiousity of the fabled ‘worst movie of all time’…

Plan 9 From Outer Space is one of many B-movies directed by Ed Wood. This strange crossdresser is still the object of many a film snob’s bittersweet fascination. After all, he was considered to be the worst film director ever. But it isn’t that simple. They aren’t just bad, they are delightfully bad. We say that about many of today’s B-movies, but this fellow made their production almost  as an artform. If Ed Wood was the master of terribly cheesy movies, this was his masterpiece. 

Plan 9 From Outer Space  is about a detachment of spacemen who are at odds with Earth’s many governments. They resent that man develops weapons of mass destruction so quickly, and that the world’s governments keep the existance of aliens from the public eye, so they take drastic actions. Apparently, many of their plans failed, but the latest scheme is re-awakening the dead. The spectacle is such that the American public must come to terms with the existance of aliens. This new undead army would also be the weapon with which the spacemen would crush mankind in an effort save the universe. Meanwhile, a series of policemen, an airplane pilot, and a military officer have witnessed the strange operations the spacemen carry out. They eventually band together, to stop the vile interplanetary menace.

Somehow the idea of extraterrestials resorting to re-animation and necromancy in order to get attention and conquer Earth doesn’t make sense. With such technology as the  ‘electro-gun’, it seems like the spacemen should be able to take over Earth with their own high tech weaponry. Zombies seem like a pretty poor way to conduct a planetary conquest. What makes even less sense is that they started making their slow zombie hoard in California, but they want their army to march on the capital. Why would they start on the wrong side of the continent? Why do they only manage to make three? Even the alien’s reasons for doing this aren’t all that great. Humans are too warlike and irresponsible, so spacemen react by using new and dangerous technology to destroy them?

The dialogue suffers from horrible writing even more than the plot does. The things the characters say are absolutely ludicrous. Often they are incredibly redundant, and just about all of the dialogue is incredibly cheesy. Even parodies of these movies aren’t as cheesy as the dialogue in Plan 9 From Outer Space. On a positive note, this makes the film very quotable.

Here are some examples of really stupid dialogue:

 “Inspector Clay is dead, murdered…and someone is responsible!”

“We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events like these will affect you in the future.”

“Why is it so important for you to make contact with the governments of Earth?”

-“Because all of you Earth men are idiots!”

“You just hold on, buster.”

While this may very well be some of the most ridiculous stuff I’ve ever heard in a movie, it makes for a really good laugh. Somehow, I can’t help but think that was what Wood was going for anyhow. I understand he was quite aware of how poor the quality of his horror flicks were.

Perhaps what some of the most distracting and poorly done aspects of this movie are the set design and production screw-ups. My favorites are the cockpit scenes and the graveyard scenes. The cockpit doesn’t even remotely look like an airplane. The joysticks are made out of cardboard, and I believe you can see a large boom mike shadow on the wall, dead center. The graveyard is pretty much the same. Cardboard crypt, cardboard gravestones. At one point when the actors are diving from swooping saucers, someone manages to knock over a gravestone. he doesn’t even notice he did it either.

This is film could be important because it shows filmmakers all of the things not to do. The low production values are so bad, that they are incredibly hilarious. However, there really isn’t anything in this film someone today couldn’t do with a home movie. While bits and pieces may be entertaining, viewers will likely grow tired of the movie within a short period of time. After a while, the goofs just get old. Furthermore, the nature of this film is almost exploitive. Bela Lugosi died long before this movie was ever finished. By that time, he had started working with Wood, but they had only a few minutes of footage of Lugosi. At one point, Wood’s wife got her chiropractor to act in Lugosi’s place when neccessary, even though he looked and sounded completely different from Lugosi. Is it really ethical to use someone’s image this way when they died only recently? In any case, this movie may be good for a laugh if you like Mystery Science Theater 3000. This is the one old bad movie they didn’t show. For anyone else, this is a fairly poor choice with so much else out there.

2.7 out of 10

50ftwoman

In celebration of Thanksgiving, I decided that I would leave my readers with a turkey. Gobble gobble!

 Attack of the 50 ft. Woman has maintained a reputation and a cult following for being a particularly ridiculous movie. Make no mistake, this movie truly is silly. The 1950’s were pretty much a golden age for science fiction movies, especially ones that featured some kind of monster. In fact, during this time the giant monster trend was in full swing. Godzilla came out in 1956, and before that were several other classic massive monster hits. Most movies from this era had a theme going on that reflected a real world fear held by society. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (also 1956) embodied the fear of communism coming to the United States. Godzilla was a representation of the terror of nuclear warfare. Attack of the 50 ft. Woman symbolizes…the threat of powerful, liberated women. Of course, you can only find such silly things in America.

Attack of the 50 ft. Woman is about a millionaire woman (Allison Hayes) married to a cheating scoundrel (William Hudson) who desperately wants to murder her so he can get at her money and run off with a slutty blonde. He sees an oppurtunity to get rid of her when she shows signs of insanity and drunkeness. She claims she encountered a giant and his space vessel. No one believes her, although the police play along out of a weird sense of respect. Best not to upset the highest paying taxpayer. After some time, contact with the alien has exposed her to some strange form of radiation, which causes her to grow. At this point, she decides she has had enough of being taken for a fool. The story is about as short and sweet as it sounds. The entire movie is barely over an hour in length.

While the premise is pretty hokey, the plot and its delivery are actually much better than you might think. During the 50’s, these monster movies weren’t exactly intended to be A list masterpieces. The acting and writing in this one are pretty good, comparatively speaking. Many of the characters are not purely good or evil. Some are, but it isn’t as overdone in many modern monster movies. The only man with a heart of gold is the butler, and he makes a pretty inept kight in shining armor.

That being said, there are plot holes so large an oversized Allison Hayes could fit through them. No bystanders ever see the giant alien, even when it moves in populated areas. The sheriff in town hates wasting taxpayer money, but he still lets his sidekick dink around when he should be on duty. Hayes wears the most desirable diamond in the world around her neck, even though anyone could snatch it off her neck. These might seem like trivial gripes, but when you put them altogether they are very noticable. Of course, its things like that that make this a B movie.

50’s monster movies might be notorious for poorly concieved monsters and plastic and rubber costumes, but the effects in this movie are pretty bad-even for the time. This was released just one year after the Amazing Collosal Man. The visual effects in that film were pretty good at the time, and created an acceptable image of a rampaging giant. The supposed giants in Attack of the 50 ft. Woman look more like large ghosts. They are almost transparent. While todays special effects surpass the technology of the 50’s by leaps and bounds, there really is no reason for me to be able to see through someone that is supposed to be a massive powerhouse.

Make no mistake, this movie is most definitely a turkey. It was always pretty much meant to be. However, it is a turkey that at least tries to be serious with at least some success. The characters have some personality to them.  While this movie is something to laugh at with a friend, it still at least has a semblance of quality. In the end, I suppose this as being a turkey…with some extra flavor to it.

5.0 out of 10