Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Let’s finish off a month of the worst movies ever with a classic. I gotta say, after falling in love with B-movie parodies like The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, I had to keep reminding myself that Plan 9 from Outer Space was absolutely sincere. I mean, assuming the film Ed Wood is to be believed, but that’s a key ingredient in making a cult classic. Sincerity in ineptitude is what separates the men from the boys, and Birdemic: Shock and Terror from something like Taintlight.

After an old man (Mr. Bela Legosi most of the time, I’ll get to that) and his wife (Maila Nurmi, AKA Vampira) die, aliens arrive and resurrect them as zombies for their “Plan 9” with the intention of scaring the shit out of humanity. Cops and the military investigating leads to a third zombie, but after some bad dialogue and poor pacing we get the confrontation between the humans and aliens. See, the aliens are here because they’re worried that humans are developing weapons with no regard to their unintended consequences. They fear that the next weapons humans develop will utilize “Solaronite” and… um…

Hang on, I need to double check my notes. There’s no way that this is… yeah, no, that’s actually what the plot is. Well then.

The aliens are afraid we’ll discover Solaronite, which if detonated would explode the sun and the rest of the universe. See, a Solaronite explosion would also ignite “sun particles”–composed of “many atoms”–that are attached to the sun, which would cause the sun to explode, which would then explode everything the light of our sun touches, i.e. the entire universe. Sunlight particles. Amazing. Anyway the aliens explode and the humans are shaken. The end.

This movie is a treat in how cheesy it is. From the narrator’s weird cadence that doesn’t change no matter what he’s talking about to Bela Legosi sadly dying before the movie was finished, so every time you see him with his cape blocking his face that’s actually Tom Mason filling in. But there are some genuinely good things in this! Just a few, but still. Vampira–the precursor to Elvira–does bring a spooky, vampire aesthetic. Too bad she’s supposed to be a zombie, but whatever. Former wrestler Tor Johnson’s zombie, however, is amazing. He’s wearing contacts that white out his eyes and he’s giving his role 110%. Big thumbs up.

Then there’s the alien’s Excellency (credited as Ruler), a character that deserves his own paragraph. When you see him you immediately notice two things: he’s the best actor in this, and he’s absolutely fabulous! The character was played by John “Bunny” Breckinridge, a drag queen of some notoriety. He was openly gay, pursued gender reassignment for a while (Wikipedia used “he” pronouns so I’m deferring to them on the matter), lived with a harem of men, was the great-grandson of John C Breckinridge (James Buchanan’s Vice President), and was one of the only actors with any talent for acting (although you do get some of that from TV star Vampira and wrestler Tor Johnson). An absolute legend, as long as you ignore that he was charged with ten counts of “sex perversion” for taking two young boys to Las Vegas. The story as I found it suggested nothing sexual happened and that the charges were really because he was gay, but there’s enough murky details that I don’t want to put Bunny on too high a pedestal.


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