‘Worst film ever’ an even bigger disaster

adam.dompierre and adam.dompierre

While “Dragon Wars” is certainly a worthy addition to the bad movie canon, writer/director Hyung-rae Shim has a ways to go if he wants to measure up to Ed Wood, who made bad movies better than anyone before or since. That he didn’t realize they were bad movies makes them all the more fun to watch. Wood’s films include “Bride of the Monster,” “The Night the Banshee Cried” and “Night of the Ghouls,” and the plots are exactly what the respective titles suggest. But none of them compare to his magnum opus “Plan Nine from Outer Space.” “Plan Nine” is so startlingly bad that it’s a blast to watch. As 1996’s “Cult Flicks and Trash Pics” put it, “the film has become so famous for its own badness that it’s now beyond criticism.”

Wood considered himself a low-budget Orson Welles, and was an innovative, if at times incompetent, director. When his script called for an underwater battle with a giant octopus, Wood got by with what he had. Stealing a movie studio’s octopus under the cover of night (and tearing off a leg in the process), Wood brought it to a small river and had the actor wrestle with it in a shallow pool of water. Of course the octopus was bigger than the river, and most of its legs sat stationary on the bank. Combine that clip with stock footage of an octopus underwater and you’ve got an unintentionally hilarious Ed Wood action scene.

“Plan Nine” is amazing in its lack of oversight. The strings holding the flying saucers are impossible to miss, and actors accidently knock over tombstones and get stuck in doorways on more than one occasion. Apparently Ed Wood didn’t much care for second takes. The editing is just as lazy, and day turns to night and back again within individual scenes. Additionally, certain clips reappear several times in the movie, as Ed Wood either didn’t notice or didn’t care. The acting is abysmal, but it’s the dialogue that provides most of the laughs. “We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives,” the movie opens with, “And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.” Whether the film attempts to be clever (“Visits? That would indicate visitors”) or scary (“Perhaps, on your way home, someone will pass you in the dark, and you will never know it … for they will be from outer space”), it’s awfully hard to watch with a straight face.

In 1994 Tim Burton made “Ed Wood” a biopic that tells the behind the scenes story of “Plan Nine,” and stars Johnny Depp, Bill Murray and Martin Landau. It’s a legitimately good movie, as Wood’s life was truly stranger than fiction. Watching “Ed Wood” brings a whole new appreciation for “Plan Nine” and its earnest, if misguided, director. Ironically, the tribute was a critical success and won a pair of Oscars.