24 Frames per Second
Sci-fi Summer Film Series: "Plan 9 from Outer Space"
Plan 9 from Outer Space was filmed in 1956 by Ed Wood, the King of B-movies, but was not released until 1959. The film begins with the funeral of a beloved wife, played by Maila "Vampira" Nurmi. The old man, played by Bela Lugosi, weeps openly at the loss of her and his purpose in life. The plot then takes off on a roller coaster ride of odd twists and turns, with characters who deliver their lines as if they are robots.
The film heats up when aliens enter the narrative and announce their plan to take over the Earth to save us from nuclear destruction, using only one ship, two ray guns, and a handful of zombies. The beloved wife emerges from the gloom of the graveyard as a zombie brought back to life by the aliens. It is the best moment of the film, as the marvelous Vampira walks toward the camera with outstretched arms and a trance-like stare. She fills the screen with her presence, and thankfully, there is no silly dialogue to trigger laughter, rather than screams, from the viewer.
This B-movie is a classic Ed Wood film with awkward dialogue and bizarre shots. Roger Ebert describes the directing style of Mr. Woods: "He was so in love with every frame of every scene of every film he shot that he was blind to hilarious blunders, stumbling ineptitude, and acting so bad that it achieved a kind of grandeur." This love affair with filming is the reason why people continue to watch Ed Wood films. They are so bad, but you just can't stop watching the stilted movements of the actors as they deliver ridiculous dialogue. Richard Corliss explains the draw of these "bad" films [...] you notice that these movies are doubly subversive: they not only subvert themselves, they rebel against the timid rules of traditional filmmaking." Plan 9 from Outer Space can be viewed as a funny film that draws out laughter rather than fear, or possibly a commentary on the "nuclear madness" that gripped the nation during the cold war. Learn more about Ed Wood:
- Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. by Rudolph Grey
- Ed Wood by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
- Death of a Transvestite by Ed Wood
- Hollywood Rat Race by Ed Wood
From the archives: Plan nine from outer space : screenplay, 1956
Plan 9 from Outer Space is the first film in a 4-part Sci-Fi Film Series in June to celebrate Sci-Fi Summer Reading at Mid-Manhattan Library. This series focuses on Sci-Fi B-movies from the 1950s. A screening of Plan 9 from Outer Space will take place on Wednesday, June 8 at 7 p.m. on the first floor of Mid-Manhattan Library. No registration is required. All are welcome! For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sci-fi Summer Reading at Mid-Manhattan Library is having an official kick-off on Friday, June 10. To see all the events for Sci-Fi Summer, visit http://bit.ly/scifisummer.