Saturday, March 12, 2016

Pay a visit to......Plan 9

DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all.  The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least.  Remember - ART IS ART!

There is a reason I have to defend some films...and some film makers.  Two of those reasons are Harry and Michael Medved; two gentlemen that, to best of my research, never wrote nor produced a single film.  However, neophytes though they were, they took it upon themselves to list in book form some of the worst films ever produced in a small tome published in 1980 entitled The Golden Turkey Awards..  Certainly some of it was "tongue in cheek" , but, in their esteemed opinions, one visionary was selected to be the worst director ever (and of the worst film ever no less) - one Mr. Edward D. Wood, Jr.

I was unaware of the book in my youth, but, I don't doubt I would have enjoyed it at the time.  However, I'm certain my enjoyment would have had a great deal more to do with compiling a list of must see films than sitting on the sidelines with a self-satisfied grin while mocking the work of others.

I have in the past engaged in beer fueled rants about the brothers Medved and their snarky book only to have the person stuck listening to me say - "But, didn't they bring the work of Ed Wood to a whole new generation of people?"

Meh....perhaps. But, I'd also say it's just as likely the best selling Don Post Tor mask was doing the same thing.  And, in fact, having never seen nor read Medved book - I was certainly well aware of Ed Wood thanks to a number of other publications and the fact that, in the golden age of television...the 1980s, there were once independent television stations that had to fill time; and sometimes they filled that time with Ed Wood films.

And I loved them.

I loved them dearly.

However, in 1992, Rudolph Grey did what the Medveds could not be bothered to do and wrote a well research book about the auteur himself in the oral biography titled Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.  It was only two years later when Tim Burton's amazing film Ed Wood brought to life the Eddie the world should know.  Wisely the Burton film ended with Wood's release of Plan 9 from Outer Space...his masterpiece.  Had the film continued, there wouldn't have been a dry eye in the house when the credits rolled.

Happily, since the 90s, the mystique and brilliance of Ed Wood has become more uniformly recognized. And, thanks to a new crop of film makers and artists - a new film - a tribute to the works of Wood - has been released.

Plan 9

Written and directed by John Johnson, Plan 9 is both an amazing film and a fitting and loving tribute to Ed Wood himself.  Taking inspiration from Wood's original film, Plan 9 tells the story of an alien invasion from the perspective of the residents of the small town of Nilbog. Thanks to advances in digital technology, Johnson and his amazing cast, can now represent Wood's story in a that, I feel certain would have made Eddie pretty damn proud.

Here is where I would discuss the plot of the film in more depth - but, honestly, check the film out for yourself.  What I want to do now is give accolades to one of the best and most sincere casts ever assembled.  I would watch this cast work together on a hundred films...and then wait for a hundred more.

First and foremost, I have to mention the performance of Ed Wood regular Conrad Brooks as Jamie.  Sure, like Wood, Brooks is often written off and under appreciated.  But, this film clearly indicates Brooks, has, and I believe always had, the chops to be a spot on actor.  Equally as impressive is the work of Mister Lobo as Criswell (at least when he's on set).  If you are familiar with my blog, you already know I've written about my respect for Mister Lobo.  An unequalled visionary, writer and actor, his performance in this film is a career making turn for an artist who should have been a household name 15 years ago (IMHO).  I'll have to gush about Mister Lobo just a bit more.  See, I love genre films, B-Movies, forgotten classics and grindhouse I safely write a blog about these film in my spare time when I'm not an IT geek.

Not so Mister Lobo.  This brilliant man talks the talk...and then walks the walk.  A film lovers film lover with an encyclopedic knowledge of genre films (and all things in general), he, along with is bride and a handful of others carry the torch of people like Ed Wood for future generations.  I've not had a chance to meet him yet, but, once I've met him and Fred Olen Ray I will be have all wishes fulfilled and will happily die in my sleep (or in a drunken bar fight while channeling Charles Bukowski..don't know yet).

But the rest of the cast is incredible as well - I'm certain all of them will go on to do a great many well know films.  The cast includes Brian Krause, Matthew Ewald, Monique Dupree...and John Johnson Kelton (I love that).

I watched it on Wal-Mart's streaming service Vudu but have a copy coming for more regular monthly viewings (as this has quickly become one of my all time favorite films).  Please, check it out - and if you see Mister Lobo tell  him "Hi" for me!