12/1/07

R050 Plan 9 from Outer Space (Three Riffer Version)

(1959, SciFi/Political-ish, color)

Riffers: Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

Does he also eat donuts off his gun?

Rating: ***

In a nutshell:

Civic-minded aliens raise the dead in an effort to save the universe.

Summary:

(Author’s Note: The following summary has been shamelessly recycled from the last time I reviewed this film.)

Get ready for a whole lot of Manlove.  Dudley Manlove, that is.A sad old man (Bela Lugosi) mourns the death of his wife (Vampira), unaware that she has risen from the dead to maul squat, rectangular gravediggers in the night. He throws himself into traffic, dies, and is buried; the mourners at his funeral discover the bodies of the aforementioned gravediggers. Police Inspector Clay (the massive Tor Johnson) wanders off by himself to investigate. The old man rises to join his wife; the undead couple mauls and subsequently raises the inspector as well.

Meanwhile, an airline pilot has seen a wobbly flying saucer, but has been ordered by high-ranking government officials not to speak of it to anyone. Of course he tells his wife anyway, and of course the flying saucer chooses just that moment to buzz their home. Further undead and alien shenanigans prompt the military brass to send a beleaguered colonel to investigate. He recruits the pilot, his wife, and an indeterminate number of goofy local policemen. They wander into the graveyard at night to investigate.

Cool rocketships and head bubbles not included.Meanwhile, the aliens fret and buzz the nation’s major cities more or less at random. Apparently the governments of the world have ignored their first eight messages, a source of some distress at their mammary-esque HQ (even though, up till now, they have not been transmitting in a language anyone can understand). Now they must execute plan nine: i.e., raise the dead until someone comes to ask them just what the hell they think they’re doing.

The colonel, the pilot, and the avuncular police chief soon arrive at parked saucer to ask just that. Their long-winded answer contains a tortured analogy that compares the sun to a can of gasoline. Apparently, Earth scientists are on the verge of discovering a weapon that could blow up the universe. The aliens’ warnings are so insufferably condescending that the debate devolves into fistfight. The Earthlings flee the ship before it bursts into flames, takes off, and explodes.

Thoughts:

I feel that my previous review of this film adequately expresses my feelings about Hollywood schlockmaster Ed Wood. For the purpose of this review, I’ll just summarize by saying that Mr. Wood’s films are both worse and more fun to watch than most of his contemporaries.

Vampira, honey, I'm cutting you off.  You look like you've had enough.The reason Mike has revisited this camp classic is, of course, to let his friends Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy in on the action. Though the lines have now been shared among the three riffers, most of Mike’s jokes from the first version remain intact, particularly the ones about Lugosi’s heroin addiction and the alien mothership’s anatomic shape. Now, the earlier Rifftrax’s origin as a Legend Films commentary meant that it was only sparsely funny amidst actual information about the film, while this version is a full-blown comedy, solely dedicated to making us laugh. To this end, at least half of the material is new. I was particularly pleased to see that they noticed the police chief’s rather relaxed attitude towards gun safety, with Mike finally asking him, “Didn’t you go to gun school?” Other funny comments include Kevin calling Plan 9 “the Caddyshack II of bad movies,” and Bill calling Inspector Clay’s ineffectual attempts to escape his grave, “Prairie Dogs of the Damned!” There’s a lot to be said for the camaraderie and interplay between the three riffers as well, making this version of Plan 9 is well worth seeing despite the recycled material.