One of my friends is an actor, and as someone who has to face rejection in auditions on a daily basis, he has moments when he has to deal with thoughts about not being good enough and what success really means, and self esteem crushing things of that nature. His big trick for getting through those dark feelings of not being good enough, he always says, is to watch Ed Wood.
Ed Wood was an American writer/director who was most active in the 50’s and 60’s, and his film Plan 9 from Outer Space, a film about aliens coming to Earth and reanimating the dead in order to take over the planet, is credited as being the worst film ever made. But his sheer enthusiasm for films and film making, his ability to keep on creating and motivating other people to pay for his films, or agree to star in them, when he really had absolutely no talent, is remarkable. Many of your will be familiar with him and his interesting life because of the Tim Burton film Ed Wood, in which the famous man was played by Johnny Depp.
Because of this dubious worst film credit, there have been plenty of late night fan screenings over the years, and Plan 9 has taken on a bit of a cult status. And anything that has a cult status tends to bring out some weird ideas in people.
This short documentary, a little over an hour, is a humorous and loving look at the film, Plan 9, and pokes fun at the people who love it a little too much.
The great thing about this film is that it mixes real interviews with mock ones. It leaves you guessing who really believes what, and if it’s all for real. The creators of the documentary have taken themselves to Hollywood to interview various members of the film industry there who are fans, and talked to them about the impact of the film, and also about their theories on the meaning and symbolism in Plan 9 from Outer Space. Mixed into this are a few studio actors who also have strong scripted thoughts about the film and it’s meaning.
What comes out of this is some interesting people who theorise that Ed Wood was variously either contacted by actual aliens, was a feminist or anti-feminist, was privvy to government secrets, put his thoughts and feelings about his Inuit ancestors into his films, was a member of the illuminati and was killed by the government, and sometimes all of the above. These interviewees include such Hollywood alumis as the writers of the film Ed Wood, Joe Dante, Tom Holland and others. And I love that at times, you can tell if they’re teasing us just a bit or if they’re dead serious about Ed’s connections to aliens.
On the whole, the film is hilariously funny, and captures some of the feels of Ed Woods own films, with it’s dodgy performances, over enthusiasm and hysterical, unrealistic and polarised female characters. At times, some of the jokes are a little laboured and overemphasised in their repetition, but I really liked the moments where the interviewees came out with some random and odd thoughts about Ed Wood and Plan 9. You can’t tell if it’s all real or if they’re playing along, but it’s often when they say the weirdest things that you think to yourself, hey, this guy really thinks that… As far as introductions to the late and great director go, it’s a bit silly and perhaps not broad enough, but for those of you who are Ed Wood and Plan 9 fans, or any of you who love a good conspiracy theory, or who love laughing at people who love a good conspiracy theory, then this is a great deal of fun.