When remaking what is considered to be the worst film of all time there are two ways to go about it. You could approach it satirically and exploit its schlocky reputation or you could harness the story and retell it properly. Director John Johnson chose to do neither and he has produced a sloppy, convoluted and indecisive B-movie that lacks the charm that is required to sell it to geeky moviegoers.
Ed Wood’s classic cult film PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE has been lifted from the 1950s and plonked into a modern setting where foul language and ultra violence are casual acquaintances. When a meteor hits Earth, sending a radioactive shockwave across the landscape, the recently dead are reanimated and rise to kill all humans. The general plot follows the original storyline with various characters resembling the iconic ones. For example there’s a Tor Johnson look-alike, a Vampira look-alike and a Bela Lugosi look-alike. Surely such references suggest that we’re supposed to take PLAN 9 as a schlock satire and yet John Johnson has stated that it is definitely not a parody but, rather, a “good” version of the story. He can’t be serious, can he?
The film was clearly made on a micro budget with a set design and talent pool to rival the original and the script is as flaccid as anything Ed Wood wrote during his own career. The opening scene is quite good and promises a slick, modern retelling of a classic bad film but from the moment that the disjointed and amateurish credit sequence takes hold it becomes clear that the rest will be messy. Regardless of what Johnson wants us to believe, if this were a parody then it’s not a good one and it lacks charm, charisma and vitality. And if this is a sincere attempt at being a “good” version of the story then that’s a ludicrous notion (and the most amusing thing of all).
I am always hesitant to be overly critical of small, independent films and I try to take something positive from them. No one sets out to make a bad movie and working within the financial confines of independent cinema should grant most indie films some leniency and generosity. I can definitely point towards a few nicely choreographed action sequences, accompanied by a fitting soundtrack and there are a handful of well-conceived scenes with interesting angles and set-ups. PLAN 9 has its moments but they’re few and far between and with an inconsistent pitch and a lacklustre delivery it proves to be a disjointed and uninspiring exploit of a B-movie classic.