The best “bad” movies always begin with the greatest intentions. Film history is littered with mediocrities you've never heard of from people who didn't care, but it takes a lot of heart to make a massive misfire.
“Troll 2” director Claudio Fragasso thought he was making a clever satire of vegetarianism. “The Room's” Tommy Wiseau truly believes that his anguished howl of “You're tearing me apart, Lisa!” is up there with the best of Brando. And the grandfather of them all, Edward D. Wood Jr., hoped “Plan 9 From Outer Space” would be seen as a plea for world peace.
It takes real passion combined with a complete lack of self-awareness (and ability?) to make such a great mistake, but it'll only cost you the price of a ticket to enjoy it on the big screen Saturday at the Alex Theatre, more thoroughly perhaps than anyone in Wood's day did.
Before becoming better known for berating Hollywood about moral values, it was critic Michael Medved — along with his brother Harry — who did filmdom a service by declaring “Plan 9” the worst movie ever made (thereby making it infamous), in their 1980 book “The Golden Turkey Awards.” Indeed, it is in many ways the most inept: characters describe flying saucers as being cigar-shaped, individual scenes go from day to night and back again within the span of a few minutes, and Bela Lugosi's partially shot role was posthumously recast with a chiropractor who looked nothing like the “Dracula” star and compensated by holding a cape over his face the whole time.
As for Wood’s antiwar message, it's undercut by the sheer scientific silliness of the movie’s imagined “solaranite,” a compound that can ignite rays of sunlight in order to destroy the sun itself.
But, as Tim Burton was neither the first nor the last to discover, “inept” and “bad” aren't quite the same thing. In his 1994 movie “Ed Wood,” which predominantly dealt with the making of “Plan 9,” he found inspiration in the creation of this art, however dubious. If you're looking for the same, you may or may not find it, but you're sure to have a good time nonetheless as you watch bald and bulging wrestler Tor Johnson zombie-walk his way past cardboard tombstones.
To sweeten the deal, one of the last remaining cast members, Gregory Walcott (a.k.a straight-arrow pilot “Jeff Trent”) will be at the 8 p.m. show. If any giant paper plates happen to attack, you can rest assured he'll save you.
L. THOMPSON is a Los Angeles movie critic who has seen his share of wonderful “bad” movies.
What: The Alex Film Society presents “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” (With special guest actor Greg Walcott at the 8 p.m. screening.)
When: Saturday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Where: Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd.
Tickets: $13.50 adults; $9.50 seniors/students and groups of 15 or more; AFS Members $8.
Information: Go to alexfilmsociety.org or Call (818) 754-8250.