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DVD Review: RiffTrax – Plan 9 From Outer Space

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Originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space but changed because of objections from the Baptist ministers who financed the picture, Plan 9 From Outer Space is hailed as the worst film of all time by many critics and audiences alike. Though not many films have the lack of developed talent and inconsistency in direction to be mentioned amongst its glorified lousiness, those films that have been are not nearly as bad. That being said, Plan 9 From Outer Space is unintentionally funny and far too amusing in its poor quality to be the worst film of all time. But it sure comes mighty close.

With its ear-twisting dialog, peculiar concept, and actors obviously reading from cue cards, it's a noteworthy addition to the RiffTrax collection. Plenty of quips surround the film itself — it's no wonder the folks from Mystery Science Theater 3000 decided to add Plan 9 From Outer Space to the list of films they use as fodder for their commentary. Though the jokes are obvious, ranging from fat jokes about Tor Johnson's neck rolls and visible strings hanging from saucers, the RiffTrax commentary is much more enjoyable than the film itself.

The special effects reach the lowest level of standards — rockets seem to all explode in exactly the same place in the sky (with the power and durability of exploding firecrackers), flying saucers are clearly on strings, and tombstones are obviously made out of foam. Its eye-catching flaws are uncountable and this works in favor of the film's RiffTrax commentary, but clearly not the film individually.

Director Edward D. Wood Jr. had a knack for creating films that, in his eyes, are perfected scene by scene. But in reality, as a director, he is easily the Shakespeare of bad films — poetic disaster among the heavenly body of cinema.

This RiffTrax commentary has jokes that are predictable and therefore aren't exactly gut-busters, but there is a degree of enjoyment to be found deep in Tor Johnson's neck rolls, Bela Lugosi's many doubles, and a detective who scratches himself with the barrel of his loaded gun. It's not the commentary's easily foreshadowed jokes that are its weak point, it's the repetitive nature of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew that keeps the jokes from flowing consistently.

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