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23 February, 2008

The Worst Movie Ever Made?

I’ve often heard, as have many of you, that there is a movie out there so incredibly bad, so incompetently filmed, so horribly acted, that it deserves the appellation “Worst Movie Ever!” A film by a director whose ineptitude has become legendary. A film by the name of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

But conventional wisdom, as it so often is, just may be wrong in this case. Is PLAN 9 a bad movie? Yes, no doubt about it. Is it the worst movie ever made? Not hardly.

First, let me say that I do have some experience with bad movies. As a Horror Film-Fan with a moderately large collection of genre films, (@ 1,800 or so…) it’s not surprising that perhaps as many as 60% don’t really qualify as “good” movies. For every FRANKENSTEIN, EXORCIST, or SIXTH SENSE I own, there’s two or more movies the likes of MURDER IN THE ZOO, HOUSE ON SKULL MOUNTAIN, or THE ITEM. That’s natural; good movies are few and far between, and in a random sampling you’d be doing very well to come up with four out of ten winners.

But films such as PLAN 9 fall into a special category. These movies aren’t just bad; they approach the status of legend. They’re often described as “…so bad they’re good”, and PLAN 9 is the movie that is most often damned with such faint praise.

However, while Ed Wood’s putative masterpiece is without a doubt a truly ripe wedge of stinky cheese, compared to some of the films in my possession it comes out smelling like a rose. I would go so far as to state that PLAN 9 isn’t even Wood’s worst film, instead granting that title to the extraordinarily bad GLEN OR GLENDA.

Please allow me to suggest these three over-ripe pieces of Limburger for your consideration for the title of Worst Movie Ever. You may agree, you may disagree. But if you’ve had the misfortune to sit through any of these stinkfests, then you truly have my sympathy. And if, like me, you sat through all three?

Then you have my deepest respect and admiration.

1.) A*P*E—(1976): Perhaps inspired by Paramount’s remake of KING KONG, or at least by the size of it’s Box-Office take, a joint South Korean-American copy was rushed into production as rapidly as they could round up the largest collection of no-talent hacks ever to grace a film set; at least, one that didn’t have the words “DEBBIE DOES…” featured prominently in the title. Paul Leder took the Director’s credit; he should really give it back. If there was ever a movie worthy of having Alan Smithee’s name attached, this is it. (If that name sounds familiar, check it out on IMDb.com sometime…) Picture a film so horrifically atrocious that the cast (the only recognizable member of which is future “Growing Pains” mom Joanna Kerns…) actually looks embarrassed to be seen in it, and you have A*P*E. From the scene of the giant ape wrestling what appears to be the carcass of a dead shark, to one of the Ape throwing a terribly out-of-scale Huey helicopter into a cliff, then flipping it the ‘bird’, this film is one incredibly long, incredibly boring blooper reel. Though the Ape is repeatedly cited as being 36 feet tall, he routinely towers over four and five story buildings; effortlessly bats helicopters that should be larger than he out of the air; and chucks rocks with such force that they destroy 40-ton Main Battle Tanks. There simply is no redeeming quality to this celluloid crapfest.
2.) DEMON HUNTER ~aka~ LEGEND OF BLOOD MOUNTAIN—(1965): Chances are good that, if you weren’t born or raised in the deep South, then you’ve probably not been exposed to this rancid piece of regional filmmaking, and if that’s the case, then count yourself lucky. Starring George Ellis, using his horror-host identity of Bestoink (no, that’s not a typo…) Dooley, and featuring what is perhaps the lamest creature design this side of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, this film has long been the single worst movie in my collection. Ellis, who’s oddly-named character hosted The Big Movie Shocker on WAGA in Atlanta from the late ‘50’s to the late ‘60’s-early ‘70’s, was apparently the ONLY actor (and I use the term loosely…) to show up for the audition. We are treated to long scenes of Bestoink walking, Bestoink driving, Bestoink eating, Bestoink sitting up in bed… well, let’s just say we see a LOT of Bestoink. What we don’t see much of is: Plot; good acting; decent Special Effects; believable dialogue; sharp photography; and any reason whatsoever to care. It does appear that there is a complete reel of the film (approximately 11 minutes worth…) missing from the VHS prints that were available several years ago. That must have been the ‘good’ reel, because the others are garbage. I would usually recommend you see a bad film at least once, just to experience it. Not with this one—instead, just bang your head against the nearest wall for 65 minutes… the effect is the same, only more entertaining.


3.) FURANKENSHUTAIN TAI CHITEI KAIJÛ BARAGON ~aka~ FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD—(1965): I know people that love this movie; that swear that it’s a great film. I also know people who believe Elvis is currently touring the galaxy with little gray alien roadies. Neither group is correct. No, this is NOT a great film, and yes people, Elvis is really dead. I wish I could say that the premise of this movie is the most absurd thing about it, but that would be wishful thinking. In the waning days of World War II, the Nazis attempt to smuggle their greatest secret out of the country to their last remaining ally, Japan. What was this great secret? Germany’s Atomic research? Their latest jet engine? No. The disembodied, but still beating, heart of Frankenstein’s Monster. Seems the scientists in charge of it are planning to resurrect the Monster to do battle with Der Fuhrer’s enemies. And just where does this Teutonic superweapon wind up? You guessed it—Hiroshima, just before the big bang. I’ll spare you the various plot twists and turns; (there are many…) suffice it to say that this film couldn’t be more of an incomprehensible mess if it were directed by Uwe Boll. (Oh God, now I’ve given him the idea for a remake…) The truly sad part is that the sequel to this movie, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, is actually a very good film, far superior to this garbage. If only they could’ve made the sequel first!

Well, there you have them… your contenders for Worst Horror film ever made. Could I list more? You can bet the house AND the dog on that. But why bother? If those three cinematic floaters haven’t convinced you that PLAN 9 might not be that bad after all, then just keep watching the skies.

Oh, you might want to bring a lawn chair… I hear there might be a concert.







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