Thanks to Perry Block for reminding me of the Plan 9 From Outer Space explanation I had planned on posting for the longest time. This, as you may know, is one of the key films in my catalog of references – I have, over the years, got more mileage out of defending this than any other film. Why? Well, it is an important part of the crossover between the classic film era, the “middle period” (which led to all those classic sixties dramas as epitomized by Roger Corman) and the modern era which was ushered into existence with the release of Jaws. It’s not so important for its’ contents (or supposed lack of quality) but because of the script. Read the script, and take a moment or two to consider how much of the techniques have been borrowed from (and absorbed into) the language of cinema.
In case you need reminding, here is the film.
and here is the script.
Now, I know that no less an authority than Stephen King has claimed this to be a waste of your time, but it isn’t. Neither is Independence Day, Electric Boogaloo or Love, Actually. From lesser films, we can always learn. What do we learn from Plan 9 From Outer Space? Depends on what you want to learn, but we can take a few lessons from the script first and foremost – the use of non-fiction elements to sell fictional portions of a script has been used a number of times in a variety of ways, but the Criswell Predicts opening is, perhaps, the purest exploration of sliding people from a television format to a feature film. It is done in an incredibly cheesy way, but the very same thing can be seen any time you identify real newsreaders in a film.
There are other things which you can walk away from the film knowing. Award yourself a cookie every time you see something in Plan 9 which has been done in a blockbuster in recent years. There is, oft times, greatness in the crap we too readily step on.