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Edward D. Wood Jr.’s Subversive (?) Sci-Fi

Wood_plan2Raise a glass and remember Edward D. Wood Jr., who would be celebrating his 84th birthday today had he not died of heart failure shortly after being evicted from his squalid Hollywood apartment in 1978. The irony is that had he lived a few more years, he would have seen his 1959 science fiction film Plan 9 from Outer Space taken to heart by a new generation.

Kind of guy he was, Wood probably wouldn’t even have minded that hisfilm’s fans laugh all the way through it.

Plan 9, of course, has the dubious reputation of being “The Worst Film Ever Made.” If anything, I would call it one of the most entertaining bad movies ever made—I’d rather re-watch Plan 9 than a lot of other movies I can think of. (My personal nominee for worst movie of all time, if you’re interested, is The Flintstones.)

Plan 9’s biggest sin is that is was made with no money and next to no technical skill. OK, the acting isn’t very good either. And don’t get me started on the dialogue.

Still, you can make a case for Plan 9 being a subversive critique of what Eisenhower would soon refer to as the military-industrial complex.

As Danny Peary pointed out in his influential 1981 book Cult Movies, the alien Eros’s climactic critique of Earthlings is pretty accurate. Perhaps, Peary theorizes, Wood made Eros so arrogantly laughable to disguise his subversive intent?

Well, even Peary doesn’t seem too persuaded by his own theory, though you can pursue it a little further in this article at Bright Lights Film. And if you don’t have a copy of the entire film to watch in celebration of Ed Day, here’s a condensation of the best parts:

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