While not necessarily a vampire movie, Plan 9 From Outer Space, undeniably one of the worst films ever made (which in turn made it a cult classic), is the next title in the vampire section of John Landis’ Monsters in the Movies from DK Canada.
The film does feature a plan to resurrect the dead, making them undead, which is vampire-like, and also features two actors who came to popularity as vampires, Bela Lugosi (who died partway through initial production and was replaced by the director’s wife’s chiropractor (who was much taller)) and Vampira aka Maila Nurmi.
A loosely created story to use the footage of Lugosi sprang up around the framework of aliens coming to warn humanity against the creation of a doomsday weapon. They plan to scare Earth by resurrecting their dead, letting them live in fear of the beings and asking for help, which the aliens will deliver, if humanity ceases their troubling advances in weaponry. If they decline to do so, the aliens will let the dead walk the earth and wipe out mankind once and for all.
Two of the first bodies to be returned to undead life are the Ghoul Man (Lugois) and his late wife, Vampire Girl (Vampira/Nurmi). One of their first victims soon joins them, Inspector Clay (Tor Johnson). They stalk the California countryside (and a shoddy cemetery set) and pose melodramatically throughout.
With horrible special effects (flying saucers on a string, cardboard sets), terrible dialogue (cringe-inducing bile that makes you either wince or laugh) and glaring continuity errors (Lugosi), this one is best watched for laughs, eye-rolling, and the occasional shake of the head as you ponder, ‘what were they thinking?’
Of course, from the perspective of creative film making this one is worth a watch. It gets to the heart of the idea that anyone can pick up a camera and shoot something to tell their own story. Sure, this one is a weird story in every respect, but you have to love the fact that Wood’s drive made him create, and improvise, and lower the bar (a lot) to tell his story.
The sets are laughable (point in case the airplane cockpit – where to even start?! – the interior of the alien spaceship, the cemetery… but you can just imagine kids today, or of yesteryear, throwing together their own sci-fi horrors with the best of intentions, not realising how bad it is, just recognising their creation as accomplished.
Plan 9 should be required viewing for any aspiring film maker, and cinephile. It’s a cult classic for a reason.
And there are so many other titles worth checking out in John Landis’ Monsters in the Movies available now from DK Books!