Last week I went to the theatre to see the new Ridley Scott flick Prometheus. On Friday I saw the archive.org version of Plan 9 from Outer Space. Yesterday I watched the 2011 movie Cowboys & Aliens on DVD.
What do these films have in common? It's simple: All of them are of utter trash value! However, when I look at how much I enjoyed watching each of these movies, the fifty+ years old Plan 9 beats the hell out of the other two! Three reasons why, after the break...
- First and foremost, Plan 9 does not pretend to be a good movie. It is so unashamed of its badness that it turns around on itself and unexpectedly becomes funny. Prometheus and Aliens on the other hand take themselves so serious that it hurts to watch them blunder and fail. Having a look at production costs nicely illustrates the problem: According to Wikipedia, Plan 9 cost a mere $60k to make (which amounts to less than $500k today), whereas the other two try to cover up the tracks of their horrible screenplays with the incredible sums of $130m (Prometheus) and $163m (Cowboys). Incidentally, the screenplays of the two modern films were both co-written by Damon Lindelof, the new shooting star in my personal avoid-movies-written-by-this-author category.
- Another reason why Plan 9 soars where the other two movies suck is that the aliens in Plan 9 actually - and somewhat surprisingly - make sense! The methods they employ to pursue their goal may be inane, but their motivation is logically explained towards the end of the film: <SPOILER ALERT>They try to prevent humanity from inadvertently constructing a doomsday device which would wipe out not only earth, but the aliens as well.</SPOILER ALERT> Who would have thought that?! Prometheus and Aliens, on the other hand, present their aliens as incomprehensibly evil or beast-like monsters that simply must be slaughtered. Yawn.
- The final point in favor of Plan 9 is the nostalgia bonus of seeing a black & white movie from the 50ies. No chance for the other two films here :-)
In the end, of course, it all comes down to personal taste: Do you like genuinely old movies with cheap UFOs-on-a-wire special effects, or do you prefer old-wine-in-new-bottles movies with expensive green slime CGI? Request to the studios: Please let's have both, I suggest a remake project "Star Trek: Grave Robbers from Outer Space".