Nothing is accidentally funny any longer. Ironic winking has completely replaced organically occurring cheesiness. There was an inevitable watershed moment when being bad became intentional that doomed authentic accidental humor. I suppose this is OK, a natural progression extrapolated from the aging culture of movies and media.
This is the same time-line that gave us Sharknado and Wet Hot American Summer (which I really like, incidentally, but be warned if you watch it you will never get that Jefferson Starship song out of your head).
But there was a time before time when some movies were just just bad despite the efforts of the auteur, the cast, and the crew. One film wears the jeweled crown of pure crap, so famously bad that its audacious breathtaking awfulness has spawned devoted followers and inspired whole other films examining how and why something so abysmal ever got committed to celluloid instead of the director being committed to an institution. The film holding that distinction is, and probably will be for all time, Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Confession: I have never sat through a complete showing of Plan 9. I’ve seen all of it in bits and pieces but it’s a really dull film once you get past the shock of it looking like something a six year old M.Night Shyamalan would have shot out his bedroom window on Super 8.
“…one of the most disturbing movies you are likely to see is Room 237.”
In his mockumentary Unspeakable Horrors: The Plan 9 Conspiracy writer/director Jose Prendes juxtaposes a movie so bad that it’s good with the frighteningly sincere world of batshit crazy conspiracy theorists.
From the realm of conspiracy theory one of the most disturbing movies you are likely to see is Room 237. It’s a documentary interviewing people who expound on the most outlandish notions of hidden meanings and subtext in The Shining. The Shining is definitely scary and one my favorite Stanley Kubrick movies but it’s just a movie whereas these folks are being fully serious. The deep blue crazy shines in their eyes. Unspeakable Horrors is a spot on parody of Room 237.
“…I found myself chuckling during Unspeakable Horrors.”
Prendes rounded up some industry luminaries for not-so-serious interviews that delve into Ed Woods’ reverse, perverse masterpiece. He even includes brief comments from our own Chris Gore. We explore such topics as why Tor Johnson couldn’t pronounce the word “medical” and how Vampirella’s waist is so freakishly small (it really is startling). There’s a whole running gag about Eskimos that mimics reporter Bill Blakemore’s complete obsession in Room 237 with finding native American symbolism in The Shining.
I found myself chuckling during Unspeakable Horrors. While it is entertaining, the joke wears thin quickly. There just wasn’t 90 minutes worth of funny in this idea. It would have benefited greatly from an edit down to an hour or so.
Unspeakable Horrors: The Plan 9 Conspiracy (2016) Written and directed by: Jose Prendes. Starring: Arielle Brachfeld, Graham Denman, Buz Wallick, Chris Gore (yep, that Chris Gore)
7 out of 10