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January 27, 2010

Cinematic Hell: Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

by Hal Astell

Director: Edward D Wood Jr

Stars: Tor Johnson, Vampira, Tom Keene and Gregory Walcott

Buy Plan 9 From Outer Space on DVD

I couldn't resist watching Plan 9 from Outer Space after Manos: The Hands of Fate. It's the film most usually regarded as the worst ever made, but there's really no comparison. Harold P Warren didn't know how to make a movie in the slightest, but Ed Wood did. Sure, he chose to do so in his own very outsider way but he was capable nonetheless, hardly the no talent hack movie history tries to make him out to be. Outsider art is an acquired taste that surely isn't for everyone, and Wood can only be fairly contextualised as an outsider, especially given that his films, which like Tarantino's movies are patchwork quilts of everything he had seen and thought was awesomely cool, are undeniably his. You simply can't mistake an Ed Wood movie for anything else, just as you can't mistake a Russ Meyer movie for anything else.

January 13, 2010

Cinematic Hell: The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

by Hal Astell

Director: Coleman Francis

Stars: Douglas Mellor, Barbara Francis, Bing Stafford, Larry Aten, Linda Bielema and Tor Johnson

Buy The Beast of Yucca Flats on

How bad can a movie be when it begins with a surreptitious yet entirely gratuitious nipple shot? Well, the answer is really, really bad. This is the worst film I've ever seen, currently ranked 22nd on the IMDb Bottom 100, though bizarrely that still makes it the highest rated of the three features that Coleman Francis wrote and directed. It's a sheer joy to see it again, to remind myself of how truly awful it was while simultaneously torturing members of my family in the process. I simply couldn't think of a better choice to begin a set of reviews of the worst of the worst films to ever escape from Cinematic Hell and disgrace us with their presence. It's also hardly a coincidence that my hosts at Cinema Head Cheese have shot an unauthorised sequel almost half a century later, Return to Yucca Flats: Desert Man Beast.