This week Jason chats with Katharine Coldiron, who's just published the book Plan 9 from Outer Space from Electric Dreamhouse Press. The book takes seriously it's task of discssing "without condescension" this film that the Medved Brothers famously called the Worst movie of All Time– a label Coldiron right away in the conversation points out isn't even close to true. Bad movies aren't this memorable. Instead, she studies Plan 9 from Outer Space as a means of discussing what can go perfectly with a movie, and how perfectly this film gets nearly every "rule" about film wrong.
Coldiron also sets out a fascinating list of the kinds of bad films:
- Cynical Trash – movies that are competent but serve no purpose but to cash in on an idea,
- Missing link– movies where all parts that should make a good film are in place save one key failure point,
- Movies that should work but don't– her example is Waterworld
- Poor photocopies– movies that are basically retreads of other movies, like the "mockbuster" Atlantic Rim
- Auteur incompetence (Plan 9 directed by Ed Wood is the prime example)
The book and the conversation range widely, including an explanation of the idea of "shoe leather" in a script, where the writer wastes time with details that add nothing but running time.
Katharine Coldiron's work as a book critic has appeared in the Washington Post, the Guardian, NPR, and elsewhere; her work as a film critic has appeared in Bitch, Bright Wall/Dark Room, and Video Librarian. She earned an MA in creative writing from California State University, Northridge, and a BA in film studies and philosophy from Mount Holyoke College. Find her at kcoldiron.com.
Listen on YouTube:
Check out the whole Rifftrax-commentary version of Plan 9:
Jason Henderson is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the editor of the "Castle of Horror Anthology" series. The newest Volume is Thinly Veiled: the '70s, a collection of horror stories based on 70s TV and movies. He is the author of The Serpent's Nest: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books. His next book is 18 Miles from Town: a Midlife Crisis Thriller.