Saturday, November 5, 2011


Popular opinion casts Ed Wood’s sci-fi non-epic PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) as the worst movie ever made, but it is actually far from it.  Sure, the film is inept and hokey, but it also has an endearing quality to it.  Plus, Vampira is hot.  I could whip out 50 movies in a second that I’ve seen that are worse than it.  And first on the tip of my tongue would be a film that tries to forge a close kinship with PLAN 9.  Behold BRAIN ROBBERS FROM OUTER SPACE (2004), a shot-on-video unofficial sequel to cinema’s most recognized turkey.  Not only does it attempt to be a 45-years-too-late follow-up, but the filmmakers managed to snag one of the co-stars of the original PLAN 9 to be star in this pseudo-sequel.  Yup, my good buddy Conrad Brooks is in this.  Even though my doctor told me to space out my Brooks viewings to once every six months, I’m breaking the rules and jumping on this cinematic grenade.

BRAIN ROBBERS opens with Detective Gustavo Perez in a hospital bed and telling a woman his wild story.  He rambles on about lizard-men Illuminati from the Dog Star Sirius before settling into our main story that takes place in Hillsborough, Florida.  A group of men out fishing spot a UFO and decide the best thing to do is contact Officer Jamey (Brooks) about it because he has some history with extraterrestrials.  This really shakes up Jamey’s world as he is living with his daughter and granddaughter and the highlight of his day is having kids leave flaming bags of dog crap on his porch.  Jamey and the men return to the area where they saw the UFO and they discover a black circle burnt into the ground and a small cylinder in the middle of it.  Naturally, they bag this strange piece of machinery in order to take it to some scientist friends for examination.

We then meet Evelyn (Lara Stewart) and her goth twin sister Lilith (Stewart again). Evelyn goes to visit a professor about her tarot card term paper, but all they get is the teacher telling Lilith about the mythical origin of her name.  Meanwhile, Jamey and Ted (Raymond Couto) take the strange cylinder to a neurosurgeon friend, who analyzes it in his Sheldrich Morphogenic Matrix Scanner. Hey, is that a STAR TREK joke?  Anyway, they find out that inside the container are brains.  Jamey then takes it down to the police department, but the cop he takes it to isn’t interested in it.  While at the station, Jamey sees Domino (Jose Ortega), a guy who was busted for smoking a joint.  With some smooth talking (that we never hear), Jamey gets him released.  Once outside, they part ways but not before they meet Officer Mary (Raye Ramsey), an old flame of Domino’s.  She asks if he is still seeing Lilith (alright, things are connecting) and he is.  Lilith and Evelyn return to Evelyn’s home where her drunken husband Russo Romero (Duran Anderson) gets so fed up that he goes to his job as a gravedigger in the cemetery.

Are you still with me?  Okay, we finally meet some aliens that are living in an abandoned house.  They are led by Morphia (Alex Michaels; yes, a dude in drag), who orders her top man-in-black Criswell (Joseph Miller) to get the cylinder back.  This proves troublesome as Criswell and an underling visit Ted, but it just breaks down into a shouting match with old man Criswell threatening to “blow his fuckin’ balls off.”  Okay, now Lilith has pissed Domino off because she won’t go to a concert with him and instead decides to hang out in the cemetery with two stoner friends (one of whom is named Butt Wipe).  This is the wrong move as they are abducted by the aliens and Lilith is transformed into a zombie via a hallucinogenic serpentine ritual (do what?).  Upset at her underlings’ failings, Morphia decides to take matters into her own hands.  She seduces/kills Ted and also turns him into a zombie.  Then she visits Jamey by pretending to be “an FBI agent from the X-Files.”  She finds the cylinder under the couch and splits.  Fade out, the end.  Oh damn, that is just the end of disc 1?  That’s right, this sumbitch runs 210 minutes.  I’m in so much trouble.

Disc 2 opens with a redneck family getting attacked and turned into zombies. Obviously Domino is worried his goth girlfriend hasn’t come home and he recruits her sister Evelyn to go looking for her.  They look where everyone looks for a missing person – by going to an office building that has a Virgin Mary reflection in its glass (true life story from Clearwater, Florida) and then hitting a carnival at Chaos Park where the tarot reader Evelyn’s professor mentioned is at. Naturally the psychic has bad news for them and then we get a random scene of Lobster Boy (real life Lobster Boy Grady Stiles) attacking some woman.  Damn it, my fingers hurt. Anyway, Det. Perez finally enters the picture as he is outside Domino’s place looking for drug connections (after all, he was busted smoking a joint).  Domino and the detective are both hypnotized by the men in black and Domino is taken back to a torture chamber in the house.  Also there is Butt Wipe, who Domino recognizes by his voice, and Morphia enters to torture them.  This results in my favorite exchange of the movie.

Butt Wipe: Why can’t I see?
Morphia: Because you don’t have any eyes.
Butt Wipe: Don’t have any eyes?
Morphia: No.
Butt Wipe (pauses): Why?

It is here that Morphia spells out the film's tenuous PLAN 9 connection.  Seems the invaders back in the 1950s were her grandparents and she wants to not only continue their mission, but also get even with Officer Jamey.  Oh yeah, Officer Jamey, remember him?  He teams up with Officer Mary and they battle a bunch of zombies in the park.  Morphia tries to seduce Domino, but Lilith snaps out of it because ain’t nobody touching her man, girlfriend.  Domino escapes and meets Evelyn in the woods, but she has become a zombie because she was killed by Ted.  Domino finally reunites with Officers Jamey and Mary and they look up into the sky to cheer the bombers (cue stock footage) attacking the UFO.  This lively trio then celebrates by going to a hotel and sipping drinks by the pool.  Our story ends with two fat kids dumping buckets of water on Conrad Brooks’ head.  Back in “real time,” Det. Perez has wrapped up his story and the audience sees the interviewer is Lilith. *cue “dah, dah, dahhhhh” music* He is then taken to the loony bin in the world’s longest dragging down the hallway sequence every put on film, er, video.

Normally I’m not a fan of reviews that just summarize the movie’s plot but, damn it, I’ve got to show something for the three and a half hours I spent watching this (over four hours if you include the “making of” stuff).  And, honestly, there isn’t much else going on in this labor of misguided love.  Director Garland Hewlett spent ten years (!) making this bomb and, no joke, the film’s opening logo for his Subatomic Productions reads, “No, we don’t make bombs!”  Are you serious? You’re just making this too easy for me. You make bombs bigger than Timothy McVeigh and friends.  Hewlett bypasses such industry standards as sound, set design, camera work and lighting.  Screw that, we spent all our money on Conrad Brooks. I guess I should always be wary of movies that tell me I need to adjust my brainwaves before viewing.  No doubt Hewlett would hide behind that claim that the overall badness was intentional, like hero Ed Wood, Jr. (to whom the film is dedicated), but I’m calling BS on that one.

And even if true, at least Wood had the common courtesy to get us in and out in 80 minutes. This miniseries of pain is three and a half hours long.  This thing is so bad that at times it became strangely hypnotic to me.  Take this scene where Criswell visits Ted (who I’m pretty sure is legit drunk in this clip):

That Criswell guy actually cracks me up and it is sad to note that the film opening with a dedication in his memory. Even funnier than a cursing grandpa are the film’s incredible continuity gaffes.  No joke, Domino goes from having long hair in the police station to short hair outside of it.  And there is a bit where Lara Stewart is obviously several months pregnant, which inexplicably leads to both characters she is playing being pregnant in a few scenes but no one mentions it. Again, I suspect director Hewlett probably says these errors are intentional in keeping with the terrible Ed Wood tradition, but I wouldn’t believe him as far as I could throw Conrad Brooks.  And speaking of Connie, I know I give him a hard time for his films, but he is actually the best actor on display here.  I’d also say Stewart gives a commendable performance since she had to essay two completely different roles.  She also supplies the film’s lone nudity. Well, if you don’t count the number of times Brooks is topless.

Good nudity :-)
Bad nudity :-(

I will admit there is one legit moment where I laughed out loud (intentionally) during this cavalcade of cinematic cheese. When the woman is being attacked by Lobster Boy, she runs to a house and pleads for help.  A woman inside leaps up off the couch and yells out the window, “Go away! Don’t bother us, we’re watching The Simpsons.”  D’oh!  While I never want to disparage indie filmmakers, this is some seriously rough stuff here.  I think it may have even cracked the top ten worst films I’ve ever seen.  But can I really hold it against Hewlett when one of the extras on the DVD is his 9 minute discourse on the positive effects of psychedelics helping one free themselves from the confines of our media masters?  I suspected there were some brain dead folks behind the camera and that proves it.  There were some brain robbers loose in Florida alright and I think they stole a bit from me after watching this.

1 Reactions:

  1. The overall badness was, indeed, intentional. One of our bragging points early on was that Garland submitted some footage to a contest for a local grant and came in 50th out of 50.

    - Lara Stewart

    (I can't seem to make this show up as anything other than the name of my blog. Weird.)


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