A Remake Chronicles Extra by Adam-Troy Castro
Plan 9 From Outer Space is now billed as “The Worst Movie Ever Made…” and unfortunately for us all, is far from it.
It occupies a special case in my heart because I’m actually damn proud of something I did, in relation to it.
I saw it for the zillionth time at the Film Forum in New York, as part of an Ed Wood festival (which I was attending, on this particular day, because of a couple of Wood features I had NOT seen, being shown afterward).
I noticed a happy old guy being photographed next to the marquee, and then entering the theatre after the movie started, sitting directly in front of me and laughing as hard as anybody else.
When the lights came up between movies, I was told that this old dude was Conrad Brooks, a recurring player in Ed Wood’s movies, who would be autographing and talking to fans, afterward.
So I thought that this was deeply cool, and after the film went out to talk to Conrad Brooks for a while.
He did not strike me as particularly bright, but he DID strike me as a nice guy, with a sense of humor about himself, a deep affection for his old friend Ed, and a hearty grace about the odd fame the movies had achieved. He was looking forward to the new movie coming out in a few months, Tim Burton’s ED WOOD, where he was proud to say that he played a scene with Johnny Depp. (In the film, he’s a silent bartender who serves the disconsolate Wood a drink.)
Anyway, I liked him. I enjoyed talking to him.
Then some guy with a big broad grin in his face came walking out of the auditorium, and crossed the line. Grinning, he demanded of Brooks, “How can you even LIVE WITH YOURSELF after being in such an awful movie?”
Now, I don’t think this other audience member really meant to be abusive; it was simply a very poorly-phrased expression of enthusiasm, nothing more. But it was obnoxious, the worst possible way to say it. And I happened to see Conrad’s face fall. It was downright heartbreaking, the way his deep enjoyment of the day had just been assaulted.
The part I’m proud of is that I immediately said to the interloper, “Didn’t you just buy a ticket to see it? Weren’t you just sitting in there, enjoying it?”
“Yeah,” the idiot said, still 100% unaware of how hurtful he had been, “but only because it’s SO AWFUL.”
“It’s not a good movie,” I agreed, “but it’s better than many I have seen, and it shows enthusiasm in every frame, and THIS MAN and his friends had fun making it. Look around you. People LOVE it.”
The rude guy walked away, and Conrad Brooks startled me by seizing both my hands. “THANK YOU,” he said. “THANK YOU.”
We talked for a little longer, and then I said I’d let some other fans have a crack at him; he seized my hands again and thanked me again for coming.
It was a brief encounter, but I have always remembered it, and from that moment on have always been warmed by the knowledge that, at least once in my life, I said precisely the right thing.