Friday, March 6, 2009


Some of you may claim to have seen the worst movie ever made. You'd probably say it is Ed Wood's Plan Nine From Outer Space. I would argue, however, that any movie that has survived for over 50 years and only gets more popular with each passing year couldn't possibly be bad. It's just unique. 

I have a soft place in my heart for Plan Nine From Outer Space. I know all the lines by heart. I've parodied it on Freakazoid. If someone told me that we were all going to watch Plan Nine tonight, I'd be giddy with excitement. Yes, the acting is lousy. But it's so lousy, it's brilliant. The script is incomprehensible. But never have such a combinations of words given me more joy. For me, it all boils down to this: Ed Wood was at least trying. In my book, that counts for something.

Alas, I cannot say the same thing for what truly IS the worst movie ever made. A movie I was in. A movie that you will never see. Be thankful. Be grateful. Beware.

The movie is I.F.O. Just typing those three letters gives me something akin to irritable bowel syndrome. Actually, there's nothing akin about it. It is irritable bowel syndrome.

I was 24. I was performing improv at the LA Connection. After the show a German man came up and introduced himself to me. He was making a movie. He also introduced himself to Marc Drotman and Tony Lovett. They were in the group with me and good friends.

He asked us to come to an audition the next day. We did. The audition consisted of us doing...improv. There were no lines to read. We just sorta did silly improv stuff. That should have been our first warning that things weren't quite right. I've since learned that he had us improv because there was no script yet. The movie was going to shoot in two weeks and there was no script. Actually there was a script. But it was in German. A meticulous translation was underway.

We were hired on the spot. Would we like to be in a movie? WHU? YEAAAAAAH!

I remember Marc, Tony and me all rushed to phones to call our parents. We had made it. Stardom. The big time.

Two weeks later we arrived in Tehachapi, California for a week's worth of shooting. Never has such horribleness been put to film.

Our director was from Germany. He was an actor who worked often with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a German director of considerable reputation. I can't say that any of that rubbed off on him. Still he was pleasant enough. I think, anyway. We could never really understand him. Not only did he have a very thick accent, but he spoke very softly. Truth be told, I still have no idea what he said. This can be a problem when you're making a movie. 

He'd give you direction and before you had time to say, "What?" he'd yell ACTION! Which is why, if you ever see the movie (which I urge you not to do) every scene starts with a puzzled expression on all the actors faces. After about three seconds of puzzlement, we all slowly start doing our lines.

The movie we were about to film was about a small, talking, toy-sized helicopter that was invented by two "brilliant" scientists (Me and Tony Lovett.) The fact that Tony and I were in our early 20's didn't seem to bother anyone. My character also had a teenage daughter, which would have meant I had become a father at the age of 8. But, I was "brilliant" so maybe. I dunno.

Anyway, the CIA steals this obnoxious, talking, toy helicopter from us or something (I've tried to erase it from memory) and it...I dunno. Something happens. But in the end, the helicopter meets a young teenage boy and they become friends. The end. 

The script was....well. Who ever translated it from German did so literally. For instance, a line like, "What are you talking about? That's impossible!", was given to us as, "You are talking about something I am unaware of! That which you refer to is not workable in the realm of possibility."

There was also a large chunk of the script that was simply TBD. (To Be Determined.) We found out that TBD would involve Tony and myself improv-ing our lines. Making it up as we went along.

Another part of the script called for a scene in our high-tech laboratory. We had filmed all week and still not been in this high-tech laboratory. When we asked where the set was we were told it was being built.

Finally, we were driven to the set. It was a barn. A real barn. They had swept out the hay. Inside they had placed an old console television on one end. They had found the TV on the side of the road. That was our high-tech lab. It's really hard to pretend to fiddle with high-tech dials when they're on a console TV that's been placed on its side. Still, we did our best. I remember fiddling with the TV while saying lines like, "The newton flux field is modulating nicely. But I'm getting an arc on the looten tube!"

The helicopter itself was a remote-control gas-powered horror. It had been purchased from a hobby store and modified with all sorts of high-tech gizmos. Unfortunately, that made it too heavy and it could only hover about an inch from the ground. That didn't mean it couldn't hover from side to side and almost cut your legs off.

One scene called for Marc to scream as the helicopter got close. Marc screamed. But his screams were real. The helicopter was about to disembowel him.

About three months after we made the movie we were invited to a screening. Being new to making movies I had thought, "Well, I'm sure they added stuff and it'll be okay." It wasn't. Now, generally I'm pretty optimistic about things and try to see the positive. I have a dog with three legs. But to me, he has four. Understand? However, the movie that unspooled in front of me that afternoon was a dog with NO legs. It just sort of flopped around. It was an ugly dog, too. An ugly, no-legged, flopping dog with anal leakage.

I remember rushing back to work at KABC thankful that I had a job.

How bad was it? Well, about five years later my best man got a hold of a copy and thought it would be funny to show at my bachelor party. His thinking was, "This will be hysterical!" Everyone had been drinking heavily and smoking cigars and there was much mirth and merriment. When the movie started everyone started laughing. "Oh! Oh! This is going to be funny!" 

Know that it's really hard to take 30 drunk, happy, cigar smoking men and immediately turn them into quiet, somber men with thoughts of suicide. And that was only after watching the 1st minute.

Anyway, I need you to trust me on this. You have not, and luckily, will not ever seen the worst movie ever made. Make fun of Plan Nine if you must. But I have seen the true beast. Prithee go not where I hath.


  1. Actually, I think Keeper has seen it. I tried to find it once but failed. Someone must be systematically tracking down copies of it and destroying them... Paul, I'm looking in your direction.

    Maybe you'll get lucky and RiffTrax will spoof it, and make it somehow funny. They're magical like that.

    Also, I've noticed dog anal leakage showing up more and more in your posts. I think you have a problem. Please see your vet immediately.

    Did you catch Angus Moot's match/game last night? He has a "stone-cold" passion for the sport!

  2. No mention of curling? I am appalled and ashamed. I shall think twice of supporting you if you are to pen such trifling stories as this. A fine color commentator, indeed! You, sir, sicken me.

  3. I remember seeing a tiny clip or two of this on a Freakazoid fansite way back when, and thinking it looked charming. Perhaps if I can get a copy and divide it into scratchy 20-second-long clips it will be digestable.

  4. Hans. Hans.

    Forgive me. I just thought, perhaps, you know, people were growing weary of my passion for curling. And well, you know, I would just...just take a day and write something else. You know. But, Hans. Dear Hans. Gentle Hans. Know that I am as committed to curling as any man can be. I am, at this very moment, learning what the brooms and mop thingies are for. I am! I do like curling. I do!

    Please, Hans. Dear Hans. Monday I shall write such a post on curling that it will make you so happy. Please Hans.

    Hans. Please. Don't leave. Please.


  5. Rob,

    Please. For my sake. Add something about curling to your post. Please. This man, this Hans, seems to be a genuine curling person and I need him to see that we're all about curling here. Rob, please. Please write something about curling. How about, "Hey, Paul. Yes, that sounds like one bad movie. By the way, did you see the match/game last night?" Just like what Takineko did.



  6. I thought you were going to say "The Country Bears"

    No offense to you or Peter Hastings, of course. had you guys written it, I'm sure it would've been awesome.

  7. Paul, have the commentating senseis taught you nothing?

    When someone asks you, what's the worst movie ever made, the correct response is: any sports movie that didn't have anything to do with curling.

    In alphabetical order: Breaking Away, Hoosiers, The Mighty Ducks, Rocky, Rudy... the list goes on and on. How remiss Hollywood has been, indeed.

  8. I just searched Ebay for I.F.O. [apparently that's where you got your photo of it]. Why is it 50 dollars!? Is it just the rarity of it? I was hoping to run across several of them for a penny or something. Darn...

  9. [Insert something about Curling here].

  10. Push-brooms and ice skating rinks were absolutely made for each other, but sadly neither realized this until the advent of the heavy round thing.

    Like the sharing of communal love with a beloved pet indirectly brings a family closer to one another, the heavy round thing has totally sealed the deal for housewares and cold floors.

  11. No, Valerie, I have not seen I.F.O. Like Mr Firefly, I have seen only a brief clip of Paul up against a wall doing some Gilbert & Sullivan parody lines ("I am the very model of a modern (something) physicist") which seemed a bit clever (must have been him ad libbing instead of the real script stuff), and some other lines after his brain had been zapped or something -- "Yes, yes, this we have proven". It was silly and definitely B-movie stuff, more like what you'd see in a fan movie... but I've seen better fan movies.

    And the clip had Swedish subtitles.

    I hear that the curling scene wasn't bad, but unfortunately it didn't make the final cut.

    As for The Country Bears, I recall when it was being made that Peter told me Paul had begun to assist in writing or editing or somesuch. Paul could confirm or deny this. It's a pleasant enough Disney family movie -- an Oscar winner compared to I.F.O. "That thar's a SIGN." It had its moments. I have nothing against it.

  12. Yes, but does IFO hate you for even watching it? I get that feeling from "Red Zone Cuba" or "Hobgoblins". IFO sounds like it's right up there with "Monster A-Go Go" or "Doomsday Machine"... or maybe even "Manos: The Hands Of Fate".

    Maybe you could convince Cinematic Titanic to put it out of its misery. They seem to favor low budget 70s sci-fi films lately.

    Oh, and I hear that the Norwegian curling team this year is really going to kill this year at the World Championships in International Falls, MN. Their sweepers are very skilled.