A new film festival debuts in Ogden this weekend, bringing with it the cult classic 1994 sci-fi film “Plan 10 From Outer Space.”
The inaugural 9 Rails Film Festival will be held Sunday, Nov. 24, at The Monarch, 455 25th St., in Ogden
The festival is the brainchild of two Ogden business owners — Christopher T. Ostler of Madison Place AirBnB, and Rebecca Sato of Cuppa Cafe.
“One day we were sitting there, talking about a lot of different fun ideas to engage the community,” Ostler said. “And one of the things that came up is we’d both seen movies by Trent Harris, an independent filmmaker out of Salt Lake. He does some more obscure work, so it was surprising we’d both seen some of his films.”
Initially, Ostler and Sato thought about holding a movie night.
“But then we thought, ‘Why don’t we do a film festival?’” he said. “And we just ran with it.”
The festival begins at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, with a reception — including a cash bar — catered by local restaurant WB’s. The evening will include door prizes, a silent auction, a costume contest, and art by Steve D. Stones available for purchase.
Ostler said among items at the festival will be “secret door prizes from Trent Harris that he won’t even tell me about.”
Some of the film’s original props will be on display, and Ostler said there may be “a pretty cool item that originated from the film” that will be auctioned off in a silent auction.
“So it’ll be worth coming to check that out,” he said. “There will be some surprises for people.”
Ostler said they’ll have a digitally remastered version of “Plan 10” at the festival. The Utah film has no connection to another cult film with a similar name, the 1959 sci-fi flick, “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” created by the legendary Ed Wood.
“I think the title may have been a marketing tool,” Ostler said. “Trent said, ‘Well, ‘Plan 9’ got some terrible, terrible ratings, so we felt if we could make ‘Plan 10’ then the bar was pretty low.’”
The film screens at 7 p.m. It will be followed by a panel discussion featuring the director and some of the cast members.
“Plan 10 From Outer Space” was written and directed by Harris, considered among the country’s premier cult film directors. Harris’ other offerings include “Rubin & Ed,” “Beaver Trilogy,” “Welcome to the Rubber Room,” “Luna Mesa” and “Delightful Water Universe.”
According to the “Plan 10 From Outer Space” plot description on Harris’ website: “Lucinda Hall discovers a century old book penned by a mad Mormon prophet. She deciphers this odd artifact and is sucked into a world where spacemen, polygamists, and angels run amuck. Is she nuts or has she uncovered a diabolical plot to change the world led by Nehor ..., a peeved alien from the planet Kolob?”
The low-budget film stars Karen Black, Stefene Russell and Curtis James.
The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 1994. It received the jury prize at the Raindance Film Festival in London, England, that same year.
Sundance called the surreal satire of LDS theology “Nancy Drew on acid,” and Cinefantastique magazine labeled it “Rocky Horror meets the Mormons.”
“I call it early-Mormon fan fiction,” Ostler said of the 25-year-old movie. “And it just gets better every year. It’s like a good wine, it only gets better with age.”
Ostler admits the film — which pokes fun at LDS culture — isn’t for everyone. He doesn’t think it’s “anti-Mormon,” but he does concede that it lends itself to “creative thinking and inquisitiveness.” And humor.
“It’s one of those situations where, as you go through life, you can take yourself super-serious, or you can chuckle at yourself a bit,” Ostler said. “The film came out way before “Book of Mormon” the musical, and it’s far less offensive. It’s just a cute film that tells a cute story.”
Besides, Ostler points out, the film festival is being held on a Sunday evening.
“If people were extremely fervent about not going to a movie on Sunday, then they probably would find it anti-Mormon,” he said.
The venue seats 450 people, and Ostler said ticket sales have been brisk. The event is a benefit, with all proceeds being evenly split between the local O1Arts organization and the filmmaker, according to Ostler.
Although the inaugural 9 Rails Film Festival is only showing one film, Ostler said that may change that in future years.
“The long-term goal is we’ll continue to highlight a single film,” he said. “But we do see a future where we want to get involved with local filmmakers.”
Ostler said that might include involving film students from Weber State University or local high schools, and perhaps teaming up with other local festivals, like the Ogden Film Festival.
“If there’s a common goal we can achieve together to involve local filmmakers, let’s do it,” he said.