Plan 9 from Outer Space

From Academic Kids

Plan 9 from Outer Space is a 1957 Ed Wood science fiction horror movie. It was originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space, but it was renamed because that title was considered to be "sacrilegious" by its religious funders. It is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made. The movie earned Wood a post-humous Golden Turkey Award.

The plot involves aliens who come to Earth to stop humans whom they fear will develop the ultimate weapon—one that can explode the "particles" of sunlight and ultimately destroy the universe. The aliens try to conquer Earth by resurrecting corpses from a cemetery. At the end of the movie, the aliens are defeated, presumably leaving humanity free to develop the universe-destroying weapon.

Television psychic Criswell introduces and narrates the movie in a cliché style that neatly matches Wood's stilted dialogue. It is actually possible to see his eyes moving as they read the cue cards in the introduction and conclusion.

Actors screw up their lines—Wood did not have time for retakes—night turns to day and back in a single scene, and the movie's best-known guest-star is an actor who died early in the filming (Bela Lugosi). Lugosi appears in a few silent scenes in the beginning and middle of the movie, one of which is repeated during the film. Later in the film, Lugosi's character is portrayed by a taller, younger, blond-haired man: Kathy Wood's (Ed Wood's wife) chiropractor Dr. Tom Mason (who helped finance the film) holding a cape over his face.

Almost all of the movie takes place on small, unconvincing sets. The interior of the alien spaceship contains wooden tables, nondescript pieces of electronic equipment, a Jacob's ladder similar to the one used in the 1931 Frankenstein, and a warning flasher used by roadway crews. The cockpit of an airliner is represented by a small, featureless room with a curtained doorway.

The special effects consist of model UFOs purchased from a local hobby store, and stock footage. (Contrary to popular belief, these were actual toy flying saucers, and not hubcaps or pie dishes.)

The movie has a "campish" or cult film popularity among those who appreciate bad movies. Such appeal is heightened by quotable lines such as, "Inspector Clay is dead — murdered — and somebody's responsible!", and "Visits... that would indicate visitors!".

The movie is the subject of a documentary entitled Flying Saucers Over Hollywood: The Plan 9 Companion, which is notable for being 30 minutes longer than the movie itself. The documentary is included on the DVD release of the movie.

In 1994, Tim Burton directed a fictional biopic, Ed Wood, based on the making of this film, starring Johnny Depp in the title role and Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi.

Links in popular culture

Because of the film's strong reputation, and a Bell Labs Research Division penchant for choosing names 'outside the usual range', a successor to the Unix operating system was named Plan 9 in honor of this film.

Horror punk icons The Misfits have honored the film by naming one of their record labels "PLAN 9", and by releasing a song, "Vampira", named after the female lead, Vampira (Maila Nurmi).

Chiller Theatre in New Jersey hosts an annual horror convention featuring the two ghouls from Plan 9, Maila Nurmi and Tor Johnson.

Conrad Brooks and Gregory Walcott appeared both in Plan 9 from Outer Space and in Tim Burton's Ed Wood. Brooks met Ed Wood early in his acting career and has appeared in over one hundred films since his co-starring role in this film.

Those that preordered the video game Destroy All Humans!, available for the Xbox and Playstation 2 video game consoles, received a bonus DVD of Plan 9 from Outer Space when the game was released. The game itself also features several references to 'the movie.

Goofs & Mistakes

  • Shots filmed during the night and day are interchanged; for example, the scene in which the men dig holes with shovels. This happens many, many times.
  • During a scene in an airplane cockpit, a flash of light from a flying saucer reveals the shadow of the boom mike.
  • In numerous graveyard scenes, as characters brush against tombstones, the stones, which are obviously made of cardboard, wobble and, in at least one case, fall over.
  • Flying saucers wobble as they fly, and simply catch fire when they are destroyed. This is comparable to the apparant fact that the US army is trying to shoot them down with firecrackers.
  • Flying saucers cast shadows against space backdrops.
  • A door that presumably leads to the outside of the flying saucer opens in the opposite direction to the outer door of the saucer.
  • After entering the flying saucer, the police officers are never seen again, inside or outside of it.
  • Bela Lugosi's double hides his face with his cape to hide the fact that he is not Bela Lugosi.

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