Plan 9 from Outer Space


1h 19m 1959
Plan 9 from Outer Space

Brief Synopsis

Aliens bring the dead to life to conquer the Earth.

Photos & Videos

Plan 9 from Outer Space - Movie Poster
Plan 9 from Outer Space - Lobby Cards
Plan 9 from Outer Space - Scene Photos

Film Details

Also Known As
Grave Robbers from Outer Space
Genre
Horror
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jul 1959
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Reynolds Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Distributors Corp. of America
Country
United States
Location
Hollywood, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,039ft

Synopsis

One morning, high above the San Fernando Valley, commercial airline pilot Jeff Trent and his co-pilot Danny are aghast to see a flying saucer just outside their plane. While they report the sighting to the airport tower, the saucer secretly lands in a nearby cemetery, where two gravediggers are finishing the burial of an elderly man's young wife. Having heard a spooky noise the gravediggers are attempting to leave, when the corpse of the dead woman, Vampire Girl, rises from her grave and kills them. Soon after, Vampire Girl's widower dies of loneliness and is buried in a crypt. After the service, two mourners find the gravediggers' bodies and alert the police. Meanwhile, the elderly man is resurrected as well and becomes Ghoul Man, wandering the cemetery in a long, black cloak. While police inspector Clay looks for clues in the misty cemetery that night, Jeff, who lives nearby, explains to his wife Paula that after he spotted the flying saucer, the army debriefed Danny and him and forced them to promise to keep the sighting a secret. As Jeff expresses his frustration about keeping silent, a flying saucer whizzes by, the force of it pushing Jeff and Paula to the ground. Back at the cemetery, the saucer lands and Vampire Girl and Ghoul Man attack and kill Clay, whose bullets are useless against them. Lt. Johnny Harper and two patrolmen follow the sound of the gunfire and upon finding Clay's mutilated body, notice a foul smell in the air. Soon after, when flying saucer sightings in Hollywood and Washington, D.C. make headline news, the army sends Col. Edwards and his convoy on a secret mission to fire at the saucers, which are unharmed by the attack. The pilots of one saucer, Eros and Tanna, return to space station seven and report the incident to their Ruler, who is furious that Earth's government officials still refuse to acknowledge their existence. Fearing that the humans' nuclear weapons will result in the destruction of the whole universe, the Ruler has set into motion Plan Nine: Eros and Tanna have used their electrode guns to resurrect the dead and create a zombie army to control the living humans. Later, Jeff reluctantly leaves his wife alone to go to work, but, fearing for her safety, has the control tower call and check on her. Paula, who has gone to bed, assures the tower that she is fine, but as she hangs up, Ghoul Man breaks into her bedroom and sends her running from the house. Hysterical, Paula runs through the cemetery, where Vampire Girl and the now resurrected Clay lumber slowly after her. Paula faints from fright on a road, where a passing motorist saves her. When Harper arrives at the cemetery to investigate, he hears the spaceship lift off and discovers Clay's grave has been unearthed and his casket is empty. Meanwhile at the Pentagon, Gen. Roberts orders Edwards to investigate the San Fernando Valley cemetery incident and make contact with the aliens. Explaining that the army developed a computer system to decode their language, Roberts admits that the military has been in contact with the aliens for years. He then plays a recording of their last transmission in which the aliens announce that their technology is superior to that on Earth and accuse the earthlings of being stupid for assuming that they were only living beings in the universe. The aliens conclude that the earthlings' use of nuclear weapons has forced them to consider destroying the Earth's inhabitants in order to save the planet. Back at space station seven, Eros and Tanna report to the Ruler, who explains that as soon as they have enough walking dead to form a large troop, they will march on the powerful houses of government and demand that the earthlings accept the aliens' superiority. Back at the Trent house, while Edwards is interviewing Jeff and Paula, Ghoul Man suddenly attacks patrolman Kelton, who is knocked unconscious. When he then attempts to attack the others, a ray from the saucer renders Ghoul Man into a skeleton, a tactic the aliens hope will scare the humans into acknowledging their awesome power. After Kelton revives, Edwards rushes with Jeff and Harper to the cemetery and orders Kelton to remain at the car with Paula as they investigate the glowing light emanating from the spaceship. Soon after, Clay attacks Kelton, leaving him unconscious, and then carries Paula, who has fainted, toward the spaceship. Seeing the ship, Edwards, Jeff and Harper enter its opened hatch with guns drawn. Once the men are inside, Eros closes the hatch and points to a monitor showing Clay carrying Paula to the ship. Eros claims that his people have been contacting Earth for years, but humans have refused to acknowledge their existence. The earthlings' development of the Solaronite Bomb, which could destroy the sun, has put the rest of the universe, which is also dependent on the sun's existence, in jeopardy. An impassioned Tanna reiterates that it is not "mad" to kill earthlings if they are going to destroy every other planet through their ruthlessly irresponsible behavior. When Harper orders Eros and Tanna to go to the police station with him, Eros laughs and threatens to have Clay to kill Paula. Meanwhile, Kelton and another policeman find Clay and knock him down with a pipe, revive Paula and head for the ship. Back at the ship, a fistfight between Eros, Tanna and the earthlings ensues. While Edwards manages to open the ship's hatch, some equipment that was damaged in the fight causes a fire to start onboard. Edwards, Harper and Jeff flee just as the burning ship takes off into the night sky and explodes. Instantaneously, Clay's body turns to bones, the ship having lost control of the ghouls and their mission on earth.

Photo Collections

Plan 9 from Outer Space - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Plan 9 from Outer Space - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959), directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions. The cards from this low-budget film were printed in Duotone.
Plan 9 from Outer Space - Scene Photos
Here are several scene stills from Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).

Film Details

Also Known As
Grave Robbers from Outer Space
Genre
Horror
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jul 1959
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Reynolds Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Distributors Corp. of America
Country
United States
Location
Hollywood, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,039ft

Articles

The Gist (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - THE GIST


Beneficiary of more than its fair share of critical brickbats, Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) is not only not the worst film ever made, it's not even the worst Ed Wood film ever made. Written and shot around existing footage of aging Dracula star Bela Lugosi in the sad days leading up to his 1956 death and cobbled together with enthusiasm, determination and whatever Hollywood leavings could be scavenged, Plan 9 has become the whipping boy of midnight movies for its technical gaffes, flat acting, continuity errors and tautological dialogue ("Future events such as these will affect you in the future"). Guilty as charged-- but the film deserves honorable mention as an unsung milestone in American independent filmmaking.

Highly personal, brazenly cross-pollinated from a genre standpoint and openly critical of the Western atomic stockpile, the self-financed Plan 9 also utilizes the non-professional actors and guerilla production tactics that distinguished the Nouvelle Vague in France a few years later. However risible Wood's script may be, his dialogue is endlessly quotable and images of Tor Johnson and Vampira doing the zombie shuffle are forever burned into the retina of horror fandom's collective eye. While few would argue its artistic superiority, Plan 9 is viewed, discussed and quoted more times in any given year than John Cassavetes' Shadows (1959), Hal Hartley's Trust (1990) or Darren Aronofsky's Pi (1998), none of which have, for all their indie credibility, inspired so much as a single refrigerator magnet. Could respected A-list filmmakers such as Nora Ephron, Neil LaBute or even Tim Burton, if denied the studio perks on which they rely to facilitate the creative process, produce a work as enduring as Plan 9 from Outer Space, which is still being discussed and enjoyed fifty years after it was made?

Director: Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Producer: J. Edward Reynolds
Screenplay: Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Cinematography: William C. Thompson
Editing: Edward D. Wood, Jr.
Cast: Bela Lugosi (Ghoul Man), Gregory Walcott (Jeff Trent), Mona McKinnon (Paula Trent), Tor Johnson (Inspector Clay), Paul Marco (Patrolman Kelton), Duke Moore (Lt. John Harper).
BW-79m.

by Richard Harland Smith
The Gist (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - The Gist

The Gist (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - THE GIST

Beneficiary of more than its fair share of critical brickbats, Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) is not only not the worst film ever made, it's not even the worst Ed Wood film ever made. Written and shot around existing footage of aging Dracula star Bela Lugosi in the sad days leading up to his 1956 death and cobbled together with enthusiasm, determination and whatever Hollywood leavings could be scavenged, Plan 9 has become the whipping boy of midnight movies for its technical gaffes, flat acting, continuity errors and tautological dialogue ("Future events such as these will affect you in the future"). Guilty as charged-- but the film deserves honorable mention as an unsung milestone in American independent filmmaking. Highly personal, brazenly cross-pollinated from a genre standpoint and openly critical of the Western atomic stockpile, the self-financed Plan 9 also utilizes the non-professional actors and guerilla production tactics that distinguished the Nouvelle Vague in France a few years later. However risible Wood's script may be, his dialogue is endlessly quotable and images of Tor Johnson and Vampira doing the zombie shuffle are forever burned into the retina of horror fandom's collective eye. While few would argue its artistic superiority, Plan 9 is viewed, discussed and quoted more times in any given year than John Cassavetes' Shadows (1959), Hal Hartley's Trust (1990) or Darren Aronofsky's Pi (1998), none of which have, for all their indie credibility, inspired so much as a single refrigerator magnet. Could respected A-list filmmakers such as Nora Ephron, Neil LaBute or even Tim Burton, if denied the studio perks on which they rely to facilitate the creative process, produce a work as enduring as Plan 9 from Outer Space, which is still being discussed and enjoyed fifty years after it was made? Director: Edward D. Wood, Jr. Producer: J. Edward Reynolds Screenplay: Edward D. Wood, Jr. Cinematography: William C. Thompson Editing: Edward D. Wood, Jr. Cast: Bela Lugosi (Ghoul Man), Gregory Walcott (Jeff Trent), Mona McKinnon (Paula Trent), Tor Johnson (Inspector Clay), Paul Marco (Patrolman Kelton), Duke Moore (Lt. John Harper). BW-79m. by Richard Harland Smith

Insider Info (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - BEHIND THE SCENES


As a condition of the contract between Ed Wood and a Baptist organization covering production costs, many of the Plan 9 from Outer Space cast and crew had to be baptized in a swimming pool in Beverly Hills.

Producers J. Edward Reynolds and Hugh Thomas, Jr. appear in the film as gravediggers.

A Hollywood chiropodist and hypnotist named Thomas R. Mason was hired to double for Bela Lugosi.

The footage featuring Bela Lugosi was shot for an aborted project called The Vampire's Tomb. The house belonging to Lugosi's "Old Man" was owned by Swedish wrestler-turned-actor Tor Johnson, who had performed with Lugosi in Wood's Bride of the Monster (1955) and Reginald Le Borg's The Black Sleep (1956).

During principal photography, Plan 9 from Outer Space was called Grave Robbers from Outer Space, which was considered blasphemous by the film's Baptist financiers. The original title is still used in Criswell's opening monologue.

Maila Nurmi was paid $200 for one day's work on Plan 9 from Outer Space and rode to and from the shoot on the Santa Monica Boulevard bus in full Vampira makeup and costume.

After an argument with Ed Wood, veteran makeup man Harry Thomas insisted that his name not be used in the film's credits. Thomas' assistant, Tom Bartholemew, received sole credit.

Location footage of an actual graveyard was shot in a San Fernando Valley cemetery slated for relocation.

Sources:
Cult Movies by Danny Peary
Cult Movies by Karl & Philip French
AFI
www.scifilm.org
imagesjournal.com/issue09
wald.heim.at/redwood/510196/soundtracks
Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr. by Rudolph Grey
www.brightlightsfilm.com
The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film
Incredibly Strange Films (Re/Search)
Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks: Conversations with 24 Actors, Writers, Producers and Directors from the Golden Age by Tom Weaver
The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi by Arthur Lennig
The Horror People by John Brosnan
The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror by David J. Skal
It Came From Weaver Five by Tom Weaver
Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes by Tom Weaver
Video Watchdog

Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Insider Info (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - BEHIND THE SCENES

As a condition of the contract between Ed Wood and a Baptist organization covering production costs, many of the Plan 9 from Outer Space cast and crew had to be baptized in a swimming pool in Beverly Hills. Producers J. Edward Reynolds and Hugh Thomas, Jr. appear in the film as gravediggers. A Hollywood chiropodist and hypnotist named Thomas R. Mason was hired to double for Bela Lugosi. The footage featuring Bela Lugosi was shot for an aborted project called The Vampire's Tomb. The house belonging to Lugosi's "Old Man" was owned by Swedish wrestler-turned-actor Tor Johnson, who had performed with Lugosi in Wood's Bride of the Monster (1955) and Reginald Le Borg's The Black Sleep (1956). During principal photography, Plan 9 from Outer Space was called Grave Robbers from Outer Space, which was considered blasphemous by the film's Baptist financiers. The original title is still used in Criswell's opening monologue. Maila Nurmi was paid $200 for one day's work on Plan 9 from Outer Space and rode to and from the shoot on the Santa Monica Boulevard bus in full Vampira makeup and costume. After an argument with Ed Wood, veteran makeup man Harry Thomas insisted that his name not be used in the film's credits. Thomas' assistant, Tom Bartholemew, received sole credit. Location footage of an actual graveyard was shot in a San Fernando Valley cemetery slated for relocation. Sources: Cult Movies by Danny Peary Cult Movies by Karl & Philip French AFI www.scifilm.org imagesjournal.com/issue09 wald.heim.at/redwood/510196/soundtracks Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr. by Rudolph Grey www.brightlightsfilm.com The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film Incredibly Strange Films (Re/Search) Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks: Conversations with 24 Actors, Writers, Producers and Directors from the Golden Age by Tom Weaver The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi by Arthur Lennig The Horror People by John Brosnan The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror by David J. Skal It Came From Weaver Five by Tom Weaver Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes by Tom Weaver Video Watchdog Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Yea or Nay (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - CRITIC REVIEWS OF "PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE"


"A routine idea, crudely written, directed and acted, provides just about the weakest SF-cum-horror thriller to come out of Hollywood in years."
Monthly Film Bulletin

"From the hammy intro by Criswell to the hammy afterword by Criswell, this grade Z 1956 home movie masquerading as a theatrical film is an unalloyed delight, raising rank amateurishness to the level of high comic art."
Joe Dante, Castle of Frankenstein

"Incredibly awful script, acting, special effects and editing mar the film a wee bit."
Ed Naha, Horrors: From Screen to Scream

"... so very bad that it exerts a strange fascination."
John Brosnan, The Horror People

"The merits of this incredible film have not been exaggerated. It's not actually the worst film ever made, but it's the most entertaining bad one you'll find... Worth watching nine times."
Michael Weldon, The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film

"... the worst horror film ever made... (an) abysmal, exploitative, misbegotten piece of trash... (a) miserable waste of celluloid."
Stephen King, Danse Macabre

"If you see it, it's unlikely you will argue that any film is worse...it's so bad that it borders on the ludicrous. To think that such an inept, berserk picture exists truly boggles the mind."
Danny Peary, Cult Movies

"... the film gives the appearance of having been slung together by drugged mortuary attendants."
Philip Strick, Science Fiction Movies

"It literally 'says' nothing, it has no characters, no story, no direction, no whatever; it's a completely unstructured dream produced with no interference from the conscious mind at all."
The Aurum Encyclopedia of Film: Science Fiction

"The director's magnum opus... inimitable..."
John Charles, Video Watchdog

"Despite its reputation, this is actually a long way from being the worst film of all time... With its papier mache flying saucer and the worst cardboard graveyard ever, this has become a cult favourite."
Stephen Jones, The Essential Monster Movie Guide

"The picture is utterly wretched-- almost incomprehensible-- and has deservedly been listed as one of the worst films ever made."
Arthur Lennig, The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi

"So mesmerizingly awful it actually improves (so to speak) with each viewing. And remember, it's all based on sworn testimony!"
Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide

"Subversion is the film's driving force, and Wood does it with style. Nothing here is what we expect, or what narrative demands. The graveyards have plastic headstones, paper mausoleums, and sticks for crosses. A simple sequence of driving from a police station to the cemetery becomes an existential nightmare as the sky shifts willy-nilly between day, dusk, and darkest night over the course of the drive."
Gary Morris, Bright Lights Film Journal

"Things I learned from this movie: Funerals take place at 4:00 am, spacecraft developed by advanced aliens are unable to fly without wobbling, outer space is awful damn windy..."
Andrew Borntrager, BadMovies.org

"The ultimate cult flick"
John Wirt, Baton Rouge Advocate

"This is a perfect film... the standard by which all other vampire/UFO, grave robber films must be found wanting."
Clayton Trapp Brilliant Observations on 1173 Films

"Whether it's the obviously cardboard tombstones, astoundingly stupid 'day for night' photography or the delightfully clumsy performances... Plan 9 provides guaranteed laughs."
Brian Lindsey, Eccentric-Cinema.com

"...sluggish, clunky, repetitive, a technical nightmare, without proper funds, badly-acted, and preachy almost to the point of an insult. Yet it is absolutely earnest. Therein lies its humour and its persistent appeal to cult audiences: it tries so hard, it tries so honestly, and it fails so horribly."
James O'Ehley, The Sci-Fi Movie Page

"What's most striking is the sincerity that Wood brings to his work. The man doubtlessly thought himself to be a capable filmmaker and believed he had something of value to tell audiences. The result is a strange and endearing sweetness that radiates from every frame of Plan 9. It's sort of like watching the Special Olympics -- Wood may not be the most fleet-footed guy on the track, but you're pulling for him anyway."
David Lazarus, Salon

"In many ways, Plan 9 from Outer Space is the ULTIMATE cinematic experience. It requires absolute attention from the audience, and demands complete suspension of disbelief in order for the premise and performances to work. And these are good things. Movies are meant to engage, to stir and involve. If Plan 9 is going to entertain you, you have to meet it halfway. You have to forgive its flaws and its gaffes and simply enjoy."
Bill Gibron, DVD Verdict

"Ed Smith's (sic) nano-budget sci-fi howler just may be the worst movie ever made. But if you don't find yourself giggling you're not of this Earth."
Thomas Delapa, Boulder Weekly

"I'm sure Plan 9 was horrible in its day. I have no doubt of this based on what I've seen watching it. But frankly, it can't even begin to compare to the lousy stuff that circulates today."
Steve Anderson, Film Threat

"(Its) sheer incompetence makes it oddly lovable and it's packed with incident. At least they tried, eh?"
Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image

"... a delightful exercise in desultory special effects, off-the-wall dialogue, and low-budget mishigas."
J. Hoberman

"Plan 9 from Outer Space is the ultimate in improvised filmmaking."
Guido Henkel, DVDReview.com

"Ed Wood, Jr.'s 1956 reverse-classic Plan 9 from Outer Space may not be the Worst Film of All Time... but in its total conviction, strained seriousness, wacky syntax, absurd non sequiturs and deliriously inept direction through Wood's bullhorn, it was certainly the most entertaining slice of '50s kitsch."
Paul Mandell, Film Score Monthly

"Now that almost all great directors have been thoroughly analyzed in print, zonked-out eccentrics are having their day, and Ed Wood is the zonkiest of all. He lies somewhere in the twilight zone between idiocy and inspiration, between genius and hopelessness. He was inspired all right, but by goals and desires incomprehensible to us mere mortals. Plan 9 from Outer Space... is testimony to Wood's guilelessness-- he can't even make a cheap bad movie right, but he makes it his own way."
Bill Warren, Keep Watching the Skies (revised edition)

Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Yea or Nay (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - CRITIC REVIEWS OF "PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE"

"A routine idea, crudely written, directed and acted, provides just about the weakest SF-cum-horror thriller to come out of Hollywood in years." Monthly Film Bulletin "From the hammy intro by Criswell to the hammy afterword by Criswell, this grade Z 1956 home movie masquerading as a theatrical film is an unalloyed delight, raising rank amateurishness to the level of high comic art." Joe Dante, Castle of Frankenstein "Incredibly awful script, acting, special effects and editing mar the film a wee bit." Ed Naha, Horrors: From Screen to Scream "... so very bad that it exerts a strange fascination." John Brosnan, The Horror People "The merits of this incredible film have not been exaggerated. It's not actually the worst film ever made, but it's the most entertaining bad one you'll find... Worth watching nine times." Michael Weldon, The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film "... the worst horror film ever made... (an) abysmal, exploitative, misbegotten piece of trash... (a) miserable waste of celluloid." Stephen King, Danse Macabre "If you see it, it's unlikely you will argue that any film is worse...it's so bad that it borders on the ludicrous. To think that such an inept, berserk picture exists truly boggles the mind." Danny Peary, Cult Movies "... the film gives the appearance of having been slung together by drugged mortuary attendants." Philip Strick, Science Fiction Movies "It literally 'says' nothing, it has no characters, no story, no direction, no whatever; it's a completely unstructured dream produced with no interference from the conscious mind at all." The Aurum Encyclopedia of Film: Science Fiction "The director's magnum opus... inimitable..." John Charles, Video Watchdog "Despite its reputation, this is actually a long way from being the worst film of all time... With its papier mache flying saucer and the worst cardboard graveyard ever, this has become a cult favourite." Stephen Jones, The Essential Monster Movie Guide "The picture is utterly wretched-- almost incomprehensible-- and has deservedly been listed as one of the worst films ever made." Arthur Lennig, The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi "So mesmerizingly awful it actually improves (so to speak) with each viewing. And remember, it's all based on sworn testimony!" Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide "Subversion is the film's driving force, and Wood does it with style. Nothing here is what we expect, or what narrative demands. The graveyards have plastic headstones, paper mausoleums, and sticks for crosses. A simple sequence of driving from a police station to the cemetery becomes an existential nightmare as the sky shifts willy-nilly between day, dusk, and darkest night over the course of the drive." Gary Morris, Bright Lights Film Journal "Things I learned from this movie: Funerals take place at 4:00 am, spacecraft developed by advanced aliens are unable to fly without wobbling, outer space is awful damn windy..." Andrew Borntrager, BadMovies.org "The ultimate cult flick" John Wirt, Baton Rouge Advocate "This is a perfect film... the standard by which all other vampire/UFO, grave robber films must be found wanting." Clayton Trapp Brilliant Observations on 1173 Films "Whether it's the obviously cardboard tombstones, astoundingly stupid 'day for night' photography or the delightfully clumsy performances... Plan 9 provides guaranteed laughs." Brian Lindsey, Eccentric-Cinema.com "...sluggish, clunky, repetitive, a technical nightmare, without proper funds, badly-acted, and preachy almost to the point of an insult. Yet it is absolutely earnest. Therein lies its humour and its persistent appeal to cult audiences: it tries so hard, it tries so honestly, and it fails so horribly." James O'Ehley, The Sci-Fi Movie Page "What's most striking is the sincerity that Wood brings to his work. The man doubtlessly thought himself to be a capable filmmaker and believed he had something of value to tell audiences. The result is a strange and endearing sweetness that radiates from every frame of Plan 9. It's sort of like watching the Special Olympics -- Wood may not be the most fleet-footed guy on the track, but you're pulling for him anyway." David Lazarus, Salon "In many ways, Plan 9 from Outer Space is the ULTIMATE cinematic experience. It requires absolute attention from the audience, and demands complete suspension of disbelief in order for the premise and performances to work. And these are good things. Movies are meant to engage, to stir and involve. If Plan 9 is going to entertain you, you have to meet it halfway. You have to forgive its flaws and its gaffes and simply enjoy." Bill Gibron, DVD Verdict "Ed Smith's (sic) nano-budget sci-fi howler just may be the worst movie ever made. But if you don't find yourself giggling you're not of this Earth." Thomas Delapa, Boulder Weekly "I'm sure Plan 9 was horrible in its day. I have no doubt of this based on what I've seen watching it. But frankly, it can't even begin to compare to the lousy stuff that circulates today." Steve Anderson, Film Threat "(Its) sheer incompetence makes it oddly lovable and it's packed with incident. At least they tried, eh?" Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image "... a delightful exercise in desultory special effects, off-the-wall dialogue, and low-budget mishigas." J. Hoberman "Plan 9 from Outer Space is the ultimate in improvised filmmaking." Guido Henkel, DVDReview.com "Ed Wood, Jr.'s 1956 reverse-classic Plan 9 from Outer Space may not be the Worst Film of All Time... but in its total conviction, strained seriousness, wacky syntax, absurd non sequiturs and deliriously inept direction through Wood's bullhorn, it was certainly the most entertaining slice of '50s kitsch." Paul Mandell, Film Score Monthly "Now that almost all great directors have been thoroughly analyzed in print, zonked-out eccentrics are having their day, and Ed Wood is the zonkiest of all. He lies somewhere in the twilight zone between idiocy and inspiration, between genius and hopelessness. He was inspired all right, but by goals and desires incomprehensible to us mere mortals. Plan 9 from Outer Space... is testimony to Wood's guilelessness-- he can't even make a cheap bad movie right, but he makes it his own way." Bill Warren, Keep Watching the Skies (revised edition) Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

In The Know (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - TRIVIA


As a child, Poughkeepsie-born Edward Davis Wood, Jr., was often punished by his mother Lillian by being made to wear frilly girls' dresses. Consequently, Wood was a heterosexual transvestite all of his adult life.

"Junior" Wood got his start in films as an usher at the Bardavon Theater on Maple Street, eventually working his way up to ticket taker and assistant manager.

Ed Wood joined the Marines at age 17 and saw action during World War II. As part of Operation Galvanic, Wood participated in the three-day invasion of Tarawa in November of 1943, during which over a thousand American lives were lost.

Wood once roomed with independent producer Alex Gordon, who eventually moved out for fear that Wood's cross-dressing might reflect badly on his own career. Gordon remained on good terms with Wood and introduced him to Bela Lugosi.

Ed Wood's favorite movie was Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932).

Executive producer J. Edward Reynolds hoped the profits from Plan 9 would underwrite a film biography of evangelist Billy Sunday.

Previewed as Grave Robbers from Outer Space at the Carlton Theater in Los Angeles on March 15, 1957, the film went into general release as Plan 9 from Outer Space in July of 1959, on a double bill with the British suspense thriller Time Lock (1957), which featured a pre-James Bond Sean Connery.

Interiors were filmed at Quality Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Leading actor Gregory Walcott was at the time a busy Hollywood contract player who attended the same Baptist church as executive producer J. Edward Reynolds and acted in Plan 9 from Outer Space as a favor.

Walcott's onscreen wife, Mona McKinnon, was a roommate of Dolores Fuller, a former girlfriend of Ed Wood and star of Wood's autobiographical Glen or Glenda (1953). McKinnon and Fuller had acted together in Ron Ormond's Mesa of Lost Women (1953), often short listed as one of the worst movies of all time.

Dressed as a morbid Charles Addams character, Maila Nurmi had won first prize at the Bal Caribe, a Hollywood masquerade ball in 1953, and was subsequently hired by KABC-TV's program director Hunt Stromberg, Jr. to be an on-air horror movie hostess the following year. Thirty years later, Nurmi sued Cassandra Peterson, aka "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" for trademark infringement.

Cast in Plan 9 as UFO-chasing Colonel Tom Edwards, Tom Keene was born George Duryea in Rochester, New York, and studied at Columbia University and Carnegie Tech before heading west. After undergoing a name change at RKO Studios, Keene enjoyed a long career in Poverty Row westerns and episodic television. The one-time "Honorary Mayor of Sherman Oaks" Keene died of cancer in 1963.

Color blind cinematographer William C. Thompson had also lensed such cult favorites as Dwain Esper's Maniac (1934), Dementia, aka Daughter of Horror (1955) and The Astounding She-Monster (1957).

Paul Marco's "Kelton the Cop" got his screen surname from the street on which his agent lived.

Top-billed Tor Johnson was a Sweden-born pro wrestler who also appeared in such studio films as Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) with William Powell and Myrna Loy, Road to Rio (1947) with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and State of the Union (1948) with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Johnson died in 1971.

In 2006, Tor Johnson was honored by MTV as one of "10 Actors Who Can Take a Folding Chair to the Face."

In the footage used in Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bela Lugosi wears one of the Dracula capes he wore when playing the part on stage. After his death, he was buried in the same cape.

Cast member Dudley Manlove had been the announcer for the NBC Radio mystery program Candy Matson, Yukon 2-8209 in San Francisco and migrated to Los Angeles after the series' cancellation in 1951.

The contemporary six-man lounge combo The Dudley Manlove Quartet takes its name from the California-born actor, who died in 1996.

Manlove's onscreen amanuensis, Joanna Lee, enjoyed a successful late life career as a Hollywood scriptwriter and director. Lee penned the topical TV movies Cage Without a Key (1975), I Want to Keep My Baby (1976) and Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night (1977).

Special Guest Star John "Bunny" Breckinridge was a direct descendent and namesake of 14th American Vice President John Cabell Breckinridge.

Seen briefly as an army general, Lyle Talbot is the father of Stephen Talbot, who played Gilbert on the television series Leave It To Beaver.

Plan 9's atmospheric score was cobbled together from existing library tracks by music packager Gordon Zahler, paraplegic son of Poverty Row music director Lee Zahler. The film's infamous main title is actually composer Trevor Duncan's "Grip of the Law," written for Great Britain's Impress Mood Music Library. In 1960, CBS Television used the cue to score a broadcast covering Soviet premiere Nikita Kruschev's visit to America.

Ed Wood never profited from the theatrical release or belated cult acclaim of Plan 9 from Outer Space and died homeless in 1978.

Sources:
Cult Movies by Danny Peary
Cult Movies by Karl & Philip French
AFI
www.scifilm.org
imagesjournal.com/issue09
wald.heim.at/redwood/510196/soundtracks
Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr. by Rudolph Grey
www.brightlightsfilm.com
The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film
Incredibly Strange Films (Re/Search)
Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks: Conversations with 24 Actors, Writers, Producers and Directors from the Golden Age by Tom Weaver
The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi by Arthur Lennig
The Horror People by John Brosnan
The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror by David J. Skal
It Came From Weaver Five by Tom Weaver
Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes by Tom Weaver
Video Watchdog

Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

In The Know (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - TRIVIA

As a child, Poughkeepsie-born Edward Davis Wood, Jr., was often punished by his mother Lillian by being made to wear frilly girls' dresses. Consequently, Wood was a heterosexual transvestite all of his adult life. "Junior" Wood got his start in films as an usher at the Bardavon Theater on Maple Street, eventually working his way up to ticket taker and assistant manager. Ed Wood joined the Marines at age 17 and saw action during World War II. As part of Operation Galvanic, Wood participated in the three-day invasion of Tarawa in November of 1943, during which over a thousand American lives were lost. Wood once roomed with independent producer Alex Gordon, who eventually moved out for fear that Wood's cross-dressing might reflect badly on his own career. Gordon remained on good terms with Wood and introduced him to Bela Lugosi. Ed Wood's favorite movie was Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932). Executive producer J. Edward Reynolds hoped the profits from Plan 9 would underwrite a film biography of evangelist Billy Sunday. Previewed as Grave Robbers from Outer Space at the Carlton Theater in Los Angeles on March 15, 1957, the film went into general release as Plan 9 from Outer Space in July of 1959, on a double bill with the British suspense thriller Time Lock (1957), which featured a pre-James Bond Sean Connery. Interiors were filmed at Quality Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard. Leading actor Gregory Walcott was at the time a busy Hollywood contract player who attended the same Baptist church as executive producer J. Edward Reynolds and acted in Plan 9 from Outer Space as a favor. Walcott's onscreen wife, Mona McKinnon, was a roommate of Dolores Fuller, a former girlfriend of Ed Wood and star of Wood's autobiographical Glen or Glenda (1953). McKinnon and Fuller had acted together in Ron Ormond's Mesa of Lost Women (1953), often short listed as one of the worst movies of all time. Dressed as a morbid Charles Addams character, Maila Nurmi had won first prize at the Bal Caribe, a Hollywood masquerade ball in 1953, and was subsequently hired by KABC-TV's program director Hunt Stromberg, Jr. to be an on-air horror movie hostess the following year. Thirty years later, Nurmi sued Cassandra Peterson, aka "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" for trademark infringement. Cast in Plan 9 as UFO-chasing Colonel Tom Edwards, Tom Keene was born George Duryea in Rochester, New York, and studied at Columbia University and Carnegie Tech before heading west. After undergoing a name change at RKO Studios, Keene enjoyed a long career in Poverty Row westerns and episodic television. The one-time "Honorary Mayor of Sherman Oaks" Keene died of cancer in 1963. Color blind cinematographer William C. Thompson had also lensed such cult favorites as Dwain Esper's Maniac (1934), Dementia, aka Daughter of Horror (1955) and The Astounding She-Monster (1957). Paul Marco's "Kelton the Cop" got his screen surname from the street on which his agent lived. Top-billed Tor Johnson was a Sweden-born pro wrestler who also appeared in such studio films as Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) with William Powell and Myrna Loy, Road to Rio (1947) with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and State of the Union (1948) with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Johnson died in 1971. In 2006, Tor Johnson was honored by MTV as one of "10 Actors Who Can Take a Folding Chair to the Face." In the footage used in Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bela Lugosi wears one of the Dracula capes he wore when playing the part on stage. After his death, he was buried in the same cape. Cast member Dudley Manlove had been the announcer for the NBC Radio mystery program Candy Matson, Yukon 2-8209 in San Francisco and migrated to Los Angeles after the series' cancellation in 1951. The contemporary six-man lounge combo The Dudley Manlove Quartet takes its name from the California-born actor, who died in 1996. Manlove's onscreen amanuensis, Joanna Lee, enjoyed a successful late life career as a Hollywood scriptwriter and director. Lee penned the topical TV movies Cage Without a Key (1975), I Want to Keep My Baby (1976) and Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night (1977). Special Guest Star John "Bunny" Breckinridge was a direct descendent and namesake of 14th American Vice President John Cabell Breckinridge. Seen briefly as an army general, Lyle Talbot is the father of Stephen Talbot, who played Gilbert on the television series Leave It To Beaver. Plan 9's atmospheric score was cobbled together from existing library tracks by music packager Gordon Zahler, paraplegic son of Poverty Row music director Lee Zahler. The film's infamous main title is actually composer Trevor Duncan's "Grip of the Law," written for Great Britain's Impress Mood Music Library. In 1960, CBS Television used the cue to score a broadcast covering Soviet premiere Nikita Kruschev's visit to America. Ed Wood never profited from the theatrical release or belated cult acclaim of Plan 9 from Outer Space and died homeless in 1978. Sources: Cult Movies by Danny Peary Cult Movies by Karl & Philip French AFI www.scifilm.org imagesjournal.com/issue09 wald.heim.at/redwood/510196/soundtracks Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood Jr. by Rudolph Grey www.brightlightsfilm.com The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film Incredibly Strange Films (Re/Search) Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks: Conversations with 24 Actors, Writers, Producers and Directors from the Golden Age by Tom Weaver The Immortal Count: The Life and Films of Bela Lugosi by Arthur Lennig The Horror People by John Brosnan The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror by David J. Skal It Came From Weaver Five by Tom Weaver Return of the B Science Fiction and Horror Heroes by Tom Weaver Video Watchdog Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Quote It (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - QUOTES FROM "PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE"


"We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future." Criswell "And now for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are giving you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friends, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty, let us reward the innocent. My friends... can your heart stand the shocking facts about Grave Robbers from Outer Space?" Criswell

"The ever-beautiful flowers she had planted with her own hands became nothing more than the lost roses of her cheeks." Criswell

"Finding a mess like this ought to make anyone frightened." Inspector Clay

"Say Lieutenant, you get that funny odor?" Patrolman Larry

"Last night I saw a flying object that couldn't have possibly been from this planet, but I can't talk about it. I'm muzzled by Army Brass." Jeff Trent

"Inspector Clay's dead... murdered... and somebody's responsible." Lieutenant Harper

"People turning south on the freeway were startled when they saw three flying saucers flying over Hollywood Boulevard." Criswell

"There comes a time in each man's life where he can't even believe his own eyes." Criswell

"For a time we tried to contact them by radio but no response. Then they attacked a town. A small town, I'll admit, but nevertheless a town of people... people who died." Colonel Edwards

"Looks like we beat them off again, sir." Army Captain

"Well, as long as they can think, we'll have our problems. But those whom we are using cannot think. They are dead, brought to a simulated life by our electrode guns. You know, it's an interesting thing when you consider... the earth people who can think are so frightened by those who cannot... the dead." Eros

"Now, off to your wild blue yonders." Paula Trent

"Hey, Edie, how about you and me balling it up in Albuquerque?" Copilot Danny

"It's quiet all right... like a tomb. I'm sorry, Jeff. That was a bad joke." Edie

"Why do I have to get hooked up with these spook details? Monsters, graves, bodies!" Kelton the Cop

"Bring the giant here, that I might get a better look at him." The Ruler

"I'll bet my badge right now we haven't seen the last of those weirdies." Lieutenant Harper

"I'll tell you one thing. If a little green man pops out at me, I'm shooting first and asking questions later." Jeff Trent

"I, a fiend?" Eros

"All you of Earth are idiots." Eros

"You see... you see... your stupid minds, stupid, stupid!" Eros

"Take a can of your gasoline. Say this can of gasoline is the sun. Now, you spread a thin line of it to a ball, representing the earth. Now, the gasoline represents the sunlight, the sun particles. Here we saturate the ball with the gasoline, the sunlight. Then we put a flame to the ball. The flame will speedily travel around the earth, back along the line of gasoline to the can, or the sun itself. It will explode this source and spread to every place that gasoline, our sunlight, touches. Explode the sunlight here, gentlemen, you explode the universe. Explode the sunlight here and a chain reaction will occur direct to the sun itself and to all the planets that sunlight touches, to every planet in the universe. This is why you must be stopped." -Eros

"Perhaps, on your way home, someone will pass you in the dark, and you will never know it. For they will be from outer space." Criswell

Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Quote It (Plan 9 From Outer Space) - QUOTES FROM "PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE"

"We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future." Criswell "And now for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are giving you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friends, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty, let us reward the innocent. My friends... can your heart stand the shocking facts about Grave Robbers from Outer Space?" Criswell "The ever-beautiful flowers she had planted with her own hands became nothing more than the lost roses of her cheeks." Criswell "Finding a mess like this ought to make anyone frightened." Inspector Clay "Say Lieutenant, you get that funny odor?" Patrolman Larry "Last night I saw a flying object that couldn't have possibly been from this planet, but I can't talk about it. I'm muzzled by Army Brass." Jeff Trent "Inspector Clay's dead... murdered... and somebody's responsible." Lieutenant Harper "People turning south on the freeway were startled when they saw three flying saucers flying over Hollywood Boulevard." Criswell "There comes a time in each man's life where he can't even believe his own eyes." Criswell "For a time we tried to contact them by radio but no response. Then they attacked a town. A small town, I'll admit, but nevertheless a town of people... people who died." Colonel Edwards "Looks like we beat them off again, sir." Army Captain "Well, as long as they can think, we'll have our problems. But those whom we are using cannot think. They are dead, brought to a simulated life by our electrode guns. You know, it's an interesting thing when you consider... the earth people who can think are so frightened by those who cannot... the dead." Eros "Now, off to your wild blue yonders." Paula Trent "Hey, Edie, how about you and me balling it up in Albuquerque?" Copilot Danny "It's quiet all right... like a tomb. I'm sorry, Jeff. That was a bad joke." Edie "Why do I have to get hooked up with these spook details? Monsters, graves, bodies!" Kelton the Cop "Bring the giant here, that I might get a better look at him." The Ruler "I'll bet my badge right now we haven't seen the last of those weirdies." Lieutenant Harper "I'll tell you one thing. If a little green man pops out at me, I'm shooting first and asking questions later." Jeff Trent "I, a fiend?" Eros "All you of Earth are idiots." Eros "You see... you see... your stupid minds, stupid, stupid!" Eros "Take a can of your gasoline. Say this can of gasoline is the sun. Now, you spread a thin line of it to a ball, representing the earth. Now, the gasoline represents the sunlight, the sun particles. Here we saturate the ball with the gasoline, the sunlight. Then we put a flame to the ball. The flame will speedily travel around the earth, back along the line of gasoline to the can, or the sun itself. It will explode this source and spread to every place that gasoline, our sunlight, touches. Explode the sunlight here, gentlemen, you explode the universe. Explode the sunlight here and a chain reaction will occur direct to the sun itself and to all the planets that sunlight touches, to every planet in the universe. This is why you must be stopped." -Eros "Perhaps, on your way home, someone will pass you in the dark, and you will never know it. For they will be from outer space." Criswell Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Modern women. They've been like that all down through the ages.
- Jeff Trent
You do not need guns.
- Eros
Maybe we think we do.
- Jeff Trent
Saucers? You mean the kind from up there?
- Paula Trent
Now, don't you worry. The saucers are up there. The graveyard is out there. But I'll be locked up safely in there.
- Paula Trent
Visits? That would indicate visitors.
- Air Force Captain

Trivia

Funded by a Baptist church, the entire cast let themselves be baptized.

The aliens obligingly fly by the ABC, CBS, and NBC buildings in Los Angeles.

The police cars and uniforms are authentic: one of the actor's sons was a policeman and supplied the equipment.

Bela Lugosi died four days after shooting began Wood abandoned the project and rewrote the script to accommodate all the footage shot in a cemetery and outside Tor Johnson's house in the new production. Bela Lugosi's part was taken over by Tom Mason, Wood's wife's chiropractor, who was significantly taller than Lugosi, and played the part with a cape covering his face.

Wood's original title for the film was "Grave Robbers from Outer Space", but the Baptist ministers who financed the film objected to that title, so he changed it to "Plan 9" (never, of course, making any reference to what the previous eight plans were).

Notes

The working title for the film was Grave Robbers from Outer Space. Although there is a copyright statement on the film, it was not registered for copyright at the time of its release. However, Reynolds Pictures, Inc. registered a videocassette of the film for copyright under the number PA-102-338 on April 23, 1981. The closing cast credits differ in order from the opening credits. Edward D. Wood, Jr.'s onscreen credit reads: "Written-Produced-Directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr." and Bela Lugosi, John Breckinridge and Lyle Talbot are introduced by the phrase "With Guest Stars."
       Preceding the opening credits, announcer Criswell directly addresses the audience and introduces the story of the gravediggers from outer space, intimating that, although it was hidden from the press, the story could be true. Criswell also closes the film, warning the audience that the future might bring new horrors. Criswell and Vampira were both Los Angeles television personalities near the time of the film's production. While Vampira hosted a horror film show in her vampire attire, Criswell specialized in off-beat and often humorous predictions on his own and other television shows. Plan 9 from Outer Space marked Criswell's feature film debut.
       According to a September 9, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, Wood cast Lugosi as the star of The Vampire's Tomb, a film that was never completed. When Lugosi died in August 1956, Wood decided to use unreleased footage from that film to make Plan 9 from Outer Space. Lugosi last acted in the film The Black Sleep (see entry above), however, Plan 9 from Outer Space was released several years later.
       Although a November 1956 Daily Variety news item adds Richard Powers and Tom Mason to the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. Several modern sources claim that Mason was the double for Lugosi, when Wood needed more footage after the actor's death. Modern sources also add the following people to the cast: Donald A. Davis, Johnny Duncan, Karl Johnson, J. Edward Reynolds and Hugh Thomas, Jr. As noted in the closing credits, portions of the film were shot in Hollywood, CA. Modern sources add Sylmar and the San Fernando Valley as additional location sites.
       Since its release, Plan 9 from Outer Space has become known affectionately among film fans as one of the worst films ever made. Its reputation is due, in part, to the film's many continuity lapses, such as nighttime scenes apparently shot during the day, and poorly built props, particularly the alien spaceship, which appears to be a paper plate hanging from a string. The 1996 production Ed Wood, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Edward D. Wood, Jr., was partially centered on the director's relationship with Lugosi and the filming of what would become Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Miscellaneous Notes

Bela Lugosi suffered a heart attack and died after only four days' shooting and was replaced by Dr. Tom Adams.

Previewed at the Carlton Theater, Los Angeles CA, under the title "Grave Robbers from Outer Space," March 15, 1957.

Released in United States Summer July 1959

Released in United States October 1997 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (Special Events) October 23-30, 1997.)

Released in United States October 1997

Released in United States Summer July 1959

Began shooting November 1956.