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Copyright 1958 Reynold's Pictures Inc.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 11 April 2007 (updated)

The Characters:  

  • Jeff Trent - Civilian airline pilot whose home is next to the graveyard. Beautiful house, but you have to keep the windows shut on hot summer nights.
  • Paula Trent - Jeff's wife; her idea of a marital aid is her husband's pillow (no, that is not a euphemism). She collects wicker patio furniture.
  • Colonel Edwards - Officially, flying saucers do not exist. That is why the Army needs an officer in charge of flying saucer defense. The Army is like that.
  • Patrolman Kelton - Policeman that is beat up several times by the undead. If he can survive the handgun handling antics of the other police, he might just make it to retirement.
  • Ghoul Man - Bela Lugosi! Old fellow killed when he walks into traffic and resurrected as an undead chiropractor.
  • Vampire Girl - Vampira! Former wife of the Ghoul Man (when alive). I do not believe that she died of natural causes. My guess is that she fell and stabbed herself in the heart with a fingernail.
  • Inspector Clay - Tor! Heavyset policeman who is killed by Vampire Girl. Resurrected for use as a giant fly eating zombie.
  • Eros - Member of a highly advanced alien race, but he fails to think ahead on several occasions. Blown to bits.
  • Tanna - Eros' assistant who forgot to recharge the flying saucer's fire extinguisher. Also blown to bits.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

This film is one of the greatest bad movies ever made. I have viewed "Plan 9 from Outer Space" on numerous occasions. In fact, at times I have grown weary of the movie and avoided it for a year or two. I eventually feel the need to watch it again and pull the DVD off the shelf. Though I can remember many parts of it scene for scene, the experience is one I will never outgrow - especially when my repeat viewing is done with someone else who has never seen it before.

What makes this a legend and an icon among the multitudes of bad movies? That it is entertaining, despite (or because of) all its faults, must be a significant reason. People watch films to be entertained. Ed Wood's masterpiece is definitely entertaining.

Open with Criswell, staring intently at the camera. He immediately delivers an imperative monologue that is pure genius. There is no way I could say those same lines without collapsing in laughter, but Criswell powers through the hilarious dialog like a man experiencing rapture. This is serious! Grave robbers from outer space are waiting for us in the future! Do you have the fortitude to believe me or is mankind doomed by your narrow mindedness? Listen!

Good grief, but that opening is the exact preface needed for a movie like "Plan 9 from Outer Space."

Large portions of the story take place in a graveyard near the Trent's home. The Ghoul Man's wife is buried there during the first few minutes of the story. The poor old man (at this point he is still alive) stumbles home. He is so distracted by thoughts of his departed love that he walks into traffic and is quickly turned into roadkill. Funny thing, I once went to the arcade shortly after losing a dog who was hit by a car. What did I play? Frogger. After about the fourth quarter, the macabre connection clicked in my pre-teen brain and I stop sacrificing green amphibians to the byte highway.

In any case, a flying saucer lands in the graveyard after the mourners depart the first service. The deceased wife is raised from the dead to become Vampire Girl. Her first victims are the gravediggers. Later, the old man is also resurrected as Ghoul Man. Both of the undead trap Inspector Clay between them and he becomes the third victim. Following his funeral, the massive police officer is also turned into a shambling ghoul. Why are the aliens raising the dead and causing them to kill the living?

Maybe somebody should have asked the aliens. A couple of questions are definitely in order after flying saucers appear in the sky over Hollywood. One of them also scares the underpants off of Jeff while he is at the controls of a commercial airliner. The saucers buzz around for a while before congregating in one patch of sky so the army can shoot sparklers at the ships. Eventually, the aliens get bored with the pyrotechnics and zip away.

When you finally see the aliens, they also become a source of entertainment. Eros and Tanna are dressed like characters from a high school production of "Peter Pan" (if both of them were playing Peter). Needless to say, a pair of adults wearing such attire is an oddity, even in California. We then find out that using the dead as mindless killers is "Plan 9" in the standard operational handbook. I would presume that the previous eight options were even less effective than using three zombies to depopulate a planet of three billion.

That works out pretty good, doesn't it? Each zombie need only dispatch a billion humans. Friends, I am being sarcastic. We can breed faster than the ghouls could kill us. In fact, if people learned to quickly walk away from the undead, deaths due to alien zombies would drop to nearly zero. Why not zero? I have read enough Yahoo News to know that people always manage to get killed in ways that defy belief. As many morons exist on planet Earth, one is going to fall asleep at the wrong time or try to run from Tor in high heels (the latter might be Ed Wood himself).

The sets are an important part of any movie; this is no exception. Lots of action takes place in the graveyard, which is populated with barely believable trees, tiny crypts, and wobbly gravestones. The inside of Eros' flying saucer is even better: a couple of dials on the wall and cheap wooden tables with miscellaneous equipment on them is used to depict the control room of a highly advanced spacecraft. Do not get me wrong, a sufficiently advanced technological race could easily create a ship with a control room completely devoid of gadgets. However, they would not then fill it with furniture from Value City and spare electronics. was a race made up entirely of Ed Wood clones and in that case, God help us all.

Nearly forgot to mention that the cockpit of Jeff's airline is separated from the rest of the "plane" by a shower curtain. It should have made the stewardess popping out from behind it more interesting, but did not. Ed Wood started making films like that later on.

While Jeff is away on a flight, the Ghoul Man enters the house and traumatizes Paula. Probably because she was told that she would be performing opposite Bela Lugosi, but discovers the other actor is actually a chiropractor. Yes, poor Bela passed away two years before this film was released, but Ed Wood had shot some footage of the man wearing a black cape. We sometimes see Bela, flourishing his cape, but most of the time the Ghoul man is a chiropractor. The stand-in also has a cape that he cleverly uses to obstruct his face. All you can see are his eyes, peering over the upheld cape (like the one neighbor from "Home Improvement," but dead).

Plan 9 has proven to be less effective than was hoped, so Eros opts for Plan 9B. That means sending the Ghoul Man into the Trents' backyard. A regular convention is going on, with Edwards, the Trents, and some police officers discussing recent events. Once there, the zombie is hit with a powerful decomposure ray (no, it does not make him giggle) that turns the body into a skeleton. Surely, now mankind will tremble before the might of...whatever planet Eros and Tanna come from.

Actually, it causes the perplexed humans to search the graveyard. They finally discover the flying saucer and are allowed inside by Eros. The smug alien realizes too late that letting a group of armed humans into the ship may have been a mistake. Sure, he sent the largest ghoul (that would be Tor) to capture Mrs. Trent, but now Jeff is in the control room. Every time Eros annoys Jeff, the indignant pilot either punches the alien or shoots something.

To head off any punching or shooting, Eros finally explains why he has been pestering Earth with ghouls and rotting chiropractors. Humanity is on the brink of an amazing discovery: solarmanite (or solaranite - it is hard to discern exactly what they are saying). Solarmanite is a bomb that will cause sunlight itself to explode. So powerful is this weapon that the entire universe will be destroyed in a massive chain reaction. That is why mankind must be stopped, at all costs. I presume the following conversation is why Eros does not trust humans.

First Scientist: "And this is the solarmanite bomb."
Second Scientist: "So, what does it do?"
First Scientist: "It causes sunlight to explode."
Second Scientist: "All of it?"
First Scientist: "Well, yes."
Second Scientist: "Wanna set it off?"

Jeff takes this news in stride; he punches Eros. The two fight as everyone except Tanna flees outside. The alien woman tries to get the ship into the air. She finds that the free-for-all between the two males is hampering her efforts, especially after Eros begins ripping up sections of the control panel and throwing them at Jeff. (Does that sound like a good idea to anybody?) Jeff eventually staggers out the hatch as the flying saucer lifts off. Unfortunately, for the aliens, the spaceship is on fire and one of the things that Eros threw at Jeff was the fire suppression system module. A fiery explosion destroys the saucer in midair. Mankind is free to discover solarmanite and reduce the universe to ash. Hooray!

Why do I always feel like a monkey with a hand grenade?

The dialog in "Plan 9 from Outer Space" is priceless. Sometimes it even makes sense. Most of the time it flies completely in the face of reason or contradicts things we watched. Eros' explanation of how the solarmanite bomb works, using a gas can and old rags in the analogy, is really funny. In almost every case, the preposterous lines are delivered with utmost sincerity. The commander that Eros and Tanna report to at intervals is an exception to that rule. He seems nonplussed and even rolls his eyes after one choice exchange.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Funerals are often scheduled for 4:00 am.
  • Spacecraft developed by advanced aliens are unable to fly without wobbling.
  • Police officers are taught to use their service revolvers to scratch an itch or gesture.
  • Artillery is used for low altitude anti-aircraft defense.
  • A fat man rising from his grave will cast a shadow that looks like Darth Vader.
  • There are "atmospheric conditions" in outer space.
  • Sunlight is flammable.
  • Earth has the best uniforms.
  • Revolvers use clips.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 3 mins - Listening to a kooky psychic tell me that I will be spending the rest of my life in the future, as I watch a B&W film from 1958, is strangely amusing.
  • 7 mins - Undead Ballerina brand makeup, when only the dead will do.
  • 8 mins - How many people were inside of that little crypt?
  • 22 mins - It's a giant metallic space breast! (Really cold in outer space too...)
  • 32 mins - Her waist is starting to wig me out. It does not look thick enough for the spine, arteries, and other internals that must pass through it.
  • 35 mins - Bela Lugosi is in the middle of a field, no - graveyard, no - field. What the heck?
  • 53 mins - Okay, I am officially sick of this scene. How many times is that? Six? Seven?
  • 75 mins - Tor's skeleton is much smaller than a casual viewer would expect.


  • Trent: "I'll tell you one thing: if a little green man pops out at me, I'm shooting first and asking questions later."
  • Eros: "Because all you of Earth are idiots!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note plannine1.wav Criswell: "My friends, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty; let us reward the innocent. My friends, can your hearts stand the shocking facts about grave robbers from outer space?"
Green Music Note plannine2.wav Policeman: "Suppose that saucer or whatever it was had something to do with this?"
Inspector: "Your guess is as good as mine Larry. One thing's sure: Inspector Clay's dead, murdered, and somebody's responsible."
Green Music Note plannine3.wav Alien Commander: "Plan 9 deals with the resurrection of the dead. Long distance electrodes shot into the pineal pituitary glands of recent dead. Have you attempted any of this plan as yet?"
Eros: "Yes, Excellency."
Alien Commander: "How successful has it been?"
Eros: "We have risen two so far. We shall be just as successful on more."
Green Music Note plannine4.wav Paula: "I have to have something to keep me company while you're away. Sometimes in the night when it does get a little lonely, I reach over and touch it. Then it doesn't seem so lonely anymore."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipplannine1.mpg - 3.6m
Eros enjoys a knuckle sandwich, courtesy of Trent.

Did he say, "Stupid mimes!" or is my hearing starting to go?

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