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PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE - 4 Slimes
Unrated
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. Unless...it 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.

Quotes: 

  • 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 

FileDialog
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 

ImageImageImage
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 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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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 ... 7 8 [9] 10 11 ... 13
Re: Plan 9 from Outer Space
Reply #65. Posted on April 13, 2007, 02:32:04 PM by Mr. Svinlesha
I want to write a hymn to this movie.

The thing about this movie is that it's like an onion – an onion of bad.  You notice the bad on the surface, but every time you peel off a layer, you find another layer of bad underneath.  This bad goes all the way to the core.  In the words of a famous poet, this movie is bad to the bone.

Or, if you prefer, consider this.  Accept for a moment Plato's notion of a metaphysical world of archetypes: pure forms, of which the objects of the material world are mere shadows. In this metaphysical realm there exists an archetype of the Bad Movie, which is so bad that it's almost as bad as Plan 9 from Outer Space, only worse.  The Bad Movie contains all of those elements, both concrete and ephemeral, that make up a bad movie; and all the bad movies found in the material world are mere reflected forms this archetype.  Well, if that's the case, then Ed Wood must have been possessed by some sort of ancient Greek extas while making this film, a grandiose mystical state that enabled him in his director's vision to create a movie so bad that it stands still today as an archetypal monument: the closest a mere mortal has ever come to representing the Bad Movie archetype in the World of Forms.  In fact, my friends, I put it to you, that this movie's badness actually constitutes PROOF that Plato was right, and that ARCHETYPES DO EXIST! 

For how else are we to explain the badness of this film?



But anyway, about that onion...first you notice all the general stuff, like the not-acting (well, we can't really call that acting, can we?), the sets, the incoherent plot, etc.  That's one level of bad.  But for me, that level of bad was only of interest for the first few viewings. 

After that I began to go deeper into the bad, and there I discovered a second onion peel of bad, namely, THE MUSIC.  My God, man, that music is bad.  It is soooo bad.  Few people comment on the soundtrack to this film, but it has to rank as one of the all time worst film themes in recorded history.  I must confess I viewed the film a few more times just to listen to the awful cacophony of noise.


Then, the next peel, the editing.  Like when Paula is threatened by the Undead. 

Shot of Paula running through a field, OUTDOORS. 

Shot of Vampira standing in the dark, INDOORS. 

Shot of the chiropractor with a cape over his face, INDOORS. 

Shot of Paula again, fainting by the side of road, OUTDOORS.  It is evening.  The audience is probably supposed to believe that these undead are right on her heels, but we are instead merely disoriented.  Up drives a fat little man with pants pulled up to his armpits and hops of out his car.  ”Mrs. Clay, Mrs. Clay” he yells, distressed.  He looks up, left. 

Shot of Vampira, standing in the dark, INDOORS. 

Shot of the little fat guy, OUTDOORS.  He looks right. 

Shot of the chiropractor with a cape over his face, INDOORS.

STOP THIS s**t!  The audience thinks.  WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

And so on, and so on, and on, and on, and on.  Editing so bad it is utterly beyond belief. 


Then, in addition to the plot incoherent, there is also the dialog incoherent.  Such as when the Army's “Head of Saucer Operations” is quizzed by his superior, “Do you believe in saucers?” (Yes! With Milk!), and is warned  he will be court martialled  if he answers yes, despite the fact that his friggin job is hunting down saucers.  WTF? 

But this only the third level of bad, because beneath this level is a fourth level having to do with the actual writing itself.  Plan 9 is written as if by someone who speaks English as a second language.  Or rather, it is written as if it was originally written in English, then translated into Japanese or Swahili or something, and then “back-translated” into English again on the cheap by, say, a Norwegian college student.  The sentences that make up the dialog are themselves often grammatically incoherent.  My favorite comes at the end of the film, when Criskin intones,  approximately, “One night someone may pass you in the dark, and you will never know, for they will be from OUTER SPACE!”  This sentence simply makes no sense.  Will I not know that they have passed me, because they are from outer space?  Why would the fact that they are from outer space make it impossible for me to detect that they have passed me?  Does being from outer space make them invisible?  Or does he mean that I will never know that they are from outer space, because it's dark when they pass me?  If so, shouldn't he have said, “One night someone from outer space may pass you, and you will never know, for it will be DARK!”  Is he talking about me driving on the freeway?  What if I'm sitting on my wicker porch chair?

And so on.

The film if is chock-a-block full of this stuff.  You can spend literally hours just marveling at it.

This is where I'm at in the onion at this point.  Someday I'm sure I'll pull back this peel and find yet another layer of bad beneath it.  Because, my friends, the bad in this movie goes all the way down to the bottom.


And there is no bottom.
Re: Plan 9 from Outer Space
Reply #66. Posted on April 17, 2007, 10:53:46 AM by Karmyn
How did Kelton not notice Tor Johnson trying to sneak up on him? He is such an incomptent idiot. Poor Kelton. How he survived three movies I'll never know. Ah, Paul Marco, you were special.
Re: Plan 9 from Outer Space
Reply #67. Posted on April 20, 2007, 06:11:33 PM by Greenhornet
(More)Stuff To Watch For:
Vampira FLINCHES when she is shot at!  BounceGiggle
Re: Plan 9 from Outer Space
Reply #68. Posted on April 22, 2007, 03:21:21 PM by JonAgar
This movie was the one that convinced me that I like bad movies better than good ones.

Good movies are always the same....the hero wins in the end.

Bad movies have so much to give on so many levels.  They can't all be this one or King Kong v. Godzilla but after a while you don't even need two robots and a guy ranking on them to make them funny.

And Andrew's reviews are priceless.
Re: Plan 9 from Outer Space
Reply #69. Posted on April 23, 2007, 10:56:16 AM by Flangepart
And i thought only Ogres had layers.
Nice call, Mr. Svinlesha. I never notices the soundtrack before...unless my subconscience did, and that explains the drooling problim....

Oh, how i love it when the cop says. "Well, one thing s for sure...inspector Clay is dead...murdered...and somebody is responsable." Well, no duh, sherlock! Thats kinda what the word murder Implys!
All hail Plan 9!
Re: Plan 9 from Outer Space
Reply #70. Posted on May 01, 2007, 02:44:12 AM by Mr. Svinlesha
Quote
Oh, how i love it when the cop says. "Well, one thing s for sure...inspector Clay is dead...murdered...and somebody is responsable." Well, no duh, sherlock! Thats kinda what the word murder Implys!

Yeah, that's a great example of what I mean.  This movie contains so much bad that the bad virtually explodes from every frame.  A mere mortal simply cannot absorb all the bad at one sitting.  First you have the kind of stupid, or inane, dialog, like your example here; and then you have the incoherent stuff, like the Jeff complaining about being "muzzled by big Army Brass!" and so on. 

You can spend literally hours just analyzing the badness of the script.  And the bad script is only one tiny part of the overall badness of this movie.

Its an archetype, I tell ya.

Re: Plan 9 from Outer Space
Reply #71. Posted on June 16, 2007, 01:17:42 PM by zond2
Were did the aliens costumes come from? The Rulers is definately from so midieaval flick but what about Eros and Tanna's? My wife and I thinking about making a set of hall costumes to math Eros and Tanna's but I would love to find a base pattern to bootstrap into shirts like theirs. Any suggestions?
Re: Plan 9 from Outer Space
Reply #72. Posted on June 16, 2007, 01:34:48 PM by Andrew
Were did the aliens costumes come from? The Rulers is definately from so midieaval flick but what about Eros and Tanna's? My wife and I thinking about making a set of hall costumes to math Eros and Tanna's but I would love to find a base pattern to bootstrap into shirts like theirs. Any suggestions?

I would bet that someone made them for the film.  The belts definitely appear to be some sort of Christmas thing, as Eros' has bells and stuff on it that makes me think it was intended for some sort of Christmas costume.
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