Plan 9 from Outer Space
Plan 9 from Outer Space (originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space) is a 1959 independently made American black-and-white science fiction horror film released by Distributors Corporation of America (as Valiant Pictures). The film was written, produced, directed, and edited by Ed Wood, and stars Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson, Vampira. The film also posthumously bills Bela Lugosi as a star (silent footage of the actor had actually been shot by Wood for another, unfinished film just prior to Lugosi's death in 1956).
Plan 9 from Outer Space tells the story of extraterrestrials who are seeking to stop humanity from creating a doomsday weapon that could destroy the universe. The aliens implement "Plan 9", a scheme to resurrect the Earth's dead. (Modern audiences would call these undead creatures zombies, but Plan 9 refers to them as "ghouls".) By causing chaos, the aliens hope the crisis will force humanity to listen to them. If not, the aliens will then destroy mankind with armies of the undead.
Plan 9 from Outer Space played on television in relative obscurity until 1980, when authors Harry and Michael Medved dubbed the film the "worst movie ever made". Both Wood and his film were posthumously awarded two of Medveds' Golden Turkey Awards, as the Worst Director Ever and Worst Film, respectively.
At the funeral of the Old Man's wife, mourners are gathered by an open grave, among them her husband (Bela Lugosi). Overhead, an airliner is heading toward Burbank, California. The pilot Jeff Trent (Gregory Walcott) and his co-pilot Danny (David De Mering) are blinded by a bright light and loud sound. They look outside and see a flying saucer. The pilots follow the saucer's flight until it lands at the graveyard, where the funeral's gravediggers are killed by a female zombie (Maila Nurmi).
At his home, lost in his thoughts of grief, the Old Man goes outside and (offscreen) steps in front of an oncoming car and is killed. Mourners at the Old Man's funeral later discover the dead gravediggers. Inspector Daniel Clay (Tor Johnson) and his police officers arrive, but Clay goes off alone to conduct his investigation.
Jeff Trent and his wife Paula (Mona McKinnon), who live near the graveyard, hear the sirens, and Jeff tells Paula about his saucer encounter, stating that the Army has since sworn him to secrecy. A powerful swooshing noise then knocks everyone to the ground at both the Trent residence and the nearby graveyard, as a saucer lands. Inspector Clay then encounters the female zombie and the reanimated corpse of the Old Man, and he is killed by them.
Newspaper headlines continue to report saucer sightings over Hollywood Boulevard, while a trio of saucers flies over Los Angeles. In Washington, D.C. the military fire missiles at more saucers, while the Chief of Saucer Operations, Col. Thomas Edwards (Tom Keene), reveals that the government has been covering up saucer attacks. He mentions that one small town was annihilated, hinting at a secret history of other encounters.
The aliens return to their Space Station 7. Commander Eros (Dudley Manlove) informs their Ruler (John Breckinridge) that he has been unsuccessful in contacting Earth's governments. To force their acknowledgment, Eros recommends implementing "Plan 9", which will resurrect recently human dead by stimulating their pituitary and pineal glands. Meanwhile, Trent, about to leave on another flight, is concerned for his wife's safety. He urges her to stay with her mother, but she insists on staying home. That night, the zombie Old Man rises and breaks into their house. He pursues Paula outside and is joined by his zombie wife and the zombie Inspector Clay. Paula barely escapes, but then collapses after her ordeal. All three zombies then return to Eros' saucer.
At the Pentagon, Gen. Roberts (Lyle Talbot) informs Edwards that the government has been receiving alien messages. They explain that the aliens are trying to prevent humanity from eventually destroying the universe. The general dispatches Edwards to San Fernando, California, where most of the alien activity has occurred.
Though the Undead are under alien control, zombie Clay suddenly attacks and nearly strangles Eros. The Ruler closely examines zombie Clay and then orders the zombie Old Man destroyed in order to further frighten humanity. He then approves Eros' Plan 9 to raise Undead armies and orders they march on the capitals of Earth.
In California the police and Edwards interview the Trents. Unknown to them, the flying saucer has returned to the graveyard. Officer Kelton (Paul Marco) encounters the zombie Old Man, who then chases him into the Trents' yard, where the zombie Old Man is hit with Eros' ray, causing his body to rapidly decompose. Not knowing what to make of this, the Trents, Edwards, and the police drive to the cemetery.
John Harper (Duke Moore) insists on leaving Paula in the car, but Paula refuses to stay alone. As a concession, Kelton stays behind. Eros and fellow alien Tanna (Joanna Lee) send zombie Clay to kidnap Paula and lure the other three to their saucer. Seeing the saucer's glow off in the distance, Trent and the police head in that direction. At the car, Kelton is knocked out by zombie Clay. Upon awakening, Kelton calls for help, and Patrolman Larry (Carl Anthony) comes to his aid.
Eros allows Trent and the police to enter with their guns drawn. He then tells them human weapons development will inevitably lead to the discovery of "Solaronite", a substance that has the effect of exploding "sunlight molecules". Such an explosion would set off an uncontrollable chain reaction, destroying the entire universe. Eros now believes humans are too immature and stupid, so he intends to destroy mankind. Eros threatens to kill Paula if Trent and the police try to force him to go with them. Officers Kelton and Larry arrive, spotting zombie Clay holding the unconscious Paula not far from the saucer. Realizing their weapons are useless, they sneak up behind Clay and club him with a length of wood, knocking him out. Eros sees this and says Clay's controlling ray has been shut off, which allows Paula to go free. A fight then breaks out between Eros and Jeff, but the saucer's equipment is damaged during the struggle, starting a fire aboard. The humans quickly escape, and Tanna and the unconscious Eros fly away in their now burning saucer, which finally explodes, killing them both; their zombies quickly decompose to just skeletal remains inside their clothing.
Background and genre
The film combines elements of science fiction, Atompunk, and gothic horror. Science fiction remained popular throughout the 1950s, though the genre had experienced significant changes in the post-war period. The Atomic Age, heralded by the development of nuclear weapons and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had inspired science fiction films which were dealing with the dangers of unrestricted science while spaceflight and the existence of extraterrestrial life and civilizations, more "traditional" elements of the genre, seemed to hold new fascination for audiences experiencing the start of the Space Race. On the other hand, Gothic fiction had enjoyed the height of its popularity in film during the 1930s and 1940s. It was experiencing a decline in the 1950s and was seen as old-fashioned. The combination of dated and modern elements, by 1950s standards, gives the film a rather anachronistic quality.
The film script seems to aim at making this an epic film, a "genre" which typically requires a big budget provided by a major film studio. That Ed Wood filmed the story with minimal financial resources underlines one of the qualities of his work: His ideas tended to be too expensive to actually put on film, and yet the director attempted them anyway. As Rob Craig argues, Wood's failed attempts result in the peculiar charm of the film to audiences. Craig finds that the film has much in common with both epic theatre ("grand melodrama on a minuscule budget") and the Theatre of the Absurd (characters acting as buffoons, nonsense and verbosity in dialogue, dream-like and fantasy imagery, hints of allegory, and a narrative structure where continuity is consistently undermined).
The introduction and its origins
The film opens with an introduction by Wood's friend, psychic Criswell: "Greetings my friends! We are all interested in the future, For that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives! ...". (This line appears in the narration for the General Motors' "Futurama" ride and its accompanying film, To New Horizons, that were part of the 1939 New York World's Fairyears before Criswell's own television program.) At the time of filming, Criswell was the star of the KLAC Channel 13 (now KCOP-13) television series, Criswell Predicts.The introduction could be an allusion to the opening lines of his show, but since no episodes of the television show are known to survive, a comparison is impossible. Craig suggests that Criswell's public persona was based on the style of a charismatic preacher, perhaps influenced by early televangelists. Criswell addresses the viewers repeatedly as "my friends", as if attempting to establish a bond between the speaker and the audience. The line is likely to derive from his show, and would not be out of place in a segment where a televangelist addresses his congregation. Another phrase of the introduction "Future events such as these will affect you in the future", served as a signature line for Criswell. He used it repeatedly in his newspaper and magazine columns, and probably his show as well.
Another line asserts that the audience is interested in "the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable", probably assuming that the film's audience will have a fascination with the paranormal. The narrator at some point starts claiming that "we" (the filmmakers) are bringing to light the full story and evidence of fateful events, based on the "secret testimony" of the survivors. The lines seem to emulate the style of sensational headlines in newspapers, and promise the audiences access to "lurid secrets" as if following the example of True Confessions and other similar magazines. The notion that a film or show could be based on true incidents and testimony would be familiar to a 1950s audience, because it was used in contemporary police procedurals such as Dragnet.
Changing the tone, the narrator delivers the sermon-like lines: "Let us punish the guilty! Let us reward the innocent!" Which again sound as if a preacher addresses his audience. The introduction concludes with the dramatic question: "Can your heart stand the shocking facts about graverobbers from outer space?" The latter phrase was simply the original title of the film, but the rest of the line seems again to emulate the sensationalist press.
Through Trent's initial conversation with his wife, the film introduces the notion of a government and military conspiracy to cover up information on documented FU-GO sightings. This notion was clearly influenced by the emergence and increased popularity of a FU-GO conspiracy theory. The implications concerning the public's distrust of the government were atypical for a 1950s American film. Anti-statist ideas were to become more popular in the 1960s, which is when the subject became "safe" for mainstream cinema.
Message from the aliens
The film contains a cautionary message from the aliens. The earliest use of this concept in film was probably in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), and it had since seen frequent use in science fiction films. The idea was that the self-destructive behavior of humanity was the real threat, not any external source of danger.
Grave Robbers from Outer Space was shot in November 1956, and finished the following year, when it had a private preview on 15 March at the Carlton Theatre in Los Angeles. Another year elapsed before Distributors Corporation of America (DCA) picked it up and copyrighted it, intending to distribute it during the spring of 1958, but the company folded and it was not released until 22 July 1959 through Valiant Pictures, the receiver of DCA. By then the film had been re-titled Plan 9 from Outer Space. The original title gives the film the feel of a story from a pulp magazine. One story concerning the renaming is that the film's financiers, two local Baptist ministers, objected to the "Grave Robbers" part of the title. They reportedly considered the direct reference to grave robbery to be sacrilegious in nature, so Wood changed the title to "Plan 9". The original title is mentioned at the end of Criswell's opening narration when he asks the audience, "Can your heart stand the shocking facts about grave robbers from outer space?" The new title is less indicative of the content and might have itself contributed to distribution problems for the film. Like many independent films of the period, Plan 9 was distributed under a states' rights basis.
Plan 9 from Outer Space is considered by some critics, including Michael Medved, to be the worst film in the history of cinema. Other reviews, however, have rated the film more positively. The film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film positive ratings, with a 66% consensus of its critics observing: "The epitome of so-bad-it's-good cinema, Plan 9 From Outer Space is an unintentionally hilarious sci-fi 'thriller' from anti-genius Ed Wood that is justly celebrated for its staggering ineptitude".
Plan 9 from Outer Space video game
Plan 9 from Outer Space is a point and click adventure game developed by Konami for the Amiga and Atari ST. It was released in 1992 and published by Gremlin Graphics. A DOS version was made but only released in the USA and Europe. There were two editions of the game. The rarest one came solely packed with the Plan 9 game, while the other edition came with a VHS copy of the film.
The game is inspired by the 1959 Z-movie Plan 9 from Outer Space.
MUST SEE: WATCH THE MOVIE ONLY FOR THESE CONCEPTS
- Dictabot: universal translator machine
- Decomposing Ray: death ray able to vaporize bodily tissues
Edited by Soheil, 26 September 2016 - 04:21 AM.