the Movie Club Annals ...

  
 

Plan 9 From Outer Space

 
 

Rating: + or - Plan 9 Poseidons

  

                  

 
 

Reviewed by Carl R.

 

 

Release Date: 1959 
Directed by: Ed Wood

 
 

Plot Synopsis

 

An alien race from another planet is concerned that the Earthling population is dangerously close to inventing a potentially universe-ending weapon called the Solarmonite bomb. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to peacefully resolve the matter with the Earthlings, the aliens decide to use Plan 9, which entails raising dead Earthlings from their graves in order to scare the living Earthlings into submission. 

    

  

Story Line

   
Following a brief foretelling introduction by actor/predictor Criswell, the opening scenes of Plan 9 From Outer Space take place in a graveyard, where an elderly man (played by Bela Lugosi, and referred to by the film’s narrator only as “the old man”), is attending a graveside burial service for his young wife (played by Vampira). At this same time, the flight crew of a passing commercial airliner sees a flying saucer hovering nearby.  The flying saucer suddenly disappears from the view of the flight crew, and is next seen landing in the graveyard where Vampira's burial service has just concluded. 
   
 

 Vampira

 
  
The sound of the flying saucer alarms the two gravediggers who'd just finished burying Vampira, so they finish patting down the dirt on her grave and decide to leave the graveyard. However, just as the two gravediggers start on their departure, they encounter Vampira emerging from behind her still-living husband's crypt, having risen from the grave she was just buried in. Vampira reaches out toward the two frightened gravediggers, whose off-camera screams imply that their encounter with her has left them dead. 
 
Next, the old man (Lugosi) is shown emerging from his house. Distraught over the recent death of his wife (Vampira), he decides to go for an afternoon walk, but is killed almost immediately by a passing car.  The scene then changes back to the graveyard, where a group of mourners is shown coming out of Lugosi’s crypt after the conclusion of his funeral service.  As the mourners are departing, they see the two gravediggers who buried Vampira lying dead on the ground. 
 
The police are called and a group of officers led by Detective Daniel Clay (played by Tor Johnson) arrive at the graveyard to investigate.  While Det. Clay goes deep into the graveyard by himself to investigate, another flying saucer lands in the graveyard.  Simultaneously, Vampira appears out of the darkness and actor Tom Mason emerges from Bela Lugoi's crypt (Lugosi died prior to completion of filming, so his ‘dead’ character, credited as “Ghoul Man”, is played alternatively by Lugosi and stand-in actor Tom Mason).  Caught between the recently-dead “Ghoul Man” (Mason) and Vampira, Det. Clay attempts to fend them off with his revolver, but his bullets have no effect and he is killed by the deceased couple.

 

 

Ghoul Man - Lugosi

Ghoul Man - Mason

 

 

 

Det. Clay and Vampira

 
 
Within minutes, the remaining police officers find Det. Clay's body, and the scene changes to a group of mourners attending Det. Clay's funeral, with Vampira watching in the distance.  At the same time, groups of flying saucers begin to appear in varying places across the U.S., alarming the general populace and triggering a massive deployment of armed forces. Colonel Tom Edwards, leader of the military deployment, decides to fire upon the flying saucers. While imposing no direct hits on the saucers, the Colonel's assault succeeds in driving them back into outer space. 
 
The aliens, primarily represented by a male character named Eros and his female associate Tanna, return to their mother ship to inform their leader (‘The Ruler’) that all attempts to communicate with the Earthlings have failed. Asked by The Ruler what they will do next, Eros reports that they will be using Plan 9.  Referring to a handbook on his desk, The Ruler muses aloud that Plan 9 entails "the resurrection of the dead ... long distance electrodes shot into the pineal pituitary glands of recent dead".   Asked by The Ruler if they've had any success with Plan 9, Eros reports that they've risen two from the dead so far, after which The Ruler dispatches Eros and Tanna back to Earth to continue their mission.   

  

 

 The Ruler, Tanna, and Eros

 
 
Meanwhile back on Earth, Jeff Trent, pilot of the passenger plane that earlier spotted the flying saucer hovering over the graveyard, is preparing to leave home to pilot another flight.  As he and his wife live near the graveyard where all the recent killings have taken place, he instructs his wife to lock herself in the house for the night, to which she signifies from inside the house that she has done.  Right after Jeff Trent drives away, Ghoul Man (Lugosi) lets himself in the side door and appears as Ghoul Man (Mason) in Mrs. Trent's bedroom.  Upon seeing Ghoul Man (Mason) in her bedroom, the frightened Mrs. Trent escapes out of the house and flees into the graveyard, with Ghoul Man (Lugosi) in pursuit and Vampira watching from the distance.  
 
As Mrs. Trent continues her escape through the graveyard, Det. Clay rises out of his grave.  Mrs. Trent manages to make her way back out of the graveyard, but then faints and crumples to the ground. With the deceased group of Vampira, Det. Clay, Ghoul Man (Lugosi), and Ghoul Man (Mason) closing in on her, Mrs. Trent is saved in the nick of time by a passing motorist who lifts her into his car and drives her to safety.  Mrs. Trent informs the police of the incident, and a group of officers is dispatched to the graveyard to investigate.  As the police are investigating Det. Clay's empty grave, Vampira, Clay, and Ghoul Man (Mason) board a nearby flying saucer, which is piloted by Eros and Tanna and bound for the alien's mother ship in outer space.  

 

Back on an unspecified military base, a top General, who officially denies the existence of flying saucers, meets with Col. Edwards to discuss how to rid the Earth of the flying saucers.  The two officers review an audio message transmitted earlier by Eros, who explains the predicament which has brought the aliens to Earth; that the Earthlings are getting too close to inventing the Solarmonite bomb, and that they are too stupid to be trusted with such a powerful weapon.  Eros gives the Earthlings a final warning; that they must meet and cooperate with the aliens or be destroyed. Upon reviewing the message from Eros, the General dispatches Col. Edwards on a mission to "find out what in the hell (the aliens) want."
 
  

 

  Alien Saucers

 
 
In the meantime, Eros has arrived back on the alien’s mother ship to present his three risen-dead Earthling passengers to The Ruler. The Ruler inspects "the big one" (Det. Clay) and acknowledges limited success with Plan 9.  But he then chastises Eros for having been seen by the Earthlings, and informs him that he must continue his mission with only a single ship.  Prior to dispatching Eros back to Earth, The Ruler decides that "the old one" (Ghoul Man – Lugosi/Mason) must be sacrificed. This sacrifice would be accomplished by sending Ghoul Man into an Earthling's dwelling, cutting the electrokinetic, and turning on the ship's decomposure ray. Per The Ruler, the resulting effect would "astound" the Earthlings and delay their hostilities long enough to allow the aliens to raise sufficiently large numbers of the dead. The risen-dead Earthlings would then be sent to march upon the capitols of the Earth, forcing the living Earthlings to acknowledge both the existence and superior power of the aliens. 
  

Back on Earth, a detective (Lt. John Harper) and Col. Edwards arrive at the Trent's house to question the couple about their recent experiences with flying saucers and risen-dead people.  During this questioning session, Eros lands his flying saucer and cargo of risen-dead passengers in the nearby graveyard.  Ghoul Man (Mason) emerges from the saucer and starts toward the Trent's house as Ghoul Man (Lugosi).  Ghoul Man (Mason) arrives on the Trent's patio and closes in on Trent and company, but when he is only inches away from the group, the aliens fire their decomposure ray, causing Ghoul Man (Mason) to turn into a skeleton.   

   

Soon after witnessing the decomposure of Ghoul Man (Mason), Jeff Trent and company drive a patrol car to the graveyard to investigate.  Trent, Col. Edwards, and Lt. Harper proceed deeper into the graveyard while Mrs. Trent stays behind in the patrol car, guarded by a uniformed officer.  With Vampira and Det. Clay wandering the graveyard, Eros plots to lure the entire Trent party aboard his flying saucer in order to kill them so they won't tell any other Earthlings of the alien’s existence. In short order, Trent, Col. Edwards, and Lt. Harper arrive at the flying saucer, going aboard when Eros orders the door opened for them.  Eros has also sent "the big one" (Clay) to capture Mrs. Trent and bring her back to the saucer, and Clay soon returns with her, having snatched her from the patrol car after temporarily disabling her uniformed guardian.  

        

 

Col. Edwards, Lt. Harper, Mrs. & Mr. Trent, Two Uniformed Officers

 
 
Once on the flying saucer, the three Earthlings (Trent, Edwards, and Harper) attempt to arrest Eros, but Eros foils them by turning on the televisor and showing them that Det. Clay is holding Mrs. Trent hostage outside the ship.  Eros then explains that the aliens have come to Earth with good intentions, to peacefully stop the intellectually inferior Earthlings from developing the Solarmonite bomb. After several minutes of being berated by Eros, Trent takes offense and smacks Eros across the face.  Eros gathers himself and continues on his tirade, staving off further violence from the three Earthlings by again showing them that Det. Clay is holding Mrs. Trent hostage outside the ship. 
 
Another patrol car then pulls into the graveyard to assist the officer who was assaulted by Det. Clay when Clay kidnapped Mrs. Trent.  Once the distressed officer regains his composure, the two uniformed officers enter deep into the graveyard to investigate.  They soon happen upon Det. Clay holding Mrs. Trent, and one of the officers hits Clay in the head with a billy club while the other rescues Mrs. Trent.  All inside the flying saucer see Clay hit the ground, which emboldens the three Earthlings inside to start fighting with Eros and Tanna.  The ruckus from the fighting causes the flying saucer’s equipment to catch on fire, but the Earthlings manage to get the saucer door open and escape into the graveyard. Eros and Tanna then lift off in their flaming flying saucer, during which time the Earthlings find Det. Clay ‘decomposed’ on the ground.  The Earthlings, noting that Vampira is still unaccounted for, suppose aloud that she has been decomposed just as Det. Clay has. Then, looking toward the sky, the Earthlings see the flaming flying saucer exploding in mid-air with Eros and Tanna on board. 
 
 

CR