Director: Edward D. Wood Jr.
Writer: Edward D. Wood Jr.
Cast: Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Duke Moore, Tom Keene, Carl Anthony, Paul Marco, Tor Johnson, Dudley Manlove, Joanna Lee, John Breckinridge, Lyle Talbot, David De Mering, Norma McCarty, Bill Ash, Reverend Lynn Lemon, Ben Frommer, Gloria Dea, Conrad Brooks, Vampira, Bela Lugosi, and Criswell
Composer: Gordon Zahler
Release Date: 7/22/1959
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
While investigating the deaths of two gravediggers, Inspector Clay (Tor Johnson) is killed by the resurrected bodies of an old man (Bela Lugosi) and his wife (Vampira). Thereafter, space soldiers Eros (Dudley Manlove) and Tanna (Joanna Lee)—now in control of Clay and the other zombies—reveal their intention to prevent mankind from developing the Solaranite bomb, which, by exploding sunlight molecules, could potentially destroy the entire universe.
Marred by wooden performances, slipshod editing, and arguably the worst production values of all time, Plan 9 from Outer Space deserves its reputation as the quintessential Z-grade science fiction movie. Also deserving of mention is that horror icon Bela Lugosi (Dracula and The White Zombie) makes his final onscreen appearance in this offering, adding a hint of poignancy to an otherwise dreadful motion picture.
During the cemetery sequences, a variety of spooky tropes (e.g. barren trees, crooked grave markers, and layers of fog spread ominously over the tombs of the deceased) establish a haunting atmosphere that, having been accentuated by a ghoulish cast of characters (i.e. Vampira, Tor Johnson, and Bela Lugosi), will appeal to fans of the gothic horror genre. (The fact that several tombstones wobble and collapse when disturbed does, however, severely hamper the realism of the graveyard scenes.)
Nearly every aspect of Ed Wood’s direction deserves criticism for failing to convey the epic, terrifying scale of an alien invasion scenario. Specifically worth noting are the visible strings that hold in place a trio of flying saucers, which, in addition to being cheaply made, lack the swift and stable motion that one would expect of an interstellar space vehicle (e.g. the Jupiter 2 from Lost in Space, the C-57D from Forbidden Planet, and the Enterprise from Star Trek). (That being said, B movie buffs will likely perceive the many technical, narrative, and budgetary shortcomings of Plan 9 from Outer Space in a positive or humorous light.)
Despite traveling to Earth for ostensibly benevolent and cautionary purposes, the aliens in Plan 9 from Outer Space waste no time in kidnapping, reanimating, and manipulating the corpses of recently dead humans—a morbid twist on the premise for The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Plan 9 from Outer Space is an entertaining, albeit poorly written and directed, effort from Wood—also known for Glen or Glenda and Bride of the Monster. For zombie enthusiasts, alien invasion buffs, and fans of the sci-fi/horror crossover genre, this Golden Turkey winner will not disappoint.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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