I've heard several times about Ed Wood and how bad the movies he made are. I saw a little bit of Plan 9 From Outer Space on television once. I wasn't impressed, but I decided to watch the entire movie when I had the chance.
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During a flight, airline pilot Jeff Trent and his copilot Danny see a flying saucer. At the same time, an old man is burying his wife. Two grave diggers are filling in the grave when they hear something strange and then they are attacked by a dead woman who has been brought back to life. Soon after the funeral, the old man is killed in an accident. After his funeral, the bodies of the grave diggers are found. A police officer, Inspector Clay, starts looking around and he finds the female zombie along with the old man, who has also turned into a zombie.
Trent and his wife Paula are at their home, which is just right by the cemetery, and he tells her about the UFO he saw during the flight. They have noticed some weird things at the cemetery, and he thinks the UFO is responsible. It turns out that the aliens have tried to make contact only to be ignored, so they put plan nine, which involves bringing corpses back to life, into action.
I think the plot for Plan 9 From Outer Space had some potential to make a more interesting movie. Aliens arriving on the planet isn't that new of an idea, but it was slightly more original when the movie was made. Moving involving aliens can be good when they are done well. This one really wasn't done that well, though it isn't as bad as I had expected based on what I've heard about it over the years. The explanation for why the aliens came to Earth does have some potential, but that ultimately goes nowhere and the plot ends up being rather thin.
There really isn't much action in Plan 9 From Outer Space. The pace of the movie is slow and several scenes seem to drag on entirely too long. Only a few aliens are even shown, and the ones shown really don't do much other than stand around and talk. The zombies or whatever they are don't do much other than slowly shuffle around with weird expressions on their faces while holding their arms in strange positions. Most of the time, the old man was holding a cape up, hiding most of his face. The zombies, especially the woman, kill people, but nothing with that is really shown. There really isn't any violence to what is going on, though there is a fight later in the movie that doesn't amount to much. What dialogue there is in the movie is mostly cheesy, with some lines even contradicting other things.
When a movie is about aliens, I expect there to be special effects of some kind. Plan 9 From Outer Space was made in the late 1950s which does limit what could be done for the effects. Even taking that into consideration, the effects are horribly bad. The spaceships are downright goofy looking and in most of the scenes, the wires can be seen. The sets and backgrounds look very cheesy and fake. More than once a character is shown in the graveyard at night, only to have it look like daytime when they leave the cemetery immediately. The lousy effects end up making scenes funny that weren't intended to be funny.
None of the characters in Plan 9 From Outer Space are that interesting and they are all very flat. Some of them aren't even given real names. The old man and his wife are only identified in the credits as Vampire Girl and Ghoul Man. Neither of them do much, though Vampire Girl is shown the most, trying to look scary and instead just looking silly. There is nothing good about Vampira's acting.
Ghoul Man does very little in the movie. Bela Lugosi is credited for the part, but he is only actually in a few short scenes. The footage was even originally intended for a different movie and then Lugosi died. Wood then came up with a new idea for a movie and hired a stand in for Lugosi that looks nothing like him and used the previously shot footage. The stand in, Tom Mason, was actually a chiropractor. At one point, when the Ghoul Man is supposed to be going after some people, the cape starts to slip, so Mason stops to readjust it and then continues on. The scene isn't scary to begin with and that just makes it ridiculous. Even though his face is always mostly hidden behind the cape, it is still very clear that he isn't Lugosi.
Jeff is an airline pilot who first sees a spaceship during one of his flights. He isn't happy about the military and government keeping everything quiet. That's about all that is shared about him even though he turns up in many scenes throughout the movie. Gregory Walcott isn't anything special in the part. Jeff's wife Paula turns up in a few scenes. She is mostly just there to end up in danger and she really doesn't add anything to what is going on. Mona McKinnon doesn't have much to do. Inspector Clay spends most of the movie as a zombie that doesn't talk. He just lumbers around trying to look menacing, so Tor Johnson doesn't have much to do either.
Only a few of the aliens are shown and none of them really do much of anything during the movie. They just stand around and talk a lot without really saying that much. The aliens had previously failed in eight attempts, though no details about the failed attempts are shared. If they were anything like the ninth plan, it's no wonder they failed. These aliens aren't that bright, so I do have to wonder how they managed to find their way through the galaxy to Earth without flying into a black hole or the sun or something instead. I think these have to be the dumbest aliens ever. None of them are that interesting. Criswell, someone who claimed to be able to predict the future, turns up in a short bit at the very beginning of the movie babbling about the future. Every so often during the movie, he provides a narration.
Criswell - Himself
Tor Johnson - Inspector Clay
Bela Lugosi - Ghoul Man
Mona McKinnon - Paula
Tom Mason - Stand in for Lugosi
Vampira - Vampire Girl
Gregory Walcott - Jeff
Edward D. Wood Jr. - Director
Plan 9 From Outer Space turns up on television every so often. The movie was originally made in black and white. At some point, it was colorized. From what I have read, there have been different DVD versions released.
Plan 9 From Outer Space has all sorts of issues, but it really isn't as bad as I expected it to be. It is oddly entertaining at times, though mostly because of how bad certain things, like the effects, are. I can't really recommend the movie since it isn't that great, but I have seen much worse.
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