Plan 9 from Outer Space

Plan 9 fan art

Plan 9, as it is commonly referred to among fans, is almost universally recognized as one of the best of the worst! Similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Plan 9 enjoys a rabid cult following which includes frequent screenings, reenactments, as well as audience participation segments where people shout out “BELA” or “NOT BELA” whenever Bela Lugosi or his post-mortem stand-in is on screen and where participants are throwing paper plates or aluminum pie pans in the air whenever the “UFO's” make an appearance. Regardless of your level of devotion, Plan 9 from Outer Space deserves a place of honor in The Locker.

 

Plan 9 from Outer Space stars Gregory Walcott as Captain Trent, Mona McKinnon as his wife, Paula, as well as a host of others including Vampira and Tor Johnson.. and almost starring Bela Lugosi. Aliens have come to Earth to convince the human race not to develop a super weapon. Their grand plan (Plan 9, as it turns out) is to reanimate the recent dead to carry out their scheme. Part of the plan involves “buzzing” airplanes, as well as various California locales, with their spacecrafts.

 

You can watch Plan 9 in all its glory

here on Youtube.

 

You'd think the dude who carves headstones would invest in a level or something.  Hell, I could "eyeball" it better than that!  

Seriously!  I'm Bella!  WHY DOES NOBODY BELIEVE ME?!?!

As with Robot Monster, not much can be said here that has not been said before. Whereas my heroes at MST3K never took on Plan 9 on the small screen, the Rifftrax Crew have feasted upon it, much to my enjoyment! There is much trivia available regarding this movie. Most surprising to me when I first developed an interest was that the film was funded by a Baptist church. The film was originally to be called “Grave Robbers from Outer Space” but was changed at the behest of the church. Poor Bela Lugosi, who died after a mere 4 days of filming, was replaced by Ed Wood Jr's wife's chiropractor. Ed Wood, but not necessarily everyone else, went on to consider “Plan 9” to be his magnum opus. Most notable of its detractors was one of the central characters, Gregory Walcott, who proclaimed that it was the worst script that he had ever read, but that didn't seem to stop him from signing on. There is a lot of “lore” associated with this film and it is interesting to read about.

So, the first thing we are exposed to is Criswell....the narrator! He was reminiscent of one of those “drinking birds” that bobs up and down drinking from the glass of water because he bobs back and forth as he speaks. It is QUITE distracting. His haltering monologue is distractingly “Shatner-esque!” I've seen the movie a couple of dozen times and I still can't recall a thing he says! We then go to what is supposed to be an airplane cockpit that is glaringly obviously made of cardboard. There is a shower curtain where the door should be, no instrument panels anywhere, and a “yolk” that is clearly cut out of a piece of plywood. There is a clipboard nailed to the back wall, so, I guess that makes it officially “a cockpit.” This really sets the tone for the movie. We go from there to graveyard to spaceships and the quality gets no better. When the bodies of two cemetery workers are found, the quick shot of their bodies reveals that they have been turned into horribly-mangled and blood spattered mannequins. There is also a prop... a flashing warning light like you would see on a construction barrel on the side of the road.. which makes an appearance a couple of times. There is also, what appears to be, a large fishing bobble, actually TAPED to it on the Ruler's desk. The Ruler is wearing some outfit that was left over from a Medieval movie wardrobe and the other two aliens got their uniforms from a fire sale at a bad disco. The spaceships are pretty cheaply made and are clearly suspended by string, which is visible several times, and the mother ship looks like a big, floating, space-tit!   

Yes, my little one, come suckle and replenish yourself at the mothership.

The acting was fairly horrific as well and stands as a hallmark which is classic to the genre and to Ed Wood's movies in particular: a bulwark to all that bespeaks “quality!” What can be said of Tor Johnson's performance? Only that it was classic Tor Johnson. If you have seen Bride of the Monster or The Beast of Yucca Flats, you get the picture. Criswell looks like he's jumped up on IV caffeine. Walcott initially seems like he's overdosed on antidepressants and sedatives. Of course, if I were responsible for a plane full of people with only a cardboard cockpit, a plywood steering wheel , and a clipboard, I'd be depressed too. McKinnon faints whenever there is a scene change and Vampira just stands there showing us her nails and her entirely unhealthy-looking 4 inch waist. While we are here, lets examine this Vampira/Lugosi family dynamic. Vampira was 35 when she made this film and Lugosi was 76. Are we to believe that she was his wife? Damn, you GO Lugosi! The police detective uses his service gun like a laser pointer and the rest of the police are goofy, bumbling, and highly ineffectual. However, my favorite performance is by John Breckinridge. He plays “the Ruler” of the giant space-tit. Think of a cross between a frustrated Shakespearean actor, Dr. Smith from Lost in Space, and some bitchy old drag queen! I absolutely loved it! He pulls off being interested, yet completely dismissive, sprinkled with a dash of utter disdain, all at the same time with a style that reminds me of Quentin Crisp judging Dancing with the Stars!. It amused me to no end.   

Bob, could you take over the fake controls.  The drugs are kicking in and I need a nap.

Some plot oddities rear their head due to the replacement of Lugosi. The character Lugosi was supposed to portray is highly ineffectual since he had to wander about with one arm covering his face with his cape. There is one scene where Lugosi wanders up to a house and inside is Paula in the bed about to go to sleep. The phone rings. She finishes her call and then the “Faux-Bella” walks in, cape covering his face. She slides off the bed and runs out screaming, RIGHT past him. Faux-Bella just turns and walks out after her. Jeez, what a crappy villain! Least he could have done was stick out a foot and trip her on her way out. This scene just SEEMS like something else should have happened here but didn't.   

I can only ASPIRE to this level of smug snarkiness that this look OOZES!

Seriously, you guys....I'm BELLA!!

Worst.. cops.. EVER!  First, Detective Deathwish needs to stop flossing with his weapon and the other two cops need to be dropping some atomic hints!

Be that as it may, Plan 9 from Outer Space secures its legacy in cinematic history through its enigmatic and somewhat infamous director, its bizarre history, its hodge-podge cast of characters,its highly innovative and somewhat peculiar acting styles, and its creative use of cardboard sets and crap Ed Wood horked from the side of the road.   

Fan art by Quartznaut

Get off me, you dink!  Do you even KNOW how to drive a stick??

All I can say is ... "Criswell"

Behold, The spokeswoman for Lee Press-on Claws!

.....and yes, this is the limit of his acting range!

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