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With nothing but a rough idea for a horror film, director Edward D. Wood Jr. raised money, borrowed Bela Lugosi for a few days and shot footage in and around a cemetery and the front of Tor Johnson's house. Lugosi died unexpectedly after four days of shooting. Wood wrote a script around this footage, calling it Grave Robbers from Outer Space and obtained financing from a Baptist Church. With Dr. Tom Mason doubling for Lugosi in the rest of the film, Wood shot most of the footage, including the graveyard scenes, at Quality Studios.

Wood arranged to have uniforms and props borrowed from the local Police Department. He recalled that his own salary was minimal ($350), and that considering the limitations of the budget, Tommy Kemp, who handled the special effects for the film, did an acceptable job, using hub caps as space ships. When the film premiered in Hollywood in 1959 under the title, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Lugosi's widow Hope Lininger, together with Tor Johnson, appeared on stage in place of her dead husband.

Vampira & Johnson Lugosi was convincing as an elderly man mourning his dead wife before an open grave. The scens of Lugosi stalking a cemetery in his Dracula costume as a corpse raised from the dead are deeply moving, especially as it was his last role. Gregory Walcott, the lead, was a regular on the defunct TV series 87th Precinct. Finnish-born Maila Nurmi recreated her Vampira role--a characterization she made famous as a Los Angeles TV horror show hostess--as Lugosi's wife. She played other minor roles, including an old hag in The Magic Sword in 1962, but she is remembered chiefly today for Plan 9.

Resembling other science-fiction films films of the '50s, like Unidentified Flying Objects (1956) and Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956), its attempts to merge the genre with the early horror formula were nearly defeated by the crude, low-budget production. With its incoherent plot, jaw-droppingly odd dialogue, inept acting, threadbare production design, and special effects so shoddy that they border on the surreal, Plan 9 From Outer Space has often been called the worst movie ever made. But it's an oddly endearing disaster; boasting genuine enthusiasm and undeniable charm, it is the work of people who loved movies and loved making them, even if they displayed little visible talent.

A semi-sequel to Plan 9 was made by Wood in 1958, featuring Plan 9 performers like Tor Johnson, Criswell and Vampira. It was called Night of the Ghouls, but was never released. Its legendary director Edward D. Wood Jr. was played by Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's 1994 biopic, Ed Wood.

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CastLyle Talbot, Béla Lugosi, Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, Tor Johnson, John Breckinridge
DirectorEdward D. Wood, Jr.
Genre:  Classics, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Release Date:  1959
MPAA Rating:  Unrated
Screen WriterEdward D. Wood, Jr.
Studio:  Legend
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More Plan 9 from Outer Space reviews
review by . September 04, 2011
Flying saucers are spotted over Los Angeles and some recently-buried folks have risen from their graves to frighten the locals. Terror ensues!      Not really, of course. This film has consistently been voted "Worst Movie Ever Made" and really is horrendous. It looks like a sci-fi film your sixth-grader wrote and filmed over a weekend. Director Ed Wood was never daunted by a lack of talent or money, he just loved making movies; this one would be fun for a Halloween …
review by . January 06, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: It's bad!     Cons: It will never be seen by holier-than-thou film students     The Bottom Line: The original so good it's bad movie!     Let me tell you why I hate the common film student perception of movies being art. I hate it because it lends way too much technical weight to a medium which is used by the vast majority of the public strictly as a means of escape. A stereotypical film student will rave about how brilliant some …
review by . February 20, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is often considered to be both Ed Wood's best film and "the worst movie of all time". Do you see the illogic there? How can it be Wood's "best film", yet the "worst movie of all time"? It really isn't. Wood made lots of films that were ten times as worse than PLAN 9 and there are a lot of movies being churned out in theatres today that are just awful. If nothing else, PLAN 9 is amusing and at least has a story, convoluted as it is. Besides, it was the last film Bela Lugosi …
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