Public Domain Movie: Plan 9 from Outer Space (1958)

Plan 9 from Outer Space – Movie Review

The science fiction/horror movie Plan 9 from Outer Space was released in 1958. To this day, many people say it’s the worst movie ever made.

The story is set in San Fernando, California, and begins with the burial of an old man’s wife. After the mourners have departed the gravediggers get to work, but before they can head on home for the day they are killed by the resurrected corpse of the old man’s wife, who has been reanimated by aliens who plan to use her to further their plans for world domination.

The zombie-wife is played by Vampira, who does little more than drift out from behind the gravestones from time to time and show off her nails. Bela Lugosi plays the old man, who also dies, becomes a zombie that behaves like a vampire, and prowls around with his cape over his face in a Dracula-like fashion.

There’s a good reason for this overuse of the cape. The scenes that feature Lugosi were originally intended for another movie, called Tomb of the Vampire. Lugosi died after only having completed a few scenes and the movie was never finished. Two years later the scenes were worked into Plan 9 from Outer Space and a few extra ‘old man’ sequences were shot using a “lookalike” who looked nothing like Lugosi, was much younger than him, and quite a bit taller too. The cape was intended to make the substitute less obvious.

Plan 9 from Outer Space (Movie Poster)
Plan 9 from Outer Space Movie Poster

The poor choice of stand-in is only one of the many problems with Plan 9 from Outer Space. In at least one scene the string that the flying saucer is dangling from is clearly visible. The pilot’s cockpit of the plane, featured in a couple of scenes, is pretty poor too. It’s the most unrealistic cockpit I’ve ever seen. Watch the movie and I’m sure you will agree.

The flight controls in the cockpit are nothing more than semicircular pieces of wood and the scenes could almost have been shot inside a shed, with a curtain for a backdrop. The graveyard scenes are very bad too. It is easy to see that the gravestones are just props and they could do with being propped up because they wobble whenever anybody brushes past them.

There is a third zombie in the movie and, if you are a fan of old horror films, you  recognize him. It’s the ex-wrestler Tor Johnson, who played the beast in The Beast of Yucca Flats. If there was a competition for best zombie in Plan 9 from Outer Space, Tor would win it. He’s is the only zombie in the movie that doesn’t look like a vampire wannabe.

All in all, Plan 9 from Outer Space is a sad effort and the fact that the script is so poor does not help. Believe it or not though, there are people who love this movie. I am not one of them, but it’s a movie that’s so famous for being so bad that I had to see it for myself.

If you want to see it as well you can watch it online by using the player at the top of this page. However, Plan 9 from Outer Space is in and out of the public domain like a yo-yo. So if the player does not work there is a good chance that Plan 9 is no longer in the public domain—for a while anyway.

Additional Information

Director: Edward D. Wood Jr.


Bela Lugosi … Ghoul in Vampire Cape
Vampira … Female Vampire
Gregory Walcott … Jeff Trent
Mona McKinnon … Paula Trent
Duke Moore … Lieutenant Harper
Tom Keene … Colonel Edwards
Carl Anthony … Patrolman Larry
Paul Marco … Patrolman Kelton
Tor Johnson … Inspector Clay
Dudley Manlove … Eros
Joanna Lee … Tanna
John Breckinridge … Ruler
Lyle Talbot … General Roberts
David De Mering … Danny
Norma McCarty … Edith
Bill Ash … Captain
Lynn Lemon … Reverend

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