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Plan 9 from Outer Space (originally titled Grave Robbers from Outer Space) is a 1956 American science fiction thriller film written and directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr. which premiered in 1957 and was released in 1959. The film features Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson and Maila "Vampira" Nurmi. The film bills Bela Lugosi posthumously as a star, although silent footage of the actor had been shot by Wood for other, unfinished projects just before Lugosi's death in 1956.
The plot of the film involves extraterrestrial beings who are seeking to stop humans from creating a doomsday weapon that would destroy the universe. In the course of doing so, the aliens implement "Plan 9", a scheme to resurrect Earth's dead as what modern audiences would consider zombies (called "ghouls" in the film itself) to get the planet's attention, causing chaos.
For years the film played on television in relative obscurity, until 1980, when authors Michael Medved and Harry Medved dubbed Plan 9 from Outer Space the "worst movie ever made". Wood was posthumously awarded the Medveds' Golden Turkey Award as the worst director ever.
In San Fernando, California, two gravediggers are filling the grave of the young wife of an unnamed old man. Hearing a strange noise, they decide to leave the cemetery but are attacked and killed by the resurrected corpse of the young woman. Meanwhile, in the skies nearby, a pilot named Jeff Trent and his co-pilot Danny encounter a flying saucer.
Absorbed in his grief over his wife's death, the old man walks into the path of an oncoming automobile. At his funeral, mourners discover the bodies of the gravediggers. Inspector Daniel Clay and other police officers come to the cemetery to investigate. While searching the graveyard, Clay encounters the female zombie, now joined by the reanimated corpse of the old man, and is killed.
Jeff Trent is watching the cemetery with his wife, Paula, and tells her about his flying saucer encounter, stating that the Army has sworn him to secrecy. He suspects the events at the cemetery are related to his encounter with the UFO. A powerful wind knocks everyone to the ground, and a spaceship lands nearby.
In the weeks that follow, newspaper headlines report other flying saucer sightings. The military, under the command of Col. Thomas Edwards, Chief of Saucer Operations, attacks the alien spaceships, which flee Earth. Edwards reveals that the government has been covering up the flying saucers, and wonders if the aliens are connected to other disasters on Earth.
The aliens return to Space Station 7 for regeneration. Their commander, Eros, informs their ruler that he has attempted, unsuccessfully, to contact the governments of Earth. He says that to force the people of Earth to acknowledge his people's existence, he is implementing Plan 9, which involves resurrecting the recently dead by stimulating their pituitary and pineal glands. The three alien ships return to Earth.
Trent is about to leave home for another flight. Concerned for Paula's safety, he urges her to stay with her mother while he's gone, but she insists on staying home. That night, the corpse of the old man rises from his crypt and sneaks into their house. Joined by the corpse of his wife and the newly resurrected Daniel Clay, he chases Paula through the cemetery. Paula collapses and is found by a passing motorist. All three zombies return to Eros's ship, which lifts off.
At the Pentagon, Gen. Roberts informs Edwards that the government has been receiving messages from the aliens. Roberts plays the last message, which has been translated into English by a recently invented "language computer". The general sends Edwards to San Fernando, California, where most of the aliens' activities have occurred.
In California, the police interview the Trents about their experiences with the aliens. Unbeknownst to them, the alien saucer has returned to the graveyard. While waiting by the police car, Officer Kelton encounters the old man. The old man chases the officer to the Trents' yard, where they shoot him, with no effect. The nearby aliens strike the old man with a ray, causing his body to decompose, leaving only his skeleton. Not knowing what to make of this, the Trents and the police decide to drive to the cemetery.
Eros and fellow alien Tanna send Clay to kidnap Paula in order to lure the other three to their spaceship. Meanwhile, seeing a glow in the distance, Trent and the police head toward the ship. Kelton stays with Paula, but is incapacitated by Clay. Upon awakening, he calls for help, and Officer Larry comes to aid him.
Eros allows Trent and the police to enter, and they board with guns drawn. Eros tells them that human weapons development will inevitably lead to the discovery of solarbonite, a substance that has the effect of exploding "sunlight molecules". A solarbonite explosion would set off a chain reaction that would destroy the entire universe. Eros believes humans are too immature to not use this power, and intends to destroy mankind to prevent this.
Outside the ship, Clay arrives with Paula. Eros threatens to have her killed if they try to force him to go with them. Officers Kelton and Larry arrive and spot Clay with Paula. Realizing their guns are useless, they approach Clay from behind with a stick. Eros sees this and shuts off the ray controlling Clay, allowing Paula to go free. A fight ensues between Eros and Jeff, during which the ship's delicate equipment is damaged, setting off a fire. The humans flee the ship, and Tanna flies it into the atmosphere. The flaming ship explodes with both aliens. As a consequence of the explosion, Clay and the female zombie are decomposed in the same manner as the old man.