Plan 9 From Outer Space: 30 Years Later #1
September 9, 2013
Future events such as these will affect us... in 1991.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. (looks up in thought) A comic book sequel to Plan 9 From Outer Space... Okay, you've got my attention.
(The title for the movie Plan 9 From Outer Space is shown)
Linkara (v/o): On the slim chance you've never heard of it, Plan 9 From Outer Space is a "classic" bad movie that many considered for years to be the worst movie ever made.
Linkara: And it's not, not by a long shot. It's got a ton of problems, to be certain, but it's still in the realm of "entertainingly bad". You know, like The Room or Birdemic. "So bad, it's good" kind of fare.
(The title for After Last Season is shown, followed by footage of that movie)
Linkara (v/o): Personally, I think the worst movie ever is After Last Season. At least in The Room, I know what the characters' names are. At least in Birdemic, the awful special effects are having an impact on the movie, instead of just being somebody's screensaver for an hour.
(Cut back to the credits for Plan 9, showing that Edward D. Wood, Jr., is the writer, producer and director)
Linkara (v/o): But back to Plan 9, which was created by famed bad movie director Ed Wood, Jr. He
(Cut then to the credits for Bride of the Monster (also directed by Wood), as watched by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang)
Linkara (v/o): He created Bride of the Monster, Glen or Glenda, The Sinister Urge, and a bunch of other horrible b-movies that are delightfully stupid.
(Footage of the movie Ed Wood is shown)
Linkara (v/o): And of course, everyone should go and see Tim Burton's Ed Wood film, even if it does take a lot of liberties with history.
(Bela Lugosi (played by Martin Landau) is seen walking through a pond, stepping past the tentacles of a prop octopus)
Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau): Goddamn, it's cold!
Ed Wood (Johnny Depp): It'll warm up once you're in it.
Lugosi: Fuck you! You come out here!
(Cut back to Plan 9)
Linkara (v/o): The point is that Plan 9 has earned its cult status and can be a lot of fun to watch. RiffTrax has taken it on more than once and has done a great job with it.
Linkara: And personally, I think the premise is actually fairly decent and awesomely insane: aliens resurrect the dead in order to take over the world! Aliens, zombies, and world domination! (gives a double thumbs-up) Awesome!
Linkara (v/o): So, like I said, that's the general plot, but it also features an airplane pilot who spotted a cigar-shaped saucer, Not Bela Lugosi going around a cheap set, a detective who likes to scratch himself with his loaded gun, and the aliens calling humans stupid because we're going to invent an element called solarmanite or something. It really is the kind of movie you have to see to believe because of how cheap it is. Plus, we have Criswell at the beginning and end enthusiastically informing us about how this is all the future.
Linkara: Still a better future than "SCI-Spy".
Linkara (v/o): Hell, the stories about the making of the movie are just as interesting as the movie itself, like how it was financed by two Baptist ministers who had the entire cast baptized, that the guy doubling for Bela Lugosi was the chiropractor for his wife, it's just incredible. And that brings us to today's comic, made in 1991 by Eternity Comics.
(Cut to a shot of a comic called "Plan 9 From Outer Space Strikes Again")
Linkara (v/o): This wasn't the only sequel comic, as it happens. In 2006, Bluewater Productions created "Plan 9 From Outer Space Strikes Again", which is supposed to take place fifty years after the initial alien attack. And unfortunately, there isn't a lot of information on why they just suddenly decided to make it.
(Cut to the inside of the cover of the first issue)
Linkara (v/o): That being said, the title page for the first issue here has a little bit written by Tom Mason, the creative director for Eternity Comics, explaining that they had just done an adaptation of Plan 9 in comic form, and that was popular enough to inspire them to create the sequel.
(Cut to more footage of Plan 9)
Linkara (v/o): It helps that Plan 9 has fallen into the public domain, so you can get a copy from Archive.org and don't have to worry about a license. But it still makes me very curious about this sequel concept: do you play it tongue-in-cheek, or do you treat it seriously? Can you strike the same kind of balance of entertaining and awful that the original did by accident if you're doing it intentionally?
Linkara: Well, let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Plan 9 From Outer Space: 30 Years Later #1" and see what they did with it.
(AT4W title sequence plays. The title card has the opening title for Plan 9, "Grip of the Law", playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is okay, though it feels like an alternate cover and not the real one, since it depicts Tor Johnson, Bela Lugosi and Vampira on it, all of whom were reduced to skeletons onscreen – except for Vampira, but they suspected she had, too. Still, it has a great quality to it, in that it clearly identifies it as being part of the Plan 9 universe by having them front and center, and having an unconscious woman being carried around by Tor. Plus, laughably tiny tombstones there, with just "RIP" written on one.
Linkara: That's not short for "rest in peace", it's actually for Tor's brother, Rip.
Linkara (v/o): We open where the movie ended... sort of. At the end of the movie, the main characters escape the flying saucer and commented to each other that it was likely that they'll see other aliens some day. What the comic changes is that they're now leaving an actual saucer...
(Cut to a clip of the movie's ending)
Linkara (v/o): ...instead of that odd rectangular protrusion from the saucer that apparently doubled for the ship's door.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Since I've never read the comic adaptation, it's possible this fits in with their version of events, but I can't be certain.
Lt. John Harper: I wonder if that's the last we'll see of them?
Jeff Trent: Perhaps. But sooner or later, there will be others.
Linkara: (as Jeff) We'd better form the Men In Black to start dealing with these kind of things.
Jeff: There'll be others... I thought there would be, too... but that was a long time ago.
Linkara: Turns out the real estate industry for our planet died out years ago.
Linkara (v/o): By the way, I do like that the comic is in black and white. While I'm sure it's just because it's cheaper to print it that way for an independent comic, it helps the feeling of this being a Plan 9 story. Jeff, the pilot from the movie, is now an old man with an adult daughter, Diana. She thinks that he should go to the press with the story, especially since she's a reporter.
Jeff: Someday, I will. And you'll get the scoop, Diana.
Diana: I know. And I appreciate it-- although I'm not sure you could call a story about something that happened 30 years ago a scoop.
Linkara: (as Diana) I will call it a plow, though.
Linkara (v/o): I especially love how, since this takes place during the '80s, Diana is doing aerobics, and the artist also decided to draw all the closeup shots of her stretching and working out. Once again, it helps fit in with that exploitation, drive-in quality to the whole thing. Diana exposits that since it's been thirty years, whatever gag order that the Air Force put on him about the incident is gone.
Linkara: Because that's totally how classified information works, especially considering matters of national security.
Linkara (v/o): We also see a hand and a figure emerge from a grave.
Jeff: I know. But--maybe it's just not interesting to anybody any more. I mean, that was 30 years ago.
Linkara: (as Jeff) I mean, it was just an incident where aliens tried to take over the world using zombies. Who would care about that story?
Diana: People'll be interested. Trust me, Dad. I'm a reporter.
Linkara: (as Diana) Remember how I broke that story about those giant turtles that did karate or whatever? April O'Neil was so pissed at me 'cause I got that story.
Diana: And if I was any kind of reporter at all, I would've written that story the first week I went to the Sentinel.
Linkara: (as Diana) Hey, chief, my daddy says that aliens invaded thirty years ago and that nobody knew about it. This is totally a real story! (as chief, pretending to smoke a cigar) Uh-huh, whatever. Look, maybe if you add in that Spider-Man is working with the aliens, I'll print it, but otherwise... (waves dismissively)
Linkara (v/o): By the way, Diana seems to be really damn casual with her parents, since she also apparently changes her clothes in front of them. Jeff starts coming around on the idea and there's a knock on the door.
Diana: Great! I'd hug you, but my hand seems to be buried in this popcorn.
Linkara (v/o): The popcorn that's... in his lap...
Linkara: (looking uncomfortable) Well, now I know why she's so comfortable being naked around her parents.
Linkara (v/o): In all seriousness, I'm actually kind of confused by this action. Who the hell buries their arm that far up into the popcorn? Is she reaching for an unpopped kernel or something? Anyway, the mother [Paula] answers the door and... IT'S TOR JOHNSON!
Linkara: Oh, no! He thinks it's too late for them to be watching a movie and wants to tell them it's time for go to bed!
Paula: Oh, no... No, no...it's happening AGAIN!!
Linkara: (as Paula) I DON'T WANT ANY MORE GIRL SCOUT COOKIES! STOP KNOCKING ON MY DOOR!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, hey, check it out, they're watching Robot Monster on the TV.
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Robot Monster)
Ro-Mon: To be like the hu-man! To laugh! Feel! Want! Why are these things not in the plan?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): I think she's overreacting here. Maybe Tor just stopped by to ask them to keep the noise down while he's trying to sleep in his grave. Jeff grabs a fire poker to fend off Tor, but Diana says not to attack him.
Jeff: Diana, you don't understand! This is Inspector Clay! The aliens killed him 30 years ago! Then they brought him back! Then he disintegrated right before our eyes!
Linkara: (as Jeff) And by that, I mean we just saw his skeleton on the ground and... we didn't actually see him disintegrate, but I think my point stands!
Linkara (v/o): However, it seems the undead inspector is gesturing for them to follow him. They decide to, because following a zombie can only result in good. But Jeff makes sure to grab a gun.
Jeff: I just don't understand. I saw Clay turn into a skeleton right before my own eyes.
Linkara: (as Jeff) It was the weirdest weight-loss program I'd ever seen.
Diana: You also said he came back from the dead. If you could figure out how to do that, I imagine you could figure out how to do anything.
(Cut to a clip of a Cyberman from Doctor Who)
Cyberman: There is... logic... in what he says.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Tor leads them to the graveyard, where a flying saucer hovers over the place. There's even a bolt of lightning behind it. The only way this could be more awesome is if there was a single ink line above the thing to make it look like it was on a string.
Linkara: (holds up index finger) They'd better be careful. ExCom agents are probably taking cover around the place right now to launch an attack on that saucer.
Jeff: It's smaller than the one I remember...more modern-looking...
Linkara: (confused) As opposed to those... retro flying saucers? (shrugs) If this was made in the 2000s, would that mean it would look like an iPod?
Linkara (v/o): Diana wants to get inside, but Jeff is cautious.
Jeff: The last time I was in one of those things, I barely escaped with my life! If that's the same bunch that tried to kidnap Paula, I'm going to be ready.
Linkara: Yyyeah... I think there's very little risk of it being the same guys, Jeff.
(A clip of the original movie is shown of the original UFO burning up and exploding as it flies off)
Linkara: Unless, of course, their alien science really can save people from by (makes a "finger quote") "death by fiery explosion".
Linkara (v/o): A ramp lowers from the ship so they can come aboard.
Jeff: (to Paula) The last time this happened, Inspector Clay's corpse tried to carry you away. I don't want you to get hurt, Paula--but I've got to go in and see what this is all about.
Linkara: (as Jeff) So if that bastard comes at you, (holds up a chainsaw) use this, sweetie!
Linkara (v/o): The two start making out on the ramp.
Diana: C'mon, you two. You can do that at home.
Linkara: (as Diana) Uh, Mom? Dad? (looks away, cringing) Oh, God, stop taking off your clothes!
Linkara (v/o): All three head up the ramp... and I guess Tor is just standing out there with his mouth open...
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching Bride of the Monster)
Crow: Tor, close your mouth before you drown!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): ...and proceed into the ship, where someone says that there's no need for his Earth weapon. And thus they're confronted by... George W. Bush?! I've got to say, considering I am actually a conservative, him being an alien, I did not see this coming. What I equally did not see coming was that he has a sonic screwdriver, which he uses to make Jeff's gun disappear.
Linkara: That part I did see coming, though, since sonic screwdrivers have basically become magic wands that can do whatever the hell you want if you just (makes waving motion) wave them around.
(Cut to Lewis dressed as Doctor Who, who holds an umbrella and raises his hat)
Doctor: Hello, I'm the Doctor, and we'll be right back!
(He walks off as the AT4W logo appears in the corner, and we go to a commercial. Upon return, there is the sound of laser gunfire and the Doctor runs back in, panicked)
Doctor: Oh, dear! (looks into camera) We're back.
(He runs off as the AT4W logo appears in the corner. Cut back to the comic as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): And just as easily, they can make the gun reappear.
Dubya alien: I am Cronos, and this is Vesta. We are from the planet from which Eros and Tanna came decades of your Earth years ago. We rematerialized the big one to aid us in contacting you, in the same way I rematerialized your gun.
Linkara: Oh, I see. They want to start a zombie grant business: deliver important messages by carrier zombie.
Cronos: Upon your arrival here, he was dematerialized.
Linkara (v/o): Well, thank you for answering that question nobody was asking, considering we didn't actually see Tor disappear, just not being in any more panels. Jeff pulls the gun again, since they're from the same species that tried to invade Earth, but Vesta says that they're renegades and begins their exposition fest. All the while, Vesta keeps doing her best to pose like she was a model. Again, I do actually kind of like this because it comes across like a poor director trying to make her look seductive or something, or at least being exploitive [sic]. It's the same reason they put her in a tiny miniskirt.
Linkara: I'm not saying that these are good things in and of themselves, but because they're conventions of the kind of crappy movies Plan 9 is. And if you're trying to recreate the feel of it, it's not a bad way of approaching it.
Linkara (v/o): Cronos says that Earth is in danger. The aliens from the movie, before their ship was destroyed, sent off a recording of what happened back to their high command.
Cronos: We are a part of a growing movement on our planet--a movement that believes it is time to stop exploiting other planets--even eliminating their life--for our own gain. That is why we are here with you.
Linkara: (as Cronos) We call it "Plan: Occupy Outer Space".
Cronos: You see, not long after the failure of Plan Nine, our scientists found that they erred in their calculations. They found that you on Earth were not likely to discover the secret of solaronite for many Earth decades...
Linkara: (as Cronos) Our bad. We humbly apologize for making fun of your stupid, stupid minds.
(Footage of the movie is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, this solaronite thing was introduced in the last five minutes of the movie, basically the idea being a bomb that could explode sunlight particles, which would somehow cause a chain reaction and blow up the universe. I am not kidding.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): The aliens were invading because they thought humanity was on the cusp of inventing it.
Cronos: Therefore, they put into effect another plan--
Jeff: Plan 10?
Cronos: If you wish...
Linkara: (as Cronos) Actually, it's Plan 36. We love coming up with plans around here.
Cronos: It called for the systematic kidnapping of Earth government and industry leaders and their replacement with synthetic ones from our planet.
Linkara: (arms crossed, pouty voice) Thanks, robot ma.
Diana: Synthetic men? Wow! What are they--like androids or something?
(Cut to a clip of Dragonball Z Abridged)
Arale Norimaki: Actually, the technical term is "cyborgs".
(Back to the comic again)
Vesta: Their names cannot be spoken in your Earth language. But if they could, they would sound something like Bulleron. That is also the name of our planet.
Linkara: (as Vesta) It is also the name of a type of hairbrush and a laundry detergent.
Cronos: They are here to guide your Earth to its own death. They are here to make sure you choke on your own garbage, drown in your own waste, before your scientists stumble onto the secret of solaronite.
Linkara: So... they're just like actual politicians.
Vesta: These Bullerons occupy some of the highest government offices on your Earth, and are heads of some of the largest businesses. Under the guise of such words as convenience and progress, they secretly work together, duping your people of Earth into poisoning your own planet!
Linkara: (looking thoughtful as he strokes his chin) Heads of businesses? Convenience? Progress?! Damn it, I knew the idea of fast food home delivery was too good to be true!
Linkara (v/o): The three pretty much instantly buy it, since it "explains a lot." They say that there are two ways to identify the androids: one, that because they use a universal translator called a "dictial robetary", their words may sound weird sometimes; two, that right below their asshole is an indentation the size of a dime that's basically their equivalent of "made in China". Yes, I'm serious.
Linkara: (looking uncomfortable) Okay, that's going a bit too far in the story, sorry to say. I mean, realistically, yeah, they put it someplace where people wouldn't be looking, but that kind of silliness tends to push this into straight-up parody territory as opposed to homage sequel.
Linkara (v/o): They decided to contact Jeff and Paula, since they've actually encountered the aliens before, though that raises the question of why they don't just announce this publicly to the entire world or make a big deal out of it. Sure, there's no guarantee that humanity would believe it, but it would also get people asking questions, especially as long as the two don't try to attack anything. Anyway, Diana says that since she works for a newspaper, that she'll write up the story and get lots of photos of them as evidence of this whole thing.
(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching The She Creature)
Mike: You must admit this would be impossible to fake.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Two hours later, she's talking with her boss [Ralph], who has this to say...
(Cut to a clip of Kickassia)
Linkara: (to AngryJoe) Are you high?!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Yep, he doesn't buy any of this, and that all the evidence from back in the '50s was never solid proof and that people were crazy if they did believe it. On top of that, he can't change the front page story without approval from their boss, who was asleep and in bed and would probably be pissed off if he was woken up out of bed by their paper saying that aliens claimed that government and business leaders were replaced by robot duplicates. However, he quickly changes his tune when a tech from the photo lab stops by with the photos that Diana took with pictures of the flying saucer that are, well, clear as day. And that's actually kind of surprising, considering she took them in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm. Anyway, yeah, it makes the front page. Diana heads back to the cemetery to let them know and practices her acceptance speech for winning a Pulitzer.
Linkara: Although, really, this has less to do with you being a good reporter and more to do with you just happening to be born to two people who met aliens thirty years ago.
Linkara (v/o): However, when she arrives at the cemetery, the saucer is gone. Jeff and Paula tell her that the aliens needed to leave all of a sudden, but said that they'd be back. However, other reporters begin arriving and are kind of pissy because the aliens aren't here right now, including Duke Nukem here, who apparently used to date Diana.
Diana: I don't know why I ever went out with you in the first place, Magnum--
Linkara (v/o): Magnum? Huh, that's weird. This guy doesn't look anything like Tom Selleck. However, the aliens return and tell the family to get on board just as Duke Magnum and his cameraman try to get their cardboard box camera up and working. The aliens ignore him just before they fly off again. The two aliens explain that the Bulleron government is on to them, and they decided to risk coming back for them since they were probably watching the family.
Linkara: What the hell difference does it make now? The story's out. The world knows that the aliens are here and you can just disclose who's been replaced.
Linkara (v/o): Speaking of, he gives them a notepad with the names of people replaced.
Diana: Watt...no surprise there...and Mr. Trump...
Linkara: Definitely no surprise there.
Diana: Wow! The Vice-President?
Linkara: Which, in 1991, when this comic came out, means that Dan Quayle was a robot. And yet he couldn't spell "potato". Weirder still that he thought that Murphy Brown was destroying the American family by being a single mother. The hell does a robot care about our hu-man families?
Linkara (v/o): Just to encourage the jokes against the poor Mr. Quayle, Cronos says...
Cronos: Haven't you heard him speak? He has been here only a little of your Earth time-- and is still unfamiliar with your Earth thought.
Linkara: Does that mean that Criswell is a robot duplicate, too? Because they both seem confused about the concept of the future.
(Cut to a clip of Dan Quayle giving a press conference)
Quayle: We don't want to go back to tomorrow. We want to move forward. I think I've made good judgments in the future. And the future will be better tomorrow.
(Cut to the narrator, Criswell, for Plan 9)
Criswell: Future events such as these will affect you in the future.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Jeff asks what happens to the people they replaced and Cronos says admits that they were killed.
Jeff: In cold blood! By your planet!
Cronos: We are here to help you!
(Cut to another clip of the MST3K gang as they watch Hobgoblins)
Mike: (as Daphne) You and your stupid thoughtfulness can go to hell.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Diana points out that the people who were killed weren't exactly big losses for humanity, so she's kind of a jerk. But fortunately, Jeff points out that they're still friggin' human beings. However, that debate gets tabled because a larger UFO appears, which Vesta identifies as a Bulleron government ship. And so, our comic ends with them getting shot down and crashing into an area with palm trees and a "To be continued".
Linkara: (holds up comic) This comic... is not too bad.
Linkara (v/o): It's not really good, because it still continuing on with the ideas presented in Plan 9, but it's not awful. It seems to understand how goofy this whole thing is and isn't trying to be anything other than cheap fun, continuing the story thirty years later. I appreciate that it's not just rehashing the same story as Plan 9, that we're actually learning about the aliens a bit and getting some more character out of everybody other than the genericness of their predecessors. Still, it's not laugh-out-loud funny and stupid like the original, so in some parts, it gets it right, and in others, it doesn't go far enough. Overall, it balances itself out as just okay.
Linkara: Will I end up looking at more issues of this miniseries? (shrugs) Maybe. God help us in the future. (tosses comic aside, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
And remember, my friends: the future is our past after we have lived it.
I honestly never suspected that in a review of a Plan 9 sequel that I'd be making Dan Quayle jokes.
Filmed in Hollywood, U.S.A.
(Stinger: The closing to Plan 9 is shown)
Criswell: God help us in the future.