Whoever Robbed This Grave Got Ripped Off Worse Than Rivera With Capone’s Vault
Edward D. Wood Jr…
Before we talk about this film, we have to talk about the history and the players. Ed Wood had already infamous films under his resume with Glen or Glenda and Bride of the Monster before he had the idea for a film called Grave Robbers From Outer Space. Unfortunately for him, because of the last few films he did including those two notorious films, he couldn’t really find many people to finance his film. However, he was able to find some Baptist ministers to finance his films, but one of the things they wanted was changing the title of the film because they were not comfortable with the Grave Robbers. So instead, they went with Plan 9 From Outer Space.
So the casting begins, and the first person he cast was Bela Lugosi……sort of. You see, Bela Lugosi died of a heart attack in 1956. But before his untimely death, Bela Lugosi and Ed Wood had become pretty good friends due to Ed Wood’s admiration for Bela Lugosi as an actor. Because of Bela Lugosi’s lifestyle and attitude towards people, he didn’t have many friends and as far as getting roles goes, he barely could get any of those. He was considered a has-been by Hollywood and he knew it. So what is a man like Bela Lugosi to do? Accept the role from his friend who would be more than happy to have him in the film and that he did when he was in Glen or Glenda and of course Bride of the Monster. Also before Bela’s death, he had filmed scenes for several half-realized projects, like Tomb of the Vampire or The Ghoul Goes West. And with those scenes to films that were never realized before his death, Ed was able to convince his financers that this film was Bela Lugosi’s last film.
Another casting that was made very early was Tor Johnson. Ed Wood found Tor in a wrestling ring because Tor Johnson as I had mentioned in my induction of The Beast of Yucca Flats, was a pro wrestler The Super Swedish Angel and Ed, like myself and plenty of people I know, was a fan of pro wrestling. Tor had that look that Ed could easily use in his films and boy did he ever when he cast him as Lobo in Bride of the Monster.
He also was able to get Maila Nurmi, otherwise known as TV’s first horror host Vampira. In 1955, her series was cancelled and she was basically parlaying her act on the road with other TV series and in 1956, she had modelled for Disney’s character Maleficent. So with all of that not making enough money, she took the role for this film.
So with that being said, let’s look at this film.
And we start this movie with…
With Criswell Predicts…
Okay for those of you who don’t know who Criswell was, I don’t blame you because unless you lived in Los Angeles in the 1950s, you wouldn’t know him except from these films. However, in LA, he was an evangelical psychic who was well-known for his wildly inaccurate predictions. Some of his predictions involved mass cannibalism and the world ending on August 18, 1999 (way past that one); and he claimed Denver would be struck down by a ray from outer space that would cause all metal to adopt the qualities of rubber, causing horrific accidents at amusement parks. He also has three books (Criswell Predicts From Now to the Year 2000, Your Next Ten Years, and Forbidden Predictions) and a long playing record which is now a CD (Your Incredible Future) out so if you want to be in for a laugh at how nutty this guy was with his predictions, I suggest you check those out. And best of all, as many people will tell you who knew him, he legit believed the stuff that was coming out of his mouth.
Well, At Least He Is Not As Ridiculous As Gary Spivey Who I Am Convinced Hides Random Crap (a la Captain Caveman) In That Thing On His Head.
In fact, I will bring you his entire opening monologue here.
Criswell: Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown... the mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you, the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of grave robbers from outer space?
I Have A Feeling That When Criswell Did His Part, It Was Still Called Grave Robbers From Outer Space Or That Last Bit Of Monologue Would Not Make Much Sense.
We then go to where there is apparently a burial going on.
Bela Lugosi Is Probably Wondering Why He Isn’t In That Coffin
Anyway, all of the Bela Lugosi stuff is silent footage so for this part, we will get Criswell narrating to us about how this old man (seriously, that is what they are calling Bela Lugosi in this film and he is credited as Ghoul Man) just lost his wife to death and they are all at the funeral. The old man is crying and they leave and the grave diggers, who are in this movie as the other footage was from another film that never happened, start covering the grave. In fact, let Criswell tell you what is happening from his own words.
Criswell (narrating): All of us on this earth know that there is a time to live, and that there is a time to die. Yet death is always a shock to those left behind. It is even more of a shock when Death, the Proud Brother, comes suddenly without warning. Just at sundown, a small group gathered in silent prayer, around the newly-opened grave of the beloved wife of an elderly man. Sundown of the day; yet also the sundown of the old man's heart, for the shadows of grief clouded his very reason... The funeral over, the saddened group left the graveside. It was when the gravediggers started their task that strange things began to take place.
And then we cut to an airplane.
And Controls Completely Made Of Cardboard
As you can probably guess, they really aren’t on a plane. But regardless, it is here where we meet pilot Jeff Trent and co-pilot Danny. Seems like a normal day until a flash of light passes through the screen, blinding the two. They then see a flying saucer.
Or A Hubcap On A String, But Who Is Counting Here
Jeff asks the stewardess if any of the passengers saw it, but she doubts it because most of them are asleep. Well, considering there was that rough patch during the light and considering there is normally one crazy person on the plane, I would doubt that they were asleep for long. Jeff says that they shall keep this quiet until they get instructions as Danny tells the air traffic controller what happened.
The UFO lands in the graveyard and some noises spook the grave diggers, who don’t like hearing noises. The two then walk off, but they notice smoke coming from a crypt. And here comes Vampire Girl.
That Is What She Is Credited As.
Anyway, we’ll find out later that she was the old man’s wife, but now we have her killing the two grave diggers. We then cut to a house where the old man lives. He exits out and smells a flower.
One Of Them Is Inspector Daniel Clay (Played By Tor Johnson). And If You Ever Wonder Why He Always Played A Lumbering Giant, It’s Because When He Is Given Dialogue, He Sounds Like One.
Inspector Clay, after getting a summary of the situation, decides to look around…..alone. This despite the fact that Lt. John Harper (the guy in the middle) tells him that once he gets beyond the lights, he will not be able to see his own hand. Yep, Clay is an idiot.
Clay does get a flashlight however and makes his way around the graveyard. Meanwhile, Jeff is at home with his wife Paula talking about something apparently happening at the graveyard.
As Journey Would Say, Wheels In The Sky Keep On Turning.
Then the flying saucer flies by the graveyard, knocking all the authorities down and startle Inspector Clay
Clay No Like Bright Lights!!!
Clay sees the UFO land and decides to investigate. As he investigates, guess who decides to come out of his crypt.
I Swear I’m Bela Lugosi. Don’t Look At My Face!!!
And you will see the problems between Lugosi and this double, the double for Lugosi is not only taller, but he is also thinner as well. But don’t worry about that, this technique of a double looking nothing like the original would be done by many people like Steven Seagal today, although unlike Seagal, I tend to believe that Lugosi didn’t give his permission to use this double, what with him being dead and all.
Anyway, Ghoul Man and Vampire Girl surround Inspector Clay. Clay tries to fire at them, but it is of no use and all we hear is a scream.
Lt. Harper: Well, there’s one thing that is sure. Inspector Clay is dead, murdered, and somebody’s responsible.
This Man Must Be A Descendant Of Captain Obvious
Lt. Harper tells Patrolman Kelton to get the lab guys as he and Patrolman Larry get the body. Then we cut to Inspector Clay’s funeral.
I’m Guessing Clay Was An Asshole As This Is A Pretty Small Funeral
Well, at least Vampire Girl is off in the distance, mourning Inspector Clay.
I May Have Killed That Guy, But I Still Can’t Believe That Fat, Lovable Man Is Gone. *Cries*
Also, I have to mention that the pastor looks like Mr. Rogers.
Don’t You Dare Try To Say I Was In This Movie, Neighbor
The UFOs fly overhead as we see montage of people apparently seeing them and Criswell the Narrator confirms that is exactly what is happening. We even get the old newspaper thing that movies liked to do back in those days.
And That Is Ed Wood Holding That Newspaper
We then get stock footage of military people getting into place with one guy somewhere else acting as the commander.
I Assure You, I Am With That Stock Footage
The commander is Col. Tom Edwards and he gives the go ahead to fire.
And then we get to see a flying saucer go to the mother ship.
We then meet the two aliens who we will be spending most of this film with, Eros and Tanna.
Apparently The Salute To These Aliens Is Doing Part Of The Macarena.
Eros said that they had to pull in this space station to refuel and will return to Earth immediately thereafter. The Leader asks what progress has been made and Eros says that they have contacted government officials, who refuse their existence. So much for that whole “we tried contacting them but got no response” crap. The Leader asks what plan will they follow and Eros says Plan 9. The Leader then mentions that Plan 9 is the resurrection of the dead through electrodes to the brain. The Leader asks how the plan has been going and Eros reveals they have resurrected 2 dead thus far. When asked if they were seen, Eros says that nobody that is alive has seen the dead. The Leader then laments that it is too bad that it has to be this way. The Leader then sends the two on their way.
Outside, Tanna talks to Eros about how well The Leader took the report and Eros assures her that he is only taking it well, because he knows the Earth people aren’t that smart and if it was his own race, he wouldn’t be so kind. Tanna then asks about what will be next to be put in their way and Eros responds that as long as they can think, there will be problems. Eros then thinks that it is interesting that the Earth people who can think are so afraid of those who cannot, the dead. Their ship has been refueled and the two leave to head back to Earth.
We then head back to the house of Jeff and Paula as Jeff is heading out to fly another plane. He asks her to make sure that after he leaves she locks the door because he is worried about leaving her alone, with the graveyard being not that far from them. Paula assures her husband she’ll be fine with this bit of dialogue.
Paula: Now, don't you worry. The saucers are up there. The graveyard is out there. But I'll be locked up safely in there.
So basically you’re saying Paula is that you’ll be locked in the cemetery? I’m sure that will make your husband feel very comfortable. Anyway, they kiss and Jeff leaves for his job. On the plane, Jeff is nervous about his wife and the stewardess calms Jeff down whole the co-pilot Danny tries to get a date with her, but is shot down. Jeff (at the stewardess’s insistence) also asks the air traffic controller to check in on her. He does and of course she was in bed, and she says she is fine. But little does she know that she has a visitor.
Oh Boy, Oh Boy…..It Is Time For Bela To Get In On A Panty Raid
The Ghoul Man shows up in Paula’s bedroom and Paula screams and runs away.
But All I Wanted Were Some Panties.
The Ghoul Man chases her into the graveyard, where Inspector Clay is being resurrected.
Who Seems To Be Having Issues Getting Out Of There
Yep…during filming, Tor got stuck and couldn’t get out of the grave, but Ed decided to keep some of that in because he rarely did reshoots. Now imagine if a zombie hunter came up with Tor having those issues.
Tor Zombie: UrrrrruhhhhZombie Hunter: A zombie!!!
*Zombie Hunter gets his gun out*
Tor Zombie: Urrrrrhhh
Zombie Hunter: Well, come on and get out of that grave so I can shoot you back into it.
Tor Zombie: Rurgghhh
Zombie Hunter: You can’t even get out of that grave, can you?
Tor Zombie: Ughhhhh
Zombie Hunter: Man, forget this…I am not wasting a bullet for your sorry ass.
*Zombie Hunter leaves and Tor Zombie dies of starvation.*
Anyway, Clay finally gets out of that grave and notices Paula.
Who Seems To Have Knocked Over A Fake Tombstone
Man, what kind of cheap ass funeral director would make fake wooden tombstones.
Funeral Director: And that is the perfect tombstone for these departed souls.Assistant: But those are wood and fake. Shouldn’t they be made of stone.
Funeral Director: Stone and marble cost too much money. These are fine. Heck, no one will know the difference.
Paula is finally able to get to the streets and stop a car before fainting. The driver gets out to help her and sees Vampire Girl and Inspector Clay. He decides to take Paula with him and get the hell out of there in his car.
Blast, That Was My Ride So I Am Stuck Being Partially In This Movie
Once again, police are summoned to the graveyard. Meanwhile, the aliens summon the three zombies to enter their spaceship. They then turn off the electrode machine so they don’t feel like attacking. Oh and the cops explain away the blinding light being gone because most times UFOs don’t have those. Lt. Harper and his fellow cops also find a grave that has been recently dug up. Of course the strange thing is it seems that it has fallen into the grave instead of a pile being on the side of the grave. Lt. Harper has Patrolman Kelton check the tombstone to see who it is and they confirm that it is the grave of Inspector Clay.
Meanwhile at the Pentagon in what the narrator says is in Washington DC (even though it’s really in Arlington, Virginia), Col. Edwards meets the General.
Oh Hi Commissioner Gordon from the 1940s Batman & Robin Serials. Did You Take A Day Off From Catching The Wizard?
They talk about the flying saucer situation and the General wants to make sure Col. Edwards saw flying saucer because according to the Government officially, they do not exist. But Col. Edwards says that he cannot deny what he saw with his own eyes and the General agrees with him. The General also reveals that they have had contact with them and plays a recording saying with Eros basically being a smarmy asshole who insults their intelligence, but says he wants them to acknowledge they exist. Oh and they explain them understanding the aliens here by saying they have a language computer to decipher what the aliens are saying, even though that is quite unnecessary as we have seen the aliens speak plain English without the damn thing. The General then tells Col. Edwards he is heading to San Fernando, California to deal with some flying saucer issues there.
Back at the space station, Eros reports that they have now risen three undead and The Leader asks to see one of them. Tanna then goes and brings Inspector Clay in. There is a small malfunction and Clay almost strangles Eros, but Tanna throws the Electrode gun to the ground to break communication. The Leader also takes two ships from Eros’ command, leaving only his ship because he needs them elsewhere. After finding out that one of them is an old man, The Leader says he has a plan. He says that when they land back on Earth, send Ghoul Man to a dwelling and when he is close enough, cut the Electrode connection and turn on the decomposition ray as the result will astound those watching. The Leader then says to get enough dead people to march against their capitals and they will have no choice but to accept their existence.
Lt. Harper and Col. Edwards meet up with Jeff and Paula to see how they are doing. The aliens land in the graveyard and send Ghoul Man out to their house.
Eros decides that he is going to let the people find them so they can relay the message to them. Eros also has Clay go after Paula and Larry. Clay attacks and knocks out Kelton while picking up a fainting Paula.
Eros: I, a fiend? I am a soldier of our planet. I, a fiend? We did not come here as enemies. We came only with friendly intentions, to talk. To ask your aid.
When Edwards questions why they would want our aid, Eros gives another monologue about how we refuse to accept their existence despite their messages and saucers. He then says that he wants to contact the Earth to warn them against using a weapon that would destroy the entire galaxy, the Solaranite. He explains all about our bombs of the past and says that our “juvenile” minds would screw everyone in the universe over with the Solaranite because when we do make it, we will use it and every planet connected with our sun will be effected. Jeff then says that the Solaranite might make us a stronger mind, and Eros gives the response that we all have heard. The response that makes the so-called smarter aliens act like petulant children.
Eros: You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!
And Jeff pistol whips him for that remark because I guess he was offended by a man acting like a child although if I had heard that dialogue, I would have laughed my ass off. He then explains about that they believe in God too (highly doubtful in real life since not all of Earth believes in God, but then again this was funded by religious people), our violent tendencies, and how the Solaranite works as to why we must be destroyed. Harper calls him mad. Tanna wants to talk in Eros defense, but Eros cuts her off by shoving her and saying this.
Eros: In my land, women are for advancing the race, not for fighting man's battles.
You know Eros, you’re not helping your cause of being a more advanced race with that sort of sexism.
Another police car pulls up and the officer comes out to help Patrolman Larry, who is now awakening.
Of Course, We Have To Block Out Part Of The License Plate Because I Guess That Was The Car’s Condition For Being In This Movie.
Larry helps Kelton up and Kelton explains that Inspector Clay knocked him out and took Paula so they go to stop him.
By The Way, This Is The Last Time We Will See Vampire Girl. Looking Like She Realized She Was In A Terrible Movie And Calmly Trying To Walk Away Without Arousing Suspicion.
Harper tries to have the two aliens come to the police station with them, but Eros laughs it off. He then shows Clay with Paula again and says he could break her in half if Eros commanded it. Meanwhile Kelton and Larry come upon Clay holding Paula and has a great idea.
Yep….He Wants To Hit The Dead Guy With A Stick.
And he does so, and it works, having Clay drop Paula and becoming knocked out. Once again, Eros laughs this off by saying that this only worked because they didn’t have the electrodes on. Eros tries to turn it on, but Harper has the gun on him and tells him not to move. The aliens then try to stop from being taken captive and an all-out fight begins. Tanna tries to get the ship in the air, but Eros gets knocked into the equipment, knocking him out.
Alas Poor Clay, I Knew Thee Well
They talk about the other zombie, but Harper says they’ll probably find her looking like him now as well. They then hand it to the aliens for being far ahead of us. I of course have to call bullshit on that since well, their culture is hugely sexist and well, they act like complete freaking children. You know, to be far ahead of us and our violent culture, you have to be more mature than us.
And after that, Criswell comes back to give us his closing monologue.
Criswell: My friend, you have seen this incident, based on sworn testimony. Can you prove that it didn't happen? Perhaps, on your way home, someone will pass you in the dark, and you will never know it... for they will be from outer space. Many scientists believe that another world is watching us at this moment. We once laughed at the horseless carriage, the airplane, the telephone, the electric light, vitamins, radio, and even television. And now some of us laugh at outer space. God help us in the future.
And that is where this film ends.
With This Silhouette of Criswell.
This film was shown in theaters and audiences laughed this film off the screen. And for more than 20 years afterwards…this film actually went into obscurity. Yes, I know that is surprising, but a lot of these really bad films went into obscurity. For this film, it wasn’t until 1980 when authors Michael and Harry Medved called this the worst movie ever made and posthumously called Ed Wood the worst director ever with a Golden Turkey, that this film even started gaining cult status. Now this film is legendary and despite all the flaws, this film is beloved, even having a 66% favorability on Rotten Tomatoes. Many people have said that the craptastic parts of this film are too amusing to be considered the worst ever. There are also planned remakes for the films, but considering who is in them and who is making them, they are more independent films than anything else.
For many of the actors, good things did not go their way.* Marla Nurmi aka Vampira (who played Vampire Girl) got ripped off by the creators of Elvira, who she sued for gimmick infringement and lost because "likeness means actual representation of another person's appearance, and not simply close resemblance." With Elvira having a different look other than the black hair and dress, she was able to do what she did, although originally they did try to call Elvira “Vampira” and they had to put a stop to that. Vampira died in 2008 of natural causes at the age of 85
* Criswell appeared in a few more Ed Wood films and died in 1982 of cardiac arrest. Posthumously, his song “Someone Walked Over My Grave” was released by fellow co-star and longtime friend Paul Marco.
* Ed Wood continued doing movies, but after the Sinister Urge, his career would spiral downward into nudie flicks, softcore pornography, and even some X-Rated novels and films.
Pornography? I’ll Have To Hunt Some Of That Down
Anyway, Ed Wood developed a drinking problem and had depression. He and his wife Kathy were evicted from their Hollywood apartment on Yucca Street on Thursday December 7, 1978. The couple moved into the North Hollywood apartment of their friend actor Peter Coe. Wood spent the weekend drinking vodka. Around noon on December 10, Wood felt ill and went to lie down in Coe's bedroom. He asked Kathy to bring him a drink which she refused to do. He then yelled out, "Kathy, I can't breathe!" a plea Kathy ignored as she later said she was tired of Wood bossing her around. After hearing no movement from the bedroom, Kathy sent a friend to check on Wood who discovered him dead from a heart attack. Kathy later said, "I still remember when I went into that room that afternoon and he was dead, his eyes were wide open. I'll never forget the look in his eyes. He clutched at the sheets. It looked like he'd seen hell." Wood was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at sea. Wood's wife Kathy died on June 26, 2006, having never remarried.* Gregory Walcott (who played Jeff Trent) was probably one of the few happy aftermaths. Despite long regretting being in this film until 2000, in an interview he said “It’s better to be remembered for something than for nothing, don’t ya think?” He even made a cameo appearance in 1994’s Ed Wood (directed by Tim Burton). And even before all of that, he had a good relationship with Clint Eastwood that he would get featured roles in four of Eastwood’s films. He was also in the Sugarland Express, a chase movie directed by a young Steven Spielberg.
*Duke More (who played Lt. Harper) also appeared in a few more Ed Wood films before dying in 1976 of a heart attack.
* Tom Keene (who played Col. Edwards) retired from acting and focused on real estate and the insurance business. He died of cancer at the age of 66 in 1963
* Carl Anthony (who played Patrolman Larry) did one more film (The Sinister Urge) before retiring and becoming a commercial airline pilot. Anthony traveled to approximately 64 countries and most recently resides in the Philippines, where he was hired to help with flight details for a mining company in pursuit of the hidden gold and treasures looted by General Tomoyuki Yamashita during World War II.
* As Ed Wood’s filmography shifted more towards pornography, Paul Marco (who played Patrolman Kelton) retired from acting more or less. He planned a career revival with some shorts called “Dark Corner”, but before he could complete them, he died in 2006 at the age of 78 after a long battle with hip problems and chronic illness.
* Mona McKinnon did one more film Night of the Ghouls (despite being an uncredited role) and retired. She died in 1990 at the age of 60. In 1993, she was posthumously featured in a short called Hellborn in the video called Hellborn.
* Tor Johnson was one more movie, the previous Monster Crap induction The Beast of Yucca Flats. In 1971, Tor died of a heart failure at the age of 67 in San Fernando, California (oddly enough, that was where Plan 9 From Outer Space took place)
* Dudley Manlove (who played Eros) did two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, an uncredited minor role in The Runaway, and Lagan in The Creation of the Humanoids before retiring from acting. He died in 1996 at the age of 81.
* Joanna Lee (who played Tanna) did two more small TV roles before retiring to become a writer for several TV series (Flintstones, Mr. Magoo, The Brady Bunch, Dynasty, I Dream of Jeanie, Gilligan’s Island, Top Cat, Johnny Quest, etc.), winning an Emmy for the Thanksgiving episode of the Waltons. She had two kids from two different marriages (her first when she was 20) and her first son, then a music director at L.A. Weekly, sadly died in 1992 of AIDS. She died in 2003 at the age of 72 of bone cancer.
* John “Bunny” Breckinridge returned to stage acting and wanted in 1994 to help with the publicity for Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, but his advanced years and failing heath prevented him from doing so. He died in 1996 at the age of 93. He was quoted in the obituary as saying “I was a little bit wild when I was young, darling, but I lived my life grandly.”
* Lyle Talbot (who played the General) went back to playing Joe Randolph on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet and then did small TV roles afterwards. He married five times and the fifth one lasted 40 years before his wife’s death. Three of his four kids from that marriage became writers or journalist (the other became a physician) and one of his grandchildren is an actress. He died in 1996 from congestive heart failure at the age of 94.
Now for my opinions on the movie. Do I consider it the worst movie ever made? Oh hell no. This movie is too funny and goes by pretty fast to be the worst movie I have ever seen. Is it bad though technical wise? Oh abso-freaking-lutely. But then again, you have to understand that Ed Wood was one of those guys who loved almost every film he made and despite its flaws, you can see that love in Plan 9 From Outer Space. Like I have said many times, you can’t hate on a film where you can tell the actors are having fun with the film and the actors had chemistry with each other. So yeah, I’m glad to finally have inducted this film into Monster Crap as it has long been overdo for one of these write-ups.
Well, now that we are done with that, what is next.
Well, it seems your fans seem to enjoy you having fun (lord knows why) as they have given you another film you kind of like in a way. You have always said you were a fan of Tim Thomerson and now you get your chance to induct one of his films.
Oh Yeah…I’m Gonna Enjoy This.