Plan Nine Not Necessarily Aliens’ Ninth Attempt

One of my favorite films is Ed Wood’s PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. The movie needs no introduction, but in case you’ve never heard of it, you can watch it for free here, and you can read its many online reviews, such as this one from

In the film the aliens choose to follow “Plan 9,” which alien space commander Eros and “the ruler” describe as follows (lines excerpted from the script at

You have your report?

We had to pull in here to Space Station 7 for regeneration. We’re returning to
the planet Earth immediately thereafter.

What progress has been made?

We contacted government officials. They refuse over existence.

What plan will you follow now?

Plan 9. It’s been absolutely impossible to work through these Earth creatures.
Their soul is too controlled.

Plan 9…ah yes. Plan 9 deals with the resurrection of the dead. Long-distance
electrodes shot into the pinion pituitary glands of recent dead.

Aside from the inane and sometimes nonsensical nature of the dialogue, you might notice that at no point do Eros or the Ruler ever indicate that Plan 9 represents the aliens’ ninth attempt to deal with the people of Earth. Many online reviews, as well as the Rifftrax riffs of the film, persist the notion that the aliens are following Plan 9 because the previous eight plans must have failed, but this claim is not necessarily supported by the dialogue or Criswell’s narration.

(As an aside, what exactly are the aliens trying to do? They’re trying to prevent humans from discovering solarmonite, an incredible weapon that the aliens believe humans will misuse to the detriment of the universe.)

What is certain is that Plan 9 is not the aliens’ first attempt “to work with the Earth creatures.” Eros chose Plan 9 because their previous attempt failed. In the quoted dialogue, Plan 9 is being followed because the aliens’ attempt to contact government officials did not result in a desirable outcome. General Roberts tells Colonel Tom Edwards that the aliens sent a dozen messages to Earth, the last of which was received over one month before the film opens. With the exception of the twelfth and final message, the aliens’ attempts to contact humans failed because humans could not yet translate the aliens’ messages. On the other hand, Edwards tells one of his direct reports that humans attempted to contact the aliens, but the aliens never replied. After this exchange, the aliens attacked “a town of people. People who died.” Whatever the reason for the aliens’ failure, it seems that, at a minimum, Plan 9 is the aliens’ third attempt to deal with humans:

  1. Aliens attempt to contact Earth governments
  2. Aliens attack a town
  3. Plan 9

The aliens have also chosen to fly their flying saucers in the open over such locations as Hollywood, California, and Washington, D.C. If we assume that these publicly witnessed flights are part of yet another attempt to deal with humans, then Plan 9 would be, at a minimum, the aliens’ fourth attempt to “work through these Earth creatures.”

  1. Aliens contact Earth governments
  2. Aliens attack a town
  3. Aliens’ flying saucers fly in plain sight in the skies of Earth
  4. Plan 9

Colonel Edwards, “in charge of saucer field activities,” has experience in shooting at the alien ships, and he is familiar with the alien attack on the town. Giving the aliens the benefit of the doubt, one could assume that Edwards’ hostilities toward the flying saucers were in response to the saucers’ attack on the town. In other words, Plan 9 still might be only the fourth attempt of the aliens to attain their goals. Similarly Eros mentions in the aliens’ final message to humans that

…we have had to take certain means which you might refer to as criminal, but that is because of your big guns which have destroyed some of our representatives.

If we take Eros’ claim at face value, then Plan 9 could still represent the aliens’ fourth attempt to deal with humans. The “criminal means” taken by the aliens need not represent yet another attempt.

PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is too silly to take seriously, and I’ve no doubt that I’ve just scrutinized some details of the story far more heavily than is warranted. I simply wanted to point out that, despite the fact that the aliens’ latest course of action involves following a plan called Plan 9, it’s possible that Plan 9 is the aliens’ fourth, not ninth, attempt to prevent humans from developing solarmonite.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that Plan 9 represents the aliens’ 900th attempt.

Yeah… I’m going with Plan 9 being their 900th attempt.