Another Plan From Outer Space opens with both the Star Spangled Banner and a quick trip through history. We watch and listen as President John F. Kennedy announces that, some day, a man will walk on the Moon. Kennedy is followed by Barack Obama, announcing that we will land on Mars within his lifetime. And finally, we have President Trump, announcing that we will not only someday land on Mars but on other worlds as well.
Jump forward to 2024 and all of those predictions have come true. There are now Martian colonies and space shuttles regularly make the journey from Earth to Mars and back again. Man may have conquered space but that doesn’t mean that accidents don’t occasionally happen. For instance, after we’ve heard from the Presidents, we watch as the American spaceship Genesis One crashes into the desert.
Five members of the crew manage to survive the crash. They know they’re on Earth but, with their communications equipment damaged, they don’t know exactly where they are. As Chief Hudson (Augie Duke) puts it, they could just as easily be in the Middle East as they could be in North America. With the mission leader dead, Captain Jackson (Scott Sell) takes command and immediately starts giving out orders, much to the annoyance of Commander Strickland (Jessica Morris).
However, the crew has more than just professional jealousy and hurt feelings to deal with. Strange things are happening in the desert. Hudson swears that she saw the ship’s doctor, Yushiro (Minchi Murakami), fatally injured by something in the desert, just for the body to vanish and Yushiro to later show up quite alive and uninjured. While Lt. Brooks (Hans Hernke) worries that his watch — a family heirloom — has stopped working, Captain Jackson swears that he can hear music in the distance.
And then there’s the seemingly abandoned cabin, sitting out in the middle of the desert….
Though the title may be evocative of Plan Nine From Outer Space, this film actually has more in common with a classic episode of The Twilight Zone than it does with Ed Wood’s infamous UFO epic. Along with exploring the mystery of where the Genesis has crashed, the film is even more interested in exploring how each of the individual survivors deal with the isolation of being stranded in the desert. (Let’s just say that some handle it better than others.) About halfway through the film, there’s an extended sequence in which the survivors simply sit around a campfire and discuss not only their pasts but what they’re hoping for their futures. It’s a nicely done scene, one that adds an element of relatable humanity to the film’s science fiction story.
The film’s black-and-white cinematography not captures the harshness of the desert but it also contributes to the film’s retro feel. The film makes the best of its low-budget aesthetic, using the desert to create a properly ominous atmosphere. At its best, you can feel the oppressive heat burning down on the characters. Add to that a nicely fierce performance from Jessica Morris and you have a film that favorably compares to the early sci-fi work of Roger Corman. The film, of course, ends with both a twist and the possibility of continuation.
Another Plan From Outer Space is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD.