Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October 20 - Planet of the Vampires [1965]

Planet of the Vampires (1965)
Director: Mario Bava
Starring: Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Angela Aranda

From yesterday's A Blade in the Dark, directed by Lamberto Bava, we jump today to a sci-fi horror movie directed by Lamberto's father, the legendary Mario Bava.

By 1965, Mario already had a string of successful horror movies under his belt, including Blood and Black Lace, Black Sabbath and and Black Sunday, when he turned to a mix of scifi and horror, with "Terrore nello Spazio" (Terror in Space), known in the US as Planet of the Vampires.

In the near future the two spaceships Argos and Galliot are sent to investigate the mysterious planet Aura. As the Galliot lands on the planet her crew suddenly go berserk and attack each other. The strange event passes, but the crew soon discovers the crashed Argos - and learns that her crew died fighting each other! Investigating further, the explorers come to realize the existence of a race of bodiless aliens that seek to escape from their dying world.

Despite the use of the word vampire in the title, this is more of a zombie movie, as dead rise from their graves to attack the living. Watching Planet of the Vampires, it soon becomes apparent how much this movie (along with It! The Terror From Beyond Space) influenced Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). There are a few sequences which were clearly lifted for Alien, such as when the astronauts discover the Argos and investigate.

Bava's iconic camerawork is used to full extent, along with his love of using resplendent colours, resulting in a film that is beautiful to look at but chilling at the same time, something that can't be said for many 1950s-60s scifi-horror movies.

Planet of the Vampires is an excellent little film, and one that all scifi/horror fans should check out, especially those with a love for the Alien movies (and let's face it, who doesn't?).

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