Thursday, October 25, 2012

Planet of the Vampires

I remember seeing the cover for this movie back when I would troll the video store shelves looking for something horrific to watch. I never ended up getting it though. I don't think the art looked like this, though it was similar. It had more skeletal creatures on it but I remember the face of the space man, I think. It was years ago, so you'll have to forgive me if I get it wrong. It took me about 20 years, but I finally made up for leaving it on the shelf so long ago.

Was it worth it? You bet.

This is classic 60s sci-fi, done by one of the masters of cinema, Mario Bava. It simply oozes style and scares and has a decent story to boot. It follows the story of two space ships that are exploring a distress signal from a mysterious planet. Due to a sudden gravity field disturbance, the ships crash and are separated. Most everyone falls unconscious save for Captain Mark Markary (fantastic name), who guides his ship down and is treated to his ship mates trying to kill each other. After stopping them from doing so and helping them regain their senses, they all decide to look for their companion ship so they can get the hell off of this rock. Unfortunately, what waits for them outside isn't so friendly, as they are picked off one by one by a mysterious foe. Can they find the other ship and get off the planet in one piece? Why are the corpses of dead crew members reanimating? Where can I get one of those cool space suits? All these questions and more are answered, on the PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES!

Ok, maybe not the last question. Still, this is a fun film with an interesting premise and some nifty effects work. The use of color in the film gives it a pulpy feel like we're reading an old EC comic and there's an eerie fog that is put to good use in both hiding the limited sets and creating a spooky atmosphere that holds only danger for our heroes. The cast is good and attack their parts with great gusto. The captain in particular is rather awesome. My only complaint would be that they tend to leave people alone quite a bit when they know something is taking them out, even if they can't see what.

Fun fact that you can read everywhere else: This movie is said to have inspired some parts of Alien, though the screenwriters for that deny ever seeing it. Still, you have a ship investigating a distress signal on a strange planet and they find a strange ship with a gigantic skeleton in it as well. Of course the rest of Alien seems to crib quite a bit from It, the Terror From Beyond Space so they really just mushed the two together. It's just really cool to the elements that they may have used. If the writers didn't see it, maybe the production designers did. Who knows?

If you like the old films and have a hankering for some classic sci-fi/horror, check it out.

No comments: