Film reviews

#1 – Planet of the Vampires

Planet of the Vampires (1965)

Film review #1

dir. Mario Bava

A classic sci-fi movie which apparently was a large inspiration for future sci-fi movies such as Ridley Scott’s Alien (1980). The imagined ship designs and architecture is busy, yet plain: created with large angular panels of stainless steel and sequences of blinking lights and buttons. The lustre and sheen of the steel sets still belies a sense of darkness, which compliments the horror genre of the movie. Compare these to the set of the “alien” ship about halfway into the movie, where the architecture is very different, adorned with curved controls, lights and circular doors and hallways.

The designs and props are somewhat humourously cheap to look at today. The floor of the space ship looks like it’s made of concrete, so someone could not be bothered to conceal the studio floor no doubt. Also the guns are more like glorified lighters, with added sound effects when they are sparked to turn the flames that come out into lasers which never make any contact with anyone…

The twist at the end I saw coming. Throughout the film, the word “Earth” is never mentioned: Always “Home” or “our planet”, hinted subtly that the humans who crash land on the planet Aura aren’t actually from Earth, though at the end of the film, the aliens of Aura steal the humans bodies and cannot reach their unnamed home planet, instead having to stop at a “primitive” planet who still “build buildings out of stone and iron” (aka Earth)

The whole design screams 1960’s. The cheap sets, painted backdrops instead of on-location shots, the wooden acting and script (The voices were dubbed into English since it was originally made in Italian)…

As a final note, why is it called Planet of the Vampires anyway? THERE ARE NO VAMPIRES IN THE MOVIE. AT ALL. The antagonists are beings who steal the human’s bodies so they’re more like parasites. Planet of the Parasites would be more appropriate. I supposed it was originally made in Italian under the name Terrore Nello Spazio, Which I’m pretty sure does not have Vampires anywhere in the title…