Planet Of The Vampires (Italy 1965)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/31/22
Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell

Upon receiving a strange signal, two spaceships approach a mysterious planet and land on it. The crew of the Argos survived, while the crew of the other ship inexplicably went mad and killed each other. A strange invisible presence on the planet threatens them, and Captain Mark (Barry Sullivan) and his crew discover they're not the first people to be summoned there. They also discover that their dead comrades are being reanimated as zombies who are trying to leave their dying world.

The original title of the film was appropriately "Terror In Space," but AIP wanted something more dramatic sounding for the American market. That said, if you're looking for vampires, you'll be sorely disappointed as there are none. While it's not a good movie, director Mario Bava excels at creating a tense and eerie atmosphere full of bizarre and unsettling imagery. The massive sets and gothic costumes make everything about the film seem alien and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the visual effects are laughably awful, but amazingly all performed in camera to avoid expensive optical printing techniques. The film is as tacky as it is spooky, and the mood is creepy throughout. The pacing is dreadfully slow, but at least there's always something interesting to look at and the charismatic crew does a good job of selling the setting. It's unmistakably similar to Ridley Scott's "Alien" (1979) in its plot, tone, and art direction, and is an important piece of pulp science fiction filmmaking.