31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome italian sci fi/horror flick -- reminds me of Alien
This is a great old sci fi/horror flick by that master Mario Bava. This movie starts out with two ships in orbit around a planet. You are treated to some really cool electronic sound effects/music and the best technobabble I have ever heard -- Star Trek has nothing on these guys. The ships are sucked in to the planet at 60 G's -- only the heroic captain is able to...
Published on November 2, 2001 by David Koski
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange,but interesting
This film was made by Italian director Mario Bava who made a number of good horror films in the sities and early 1970's. This film was made on a slim budget, but they did the bet they could. They utilized left over sets from a sword and sandal epic, then they pumped in the fog and covered the landscape with lots of vibrant blues and reds to really give it an alien feel...
Published on June 12, 2001 by Mark
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome italian sci fi/horror flick -- reminds me of Alien,
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)This is a great old sci fi/horror flick by that master Mario Bava. This movie starts out with two ships in orbit around a planet. You are treated to some really cool electronic sound effects/music and the best technobabble I have ever heard -- Star Trek has nothing on these guys. The ships are sucked in to the planet at 60 G's -- only the heroic captain is able to withstand that kind of force. The movie goes on to deal with what they encounter on the surface as they search for the other ship.
The special effects are a bit cheesy by today's standard, but not bad for a film of its time. They are not overused to ill effect either. The overall atmosphere of the film is properly chilling.
Some of the visuals, plot elements, and even music remind so much of Alien. I have to suspect that Ridley Scott has seen this movie at least once.
I rate this film excellent and highly recommend it!
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Juicy and scary planet -- great Sci-Fi entertainment!,
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)Well, I believe it now. When I was in film school, one of my instructors told me that all the stories that could possibly be told were done prior to the 70's; anything else is just a re-make. Ridley Scott ripped off Mario Bava, John Carpenter ripped off Mario Bava, and I'm sure there are plenty more! I have 7-8 Bava films now in my collection, and it's so obvious that modern filmmakers have stolen ideas and scenes directly from Bava's films.
"Alien", no doubt in my mind, was conceived using "Planet of the Vampires" as a basis. All they had to do was create a frightening, living alien for that film series -- everthing else was written for them here!
But on to reviewing the DVD: You won't notice them right away, but as the film progresses you'll enjoy the beautiful women featured. They are Evi Marandi and Norma Bengell. As they change costumes or remove parts of their opening wardrobe, they will become more visible. They are your typically juicy, delicious women in a Bava film but in this movie there's no reason for them to be sensual. They're still fine to look at, and it was great that Bava used more than one woman in the crew back then.
The DVD picture is rather nice -- beautiful and strange colors and the film is rather sharp for its' date. All colors, mist, bubbling, etc. are rendered nicely from this old film.
The soundtrack is the real treat. This is a mono soundtrack, but it again has the enveloping sound like "Blood and Black Lace", so if you have multiple speakers different sounds will come from different places. The unusual spaceship, planet, and space sounds are quite effective. The only problem with sound here is that during obvious loud parts the sound fades away.
I'd say this film will appeal to science fiction fans more than the horror/gore fans. But if you insist on building your Mario Bava collection like I have, then you will want to own this remarkable DVD that holds up today as a very nice space epic. Surprise ending -- something that "Alien" did not have.
There is no DVD insert booklet nor chapter list.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrore Nello Spazio!!!!,
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)I like this film alot. Planet of the Vampires has some cool sci-fi(for it's time)futuristic dialog and gadgets. In one scene a female character actually SCANS a document with a scanner next to a computer monitor, and THIS IS IN 1965!!!! Also this was a year before Star Trek came out, so you can't accuse of copycat. It's similar to Star Trek but much darker and sinister. The colors are really cool but when I seen it in black and white when I was a kid on "Monster Movie Matinee" I thought it was more eerie. They have neat weapons and cool black leather suits. At one point the captain and a hot chick Italian actress find a derelict ship with some ancient giant skeletons in it. By the way this movie has tons o titles but I think the original Italian one is Terrore Nello Spazio, which means Terror in Space. Even though this is always accredited as totally Italian, Barry Sullivan the star is American, I believe and the film company is American International. I would recommend this to anyone who likes older sci-fi.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing SCI-FI Horror (Inspiration for "LIFEFORCE"?),
By A Customer
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)For those of you who have seen James Cameron's "ALIENS," don't expect the same amount of high-energy excitement; however, I wouldn't call this film "boring."
Director Mario Bava is probably best known as a "visual director," or an "artist," since the film is a showcase for his surreal use of multi-colored sets and lighting gels, making it look absolutely unique--like no other sci-fi you've ever seen. I think I might even prefer "PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES" to "FORBIDDEN PLANET," believe it or not--"FORBIDDEN" was, to me, somewhat slow and dragging.
This film at least keeps your interest. There is a constant, non-stop eerieness throughout, with ghostly planetary sounds (of unknown origin), with a feeling of foreboding evil; some chills may overwhelm you...some hairs may be raised. It's not scary (i.e., jump-outta-your-seat), but haunting in both its conception & presentation...some concepts in the storyline may have even inspired the 1985 film, "LIFEFORCE."
It's only 87 minutes long, beautifully presented in 1:85 Widescreen, and the film print is as crisp and physically flawless as it no doubt looked during its premier in 1965. I once owned this on VHS...full-screen (1:33), and the images were murky and "squashed" like a Godzilla movie. Is the DVD worth the money? Of course, it is...perhaps even a little MORE. If you'd rather rent it first...please do so; either way, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "How many strange things seem and then are, ever since we got on this planet?",
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)I don't think I've seen a film that went by as many different titles as American International Picture's Planet of the Vampires (1965) has over the years...there's Terrore nello spazio, Demon Planet, Planet of Blood, Space Mutants, Terror en el espacio, Terror in Space, The Haunted Planet, The Haunted World, The Outlawed Planet, The Planet of Terror, and my personal favorite, The Planet of the Damned, which, I think, is a more appropriate title than the one used here, but whatever...directed by the legendary Mario Bava (Black Sunday, A Bay of Blood), who also co-wrote the original version, the film features Barry Sullivan (Shark!, Earthquake), along with a slew of foreign actors, mainly Italians, I'm not really familiar with including Norma Bengell (The Murdered House), Ángel Aranda (Satan's Blood), Evi Marandi (Agent 077 Fury in the Orient), and Fernando Villena (The Blind Dead 4).
The film opens in deep space, as we're aboard a futuristic looking ship named The Argos, which features about the biggest control room I've ever seen...seriously, it's huge, and includes a whole lot of unused space...at least there's lots of room to move...anyway, this is one of two ships traveling towards a distant planet called Aura. Apparently some sort of signal is emanating from the mysterious, fog shrouded, world and The Argos, along with her sister ship The Galilea, and have come to check things out. After losing contact with The Galilea, Captain Mark Markary (Sullivan) and his crew finds themselves in trouble, as The Argos is caught in some sort of gravity well, one that is drawing the ship towards the planet. After an emergency landing, the crew finds themselves in the grip of the space madness, attacking each other for no, apparent reason (it's like they turned Klingon), but eventually they manage to snap out of it, with no memories of their actions. After spotting their sister ship off in the distance, the captain and a few hardy individuals hoof it on over, across a barren, craggy, molten wasteland, only to find the crew of The Galilea in bad shape, i.e. they're dead, Jim. But are they? After the `away team' buries the recently deceased and returns to The Argos we discover the ship is damaged to the point where they can't take off, which is really bad because, due to the wacky orbit of the planet, if they don't leave in like three days, they'll never get home. The engineering dude says he might be able to make repairs enough for them to take off, or blow up (that's reassuring). Only problem is crewmembers keep disappearing, and the bodies previously buried don't seem to want to stay buried...turns out the crusty fog planet is inhabited by unseen creatures that have their own designs for The Argos and her crew, ones that don't necessarily entail a peaceful co-existence, if you know what I mean.
Overall I really enjoyed this, creepy, highly atmospheric science fiction thriller, and it was really interesting to see various concepts in this early film adapted in other, more poplar films released later on, specifically Ridley Scott's 1979 feature Alien. At one point the crew finds a large, derelict alien spacecraft, complete with skeletal remains of some rather large beings...sound familiar? Now I'm not saying Dan O'Bannon, who wrote the story for Alien, stole the idea from Bava's film, but one can't help but notice various similarities between the two films. One aspect that really sets this feature apart from many of the science fiction films of the time is the attention to detail regarding the overall atmosphere. This may have been a modestly budgeted feature, but it's hard to tell given the expansive space ship interiors and creepy, intimidating landscapes of the alien planet. One thing's for sure, Bava certainly knew how to set the mood utilizing effects, such as lighting, fog, spooky electronic scoring, etc. to create rich, vibrant, and imaginative backdrops for his features. The pacing can get a bit slow here, but I really didn't mind, as there was so much to take in visually. Something I really appreciated were the special effects in this film, often incorporating miniatures mixed in with live action footage, looking very realistic. Whoever was responsible for this did an outstanding job, given the technology available at the time. I'm no special effects expert, but I have seen enough films to provide an opinion towards this aspect, respective to when the movie was made. As far as the acting goes, well, it works well enough for the film, but none really stood out as being overly impressive, partly due to the sometimes odd and expository dialogue. The Captain's signature line seemed to be "I'll explain it to you later." Another kind of goofy aspect was how, after a mysterious, unexplained occurrence it wasn't unusual for someone to make an incredibly intuitive deduction that was right on the money...it was almost as if the characters in the film were privy to the script. One example of this is when a crewmember, apparently in a trance, tries to steal a vital component from The Argos, only to be stopped by Captain Markley. Afterwards he tries to describe what happened, and another states his mind must have been controlled by some malevolent alien force inherent to the planet. I suppose one would have eventually come to that conclusion, but given how little information was available at the time, it seemed like an amazingly accurate hypothesis. These various, astute deductions seemed almost uncanny at time with regards to their accuracy. I did like the mixture of males and females in the cast, along with the fact the female characters were relatively strong ones, expected to perform the same duties as their male counterparts, and not there just to serve coffee and such as was commonplace in films like this of the time. There are a few unintentionally humorous bits throughout, my favorite being when the captain and a female crewmember were investigating the giant, derelict alien ship. The female crewmember touches a disk found on the ship, only to get one heck of a shock, issuing an appropriate yelp. The captain comes running over, asks what happened, and then proceeds to touch the very same object she did, receiving the same shock...it's like going to a restaurant and having the server delivering a plate of food and issuing a warning that said plate is very hot. After she leaves, what's the first thing you see people do? Touch the damn plate...but I digress...if you enjoy classic science fiction films oozing with atmosphere and don't mind sometimes overly talky characters, then this feature would definitely be worth your time.
The picture on this DVD, presented in non-anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), looks very sharp and does justice to Bava's glorious, often haunting visuals, and the Dolby Digital audio comes across extremely well, highlighting the highly excellent and appropriate musical scoring. The only extra available is a slightly worn, original theatrical trailer.
If I learned anything from this film, it's that if you ever find yourself on a derelict alien spaceship, don't go flipping switches...by the way, I almost forgot to mention why I didn't care for the title of this film...there aren't any vampires in the film, at least not in the tradition sense.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange,but interesting,
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)This film was made by Italian director Mario Bava who made a number of good horror films in the sities and early 1970's. This film was made on a slim budget, but they did the bet they could. They utilized left over sets from a sword and sandal epic, then they pumped in the fog and covered the landscape with lots of vibrant blues and reds to really give it an alien feel. The story starts with a spaceship responding to a distress call from another ship in their fleet. They discover the crew has murdered each other, but then the bodies disappear. The crew is performing repairs and then some of their members disappear one by one. They are forced to kill each other and then invisible alien invaders take over their bodies. The plot is fair, but the odd camera angles and the look of the planet help to make this one worth seeing. This film is sometimes very strange, but sometimes near brilliant considering what little they had to work with.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original Alien owes a lot to Planet of the Vampires,
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)I know that the DVD is not out yet as of this writing. I am reviewing the VHS version.
If you are a fan of the original ALIEN, like James Cameron and I are, you will love this movie. Not so much for the plot, but for the many things in it that will remind you of the ALIEN and ALIENS movies that came later. Here are just some of the similarities:
1) They are answering a signal that has been sent from the planet, 2) Helmets setting on consoles like they were in ALIEN, 3) A somewhat cheesy landing sequence like ALIEN, 4) The planet surface will remind you of the one in ALIENS, 5) The round hatch is similar to the 3 openings on the green, horseshoe shaped ship from both ALIEN & ALIENS, 6) In order to keep production costs down, the two ships that visit the planet are identical both inside & out. This way, the same interior/exterior sets could be used for both ships. A distant shot of the identical ship will also remind one of the horseshoe shaped ship.
And, On one visit to a derelict ship, they come across huge, skeletal figures which will remind one of the skeleton in the horseshoe shaped ship. There are more things like these, but I will let you discover them yourself.
The music score is similar to the one in FORBIDDEN PLANET, with lots of electronic sounds, rather than real instruments. However, an electric guitar is obvious in this score.
Barry Sullivan, the American lead, obviously speaks his own lines. However, if the Italian actor's voices were dubbed in, this is one of the best looping jobs in a movie that I have ever seen!
The voice of the doctor Carron (not sure of spelling) sounds just like Paul Frees. Frees was a frequent voice in the Rock/Bullwinkle cartoons and he was also a news reporter in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS movie. You can also see him a little in a scientist role in the original THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. I am not sure if Frees is the voice, but it is a dead ringer for his.
Despite the plot holes, this is sure worth the price that Amazon is asking for the CD, even if it does not have any special features. I am ordering the CD version right now.
Enjoy it and always watch the skies!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bava's space thriller drips atmosphere; lean but clean DVD,
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)"Vampires from outer space possess the living and resuscitate the dead!" Sounds like an Ed Wood tag line but it's actually the plot of Planet of the Vampires, the sole foray into the 'pure' science fiction genre by gothic horror maestro Mario Bava, best known as the father of the giallo movie and director of the seminal Italian horror masterpiece Black Sunday/The Mask of Satan. Planet of the Vampires overlays Bava's moody gothic visuals on an entertaining pulp SF script penned by Bava, Ib Melchior (Angry Red Planet, Reptilicus, Time Travelers), and a half dozen other writers. The plot (containing some interesting parallels with Colin Wilson's The Space Vampires) is fairly absorbing; there are some well-handled action scenes (and the usual fast zooms); Barry Sullivan is credible as Mark Markery (?!), captain of the spaceship Argus; and Norma Bengell (The Hellbenders) and Evi Marandi (Revenge of the Barbarians, Paris When It Sizzles) are easy on the eyes as Sanya and Tiona (everyone looks great in those black leather space suits). But what really distinguishes this movie are its imaginative visuals and doom-laden atmosphere; Bava's "demon planet" is no gray, dusty moonscape; it looks more like a day-glo hell: twisting, jagged rocks, dripping slime, boiling, smoking pits, the atmosphere dense with slowly swirling clouds of smoke and fog, lit by random splashes of electric blue, green, and red. Inspired moments include: creeping ground-fog used (a la Black Sunday) to signify encroaching evil; the resuscitated vampires ripping off their plastic shrouds in slo-mo; and the humans discovering the gigantic skeletal remains of the planet's former inhabitants. On balance, some of Bava's low-budget in-camera tricks and forced perspective shots, so effectively utilized in B&W in Black Sunday (check out the excellent commentary by Tim Lucas on Image's DVD), fall flat here in color; the spaceship/starfield scenes are only marginally better than the horrible effects in all those crappy Antonio Margheriti-directed Italian 1960s space operas (War of the Planets, Wild Wild Planet, etc.); and the sets suffer from that 'too clean' appearance that usually afflicts historical costume epics. But overall still probably the best pre-2001 SF movie of the 60s and an intriguing look at a different side of Mario Bava, especially for those familiar only with his gothic horror and giallo titles.
As with their other Midnight Movies releases, MGM-UA's DVD package is minimal but of excellent quality. The picture quality of the letterboxed trailer is very good to excellent, if marred somewhat by light-to-moderate speckling and blemishing. French and Spanish subtitles and 16 chapter stops are the only other extras, but the feature itself looks pretty fabulous. The brightness, contrast, and shadow/highlight detail of the 1.85:1 letterboxed source print are excellent throughout. The color by Pathe looks as good as it probably ever did, with rich saturation and reasonably accurate fleshtones. The image is not as razor-sharp as some other similar MGM releases, but more than acceptable. Physical damage is limited to some very light, sporadic speckling. Well worth grabbing for Bava cultists or "silver age" SF aficionados.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Neglected But Highly Influential Film,
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)I've been a fan of Planet of the Vampires for almost 23 years now. As a child I used to watch it with religous fervor any time it was broadcast on television. Over the years Planet...has been treated rather poorly on both VHS (SP and EP Mode) and laserdisc. The results betrayed the true genius of Bava's magic. Such neglect is not found on MGM's fantastic bare-bones DVD. I have never seen Planet of the Vampires look better. I'm not sure how this low budget oddity will fare with "sophisticated" viewers but I would rank this as one of Bava's best. The dialogue is dumb as dirt but the scenery and eerie tension of the film rise above it's low budget constraints. Scenes like the dead rising from their space graves, tearing off the plastic body bags that encase their decaying bodies and the exposure of a dead crewman's skinless chest gave me troubled sleep for many nights as a youngster. I imagine some newcomers will find this film silly but keep in mind Planet...was made in 1965 and has had an amazing influence on (just to name a few) Alien, Night of the Living Dead, and Event Horizon. I'd like to extend my thanks for those involved in putting together this wonderfully priced DVD.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Influential science fiction/horror/suspense film,
This review is from: Planet of the Vampires (DVD)The dialog borders on the absurd; the optical effects aren't up to par even for a 60's science fiction film; the actors frequently give zombies a good name. Yet, despite its major drawbacks, Planet of the Vampires stands as an influential film. When making Alien Ridley Scott took his cue from this imaginative but low budget film. The alien planet, spacecraft and many of the more atmospheric sequences clearly were an influence on Scott's highly praised horror film (it's stretching it to call Alien a science fiction film). It's also clear that POTV had impact on director Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce.
So will you enjoy this movie? That depends on how forgiving you are. Mario Bava's direction and the cinematography are quite imaginative and the atmospheric production design make this a triumph of style over substance. Because this was shot in Rome (with a mixture of American and Italian actors), the acting and dubbing adds an odd quality to the film. Barry Sullivan's frequently detached performance isn't one of his best but given that his director and almost all the crew didn't speak English, It's understandable.
Bava's direction and the inspired production design make this a very influential minor film classic. It's clear seeing the film again after some years, that Bava was trying to create an atmospheric Forbidden Planet and he suceeds for the most part. While Planet of the Vampires lacks the intelligent script and lively performances from that classic film, its imaginative cinematography engage the viewer in a way that FP couldn't. Again, if you can forgive the movie's shortcomings and the minimalist screenplay, you'll enjoy this film.
A couple bits of trivia about the film: the story is basically an atmospheric variation on Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Planet of the Vampires had at least three or four different titles (some of them within the United States itself); Star Trek: The Next Generation borrowed (or it was just one of those ideas in the air)the concept of POTV for an episode entitled Power Play from season 5.
The transfer is crisp and the colors vivid. I haven't seen a print this good since College. The widescreen presentation doesn't provide a huge advantage over the pan & scan version that's floated around for quite some time. This film wasn't shot in an anamorphic format and the aspect ratio is only slightly different than the traditional t.v. aspect ratio.
The mono soundtrack sounds fine although a bit flat (even for a mono soundtrack). It wouldn't have hurt to offer a track that reprocessed it for surround sound or, at least, to have tried to open up the sound a little bit. You won't be listening to the frequently clunky dialog but the soundtrack is interesting. It's clearly inspired by the atonal "effects" music track used for Forbidden Planet.
This Midnite Classic includes the original over-the-top American International Pictures trailer. Curiously, the dialog is only available in English and the subtitles in Spanish and French. Given that it's an Italian production, it would have been interesting to hear the film in its native tongue. There is a problem worth noting--the default setting for subtitles causes the film to automatically show the Spanish subtitles for the film everytime you start the flick. This problem has cropped up with one or two other Midnite releases from MGM. It's not a major problem just annoying.
It's a pity that this bare bones presentation doesn't include an overview by a film historian. It's important to understand the influence that Bava's film had on the 70's and early 80's. Perhaps someone else will license the film (doubtful) and do the job. Planet of the Vampires has a lot of positives and a few negatives as well. While it's not quite as good as it was to an 11 year old 20 plus years later, it's still an inspired bit of film making.
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Planet of the Vampires by Mario Bava (DVD - 2001)