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4.3 out of 5 stars
Planet of the Vampires [Blu-ray]
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
I was first introduced to the Planet of the Vampires several years ago when it came out on a Midnite Movie DVD. I was expecting a really cheesy film like most of the sci-fi produced during that era. As I watched it, I was amazed at the similarities between it and one of my favorite sic-fi horror titles. From the "U" shaped spaceship, to the call from an alien planet, to the way the exhaust from the landing spaceship pluming up around the ship. If you haven't guessed, I'm talking about Ridley Scott's original classic, "Alien". Even the design of the planet's surface is similar. Now, I'm not saying that Ridley Scott completely copied this film, but it is evident that it served as an inspiration. After all, while the images may be alike, the stories are quite different. Actually, Scott claims to have never seen this film. If you're simply expecting a good cheesy sic-fi horror flick, you may be pleasantly surprised as I was to find that it's actually quite a good film. Aside from getting a really good film with this package, you also get a big upgrade from the DVD. The picture is amazingly sharp and clear. Considering this is not a major title, I was quite surprised to find a good handful of extras on this new HD release. You get an audio commentary, some trailers, two short features titled Trailers from Hell with Joe Dante and one with Josh Olson. While these are only about 3 min. each, there is a lot of information packed into them. There is also a still gallery, alternate music opening highlights, original Italian opening credit, and the entire original shorty story by Renato Pestriniero. With all of these features, it is now clear why the price is a little higher than I originally expected when I first heard this gem was coming to Blu-ray. If you've never seen this movie before, and you like a good creepy, atmospheric film, I would suggest you check it out. If you have the old DVD, then I suggest you use it as a coaster and invest in this upgrade. If you're a fan of the film, you definitely will not be disappointed.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2014
I am relieved! I was afraid that Kino, in an effort to appeal to a contemporary audience, might tamper with Bava's original color pallet (as they did with their blu ray release of "The Whip And The Body"). Too many blu ray releases of older films are given a darker, dingier look by applying a teal-colored tint (compare the dvd and blu releases of "All The President's Men"). They often mute the intended vibrant colors because they think the original look of a film is dated and doesn't conform with current tastes. Thankfully they did not do that here. The film looks FANTASTIC! The bright colors pop and they never bleed into one-another. GREAT!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2014
Just finished watching "Planet Of The Vampires" released by American International.
Director Mario Bava is perhaps one of the most overlooked movie directors of the 1960s. I will freely admit that when "Planet Of The Vampires" first popped up on my reccomendation list at Amazon.com, I was more than a bit skeptical - which my dear sister and devoted minions will be shocked to learn, because as Jeff H.; a.k.a. Minion #2 is always fond of saying: "Come on Joseph, if it's says 'cult following,' in the liner notes, I know its going to be in your collection sooner or later."
Lurid title aside, "Planet Of The Vampires" is perhpas one of the best low budget science fiction films from the 1960s that I've seen to date.
Based on the short story "One Night of 21 Hours" by Renato Pestriniero - which is included in the DVD extras - "Planet Of The Vampires" starts out as a simple story of two interstellar ships out on a two year voyage from their home planet in answer to a distant distress signal scientists picked up. Their arrival at the planet ends in disaster as one of the ships crash killing all the crew aboard and the crew of the remaining ship survives a rough landing at 40gs only to go momentarily insane and attempt to kill each other..
The crew snaps out of their blood lust and slowly come to realize that they are not alone on this alien world - despite the sudden absence of the signal that brought them there.
Exploration of the surrounding landscape reveals another crashed ship of an unknown alien species. Now here is where "Planet Of The Vampires" gets really interesting. Ridley Scott has denied that he has seen this movie, but there are unmistakable parallels between this movie and the Alien Movies - especailly with the skeletons of giant aliens at their ship controls.
Bava builds steadily towards a horrifying climax - it's nerve wracking when you watch and listen as the captain records in the ship's log that he is scared but that he is trying to put on a brave front for his crew.
As for the "vampires" - that's a little misleading...they are more of the mind parasite variety than the blood sucking ones.
Looking at the movie with a 21st century prospective, I was stunned that Bava envisioned form fitting space suits that allowed his astronaut explorers to function in a variety of environments - much like the exo-suits being created and made today for the next generation of astronauts.
Also interesting in this movie is that the two female crewmembers are pilots and engineers - not typical roles for women in 1960s space movies.
"Planet Of The Vampires" is a brillantly effective piece of science fiction horror that is engrossing and a bit unnerving to watch as it unfolds. It pushes all the right buttons with a minimum of gore and special effects..
STRONGLY RECOMMENDED!
FIVE STARS!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 26, 2014
This review is mainly for fans of the movie who want to know how the Kino Blu-ray release compares to previous DVD versions. I've had the MGM Midnite Movies DVD for many years, and have watched it several times. Although I did not do a back-to-back comparison, I am familiar enough with the DVD to say that the Blu-ray transfer is only a slight improvement. The increased resolution is notable in the close-ups of the actors, but really kind of lost in the already-murky dark scenes on the planet surface. Don't get me wrong; the atmosphere of those scenes is generally quite creepy, and I wouldn't want to see TOO much and ruin the mood. But I did expect them to be a little clearer.

The best thing about this release may be the commentary track by Tim Lucas, well-known to genre fans as the publisher of "Video Watchdog." His knowledge of the film and how it was made is very impressive. After listening to his stories, one wonders that the film ever got made at all, as the production was plagued with obstacles.

There's also the short story upon which the film was based, but I have to confess I got bored rather quickly with the amateurish writing style. You also get the film's fun (but not restored at all) theatrical trailer, and a couple of too-brief interviews with Joe Dante and some other guy with whom I was not familiar. Dante comes across as a real fan of both director Mario Bava and the film itself, so it would have been nice to have maybe a "making of" featurette with Dante as the host.

If you don't already have Planet of the Vampires on DVD, the Blu-ray is definitely the way to go. And if you're a fan, you'll probably want it for the extras. I will say again that Tim Lucas' commentary is incredibly insightful, and made this worth the purchase for me. But I still think the picture quality could have been improved more, so it's 4 stars from me.
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on January 18, 2015
Very good Mario Bava directed 60's Italian-Spanish made sci-fi thriller. Has some similarities to the decade-plus later film Alien. A spaceship lands on a creepy misty planet in search of a sister ship that has crash-landed there. Once there some of the astronauts start acting violent towards their fellow 'nauts until they are shaken out of their murderous daze. They find the crew of the downed ship dead, but then the dead seemingly start coming back to life. The rescue crew find an alien ship and the skeletal remains of that crew and realize the spirits of the aliens are taking over the human dead. The scenes on the alien planet are kind of spooky and the color is beautiful. I've seen both the Midnite Movies and the Kino Lorber DVD releases. The Midnite Movies version is very good, but the Kino version is excellent and is the one to get. Highly recommended.
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Fantastic transfer on this Blu Ray, the older MGM Midnite Movies dvd release wasn't anamorphic so this is a welcome upgrade. For those who haven't seen this, this is a great sci fi flick with tons of atmosphere and a great sense of art design for the costumes and the sets. There's an obvious stylistic influence here to the Alien series. This is a slow burn kind of film, but that just builds tension. If the world was a fairer place, this would be on the great retro sci fi list alongside Forbidden Planet and War of the Worlds. The strangest thing about the whole experience is the title. There isn't a vampire in the whole flick. I guess the Italian title was Terror In Space, which is far more appropriate. Pick it up if you're a retro sci fi fan or wondered what else Bava did besides the gaillo flicks he's famous for. You won't be disappointed.
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on December 19, 2014
I already own this fillm on the Midnite series of films from MGM. Had to get the bluray just for the upgrade of a favorite film that I enjoyed in child hood and still view today. Bava really knew how to be creative in his filmmaking, This is a fine example of a movie made on a tight budget yet years later it is still colledted and debated by fans old and new.
Anyone who is into the Alien film franchise will want this film. This film was such an influence on the later film that it is in my opinion undeniable.
The transfer on the blueray is clean and audio good. Tim Lucas does a wonderful commentary on the film.
Bava fans and many more will get a treat watching this film.
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on December 28, 2014
Mario Bava films haven't fared too well stateside on blu ray. The Whip and The Body was over saturated in blue. Black Sabbath (US cut) had to be scuttled and the rest were only a marginal upgrade over dvd. But here we have a wonderful presentation of the colorful Planet Of The Vampires worthy of a blu ray release. The colors are vivid and it probably couldn't look any better than it does. This is loaded with extras including a nice commentary by Bava expert Tim Lucas. So if you are a Bava fan you can toss your old non anamorphic dvd out (or better yet give it to a fiend) and enjoy this little gem.
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on February 2, 2015
Truly wonderful release, HD and colors on this Blu Ray are unbelievable. A visual feast. Also includes the short story by Renato Pestriniero, 'One Night of 21 Hours' so it is a perfect bonus feature for those of us obsessed with every nuance of how 'Alien' came into being. The story is well worth the years of searching, very creepy. And that's all I'm saying.
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on May 27, 2015
Classic Bava that looks fantastic on blu-ray. The Tim Lucas commentary is worth the price alone. He is the foremost Bava scholar and it's a great listen. If you are unfamiliar with Bava this is probably the best one to see how he worked his visual SFX magic on a shoestring budget.
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