original title: Terrore Nello Spazio
aka: Planet of Blood, Space Mutants, Terror in Space, The Demon Planet, The Haunted Planet, The Haunted World, The Outlawed Planet, The Planet of Terror, The Planet of the Damned
Director: Mario Bava
Starring: Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Angel Aranda, Evi Marandi, Stelio Candelli
This was the day the universe trembled before the demon forces of the killer planet!
The two spaceships Argos and Galliot are traveling past a planet called Aura and stops when they start to receive signals from the planet. They suspect that there might be some form of life on the planet and decide that it would be a good idea to explore the planet and see if some living presence is there.
When they come close to the planet, a gravitation force pulls them down and most of the crew pass out. When they wake up they are behaving violent towards each other without remembering it when they snap out of it. They start to explore the strange planet, but have no idea what they are about to encounter.
Planet of the Vampires, and its countless other titles is an Italian science fiction film that has gotten some praise in the later years with the rise of respect for Mario Bava in the horror community after his work has been made available in acceptable quality on DVDs and now even on Blu-Rays. Thje film is based on a short story by Renato Pestriniero called One Night of 21 Hours. Mario Bava and sci-fi is actually a match that should have been made in heaven. His clever eye and talent for creating colorful atmosphere should be perfect for a good alien tale.
Planet of the Vampires is not a very fun sci-fi story though and that’s what hurts this film. Even if Bava’s talents can make any dreaded material look great even on a small budget, he isn’t able to cover up the lack of a good plot with just good visuals. At the same time, I would like to say that the final twist was quite a nice touch that I actually missed the first time I saw this.
Mario Bava fans will find plenty of eye candy to enjoy here though and it’s incredibly impressive to see what he was able to create with basically no money. Just the smallest types of effects are done with so much detail, the color schemes make the best out of the Technicolor look and the visual brilliance of this will make you sad that he didn’t do another sci-fi film with a little more money behind it or a better story.
I wish more care was done in creating the characters, cause none of them stand out and they all come off very bland. Modern movie goers will probably get sleepy from the dialogue and the lack of distinction between each character. Even though the film also features two spaceships, it’s actually hard to tell the difference between Argos and Galliot. It should also be noted that even though the most common used English title for the film is Planet of the Vampires, it does not in fact have any vampires and the Terror in Space title is the most accurate one and also the one that is closest to the original Italian title Terrore Nello Spazio.
Planet of the Vampires will be interesting to fans of Mario Bava and 50’s/60’s sci-fi films and is worth to take a peek at. It does however feel a little dated and suffer from bad characters and story, so I wouldn’t have high expectations before pressing play if I was you.