“None of this — this madness that has touched some of us — none of this is coincidence; this was planned.”
A team of astronauts land on a mysterious planet whose inhabitants seek to take over their bodies and minds.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Horror Films
- Mario Bava Films
- Mind Control and Hypnosis
- Science Fiction
- Space Exploration
Mario Bava directed this low-budget Gothic sci fi-horror flick, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) (though both Scott and screenwriter Dan O’Bannon claim not to have seen this earlier film before making Alien). As DVD Savant points out in his review, Planet of the Vampires — just one of nine alternate titles considered for the film — “doesn’t have a well-written script or interesting characters”; instead, the action consists primarily of “a repetitive series of fights and disappearances among interchangeable spacemen” (and no, there aren’t any actual vampires). However, as Savant points out, the film’s “appeal lies in director Bava’s creation of an eerie and unsettling alien world that is its own reason for being” — and it’s the stunning visuals that keep one consistently engaged in the story. Indeed, for such a low-budget picture, it’s astonishing how much colorful atmosphere Bava and his creative team manage to pack into each frame of the movie; I couldn’t help myself from snapping still after still as evidence (see below). While it’s ultimately too uneven to be considered any kind of a classic of the genre, Bava fans will most certainly want to check this one out — and all film fanatics should take a one-time look simply due to its cult status.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Wonderfully atmospheric low-budget sets and visual effects (though not necessarily of the spaceships…)
Yes, as a creatively produced and influential cult favorite. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.