Planet of the Vampires
aka Terrore nello spazio
Barry Sullivan as Captain Mark Markary
Norma Bengell as Sanya
Ángel Aranda as Wess
Evi Marandi as Tiona
Stelio Candelli as Brad
Franco Andrei as Bert
Fernando Villena as Dr. Karan
Directed by Mario Bava
It’s the future, and man is conquering space! Man is also conquering fashion, and wearing outfits entirely out of leather with gigantic collars. Not just normal giant collars, these collars are popped up, just like those Frat boys you see wandering around town with their polo shirt collars up. If this is the future of fashion, the human race is doomed. The fashion is brought up first and foremost, because this movie has incredible visuals that still hold up forty years later. The visuals inspired countless other science fiction films, some so blatantly you’ll view those classics with a new suspicious look, wondering what other things they ripped off. Director Mario Bava also directed Danger: Diabolik, famous for being the last MST3Ked movie. Now, you’d think Planet of the Vampires would be crawling with vampires. I am afraid I have some bad news for you folks, there are NO vampires in this film. Zero. None, Nada. No Space Vampires, No Salt Vampires, no Turkish Ripoffs of Salt Vampires. We do have aliens, and animated dead bodies controlled by the aliens, so the correct term would be either Planet of the Zombies or Planet of the Ghosts who Possess People. Another correct term would be the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation named Power Play. I don’t want to say Star Trek ripped this movie off, but with the many other things blatantly stolen from this film, it would be unsurprising that Trek went with the flow.
Orbiting the mysterious planet is the ship Argos, and a little further back, their sister ship Gallant. The Argos should have been named Goofus, that’s all I’m saying about the names here. Captain of the Argos Mark Markary is impressed there is a signal coming from the mysterious planet Aura like he said there was, which seems to prove his theory that they is a planet there. He chats with his brother on the Gallant, but then some sort of interference jams the transmission, and their ship starts to plummet to the planet’s surface. Everyone passes out except for Markary, who barely is able to bring the ship down. As soon as they land, the shipmates begin reviving, and then beating the snot out of each other! Since the only way to beat some since into these people is to beat it into them, Markary starts fighting back, which seems to get some of the crew back to their senses. Dr. Karan manages to run outside without his suit before he is caught, but he does establish that you can breathe outside without said suit. As a trademark of vampires is random people fighting for no reason, of course we must suspect them.
The Gallant is calling for help on the radio, but the crew cannot answer. They find the ship landed a small bit away, and send a team to go search. As this is old school sci-fi, the Captain leads the team instead of sending Number One to go. The Gallant managed to park on the other side of a lava field (that sounds like something Goofus would do!) and our heroes must be careful when they go over, or else they will fall through the thin layer of solid ground. It is too late when they reach the ship, everyone is dead, having killed each other while fighting. The ship’s bridge is locked, but they can bury the three bodies outside. In the Future, when you are buried, it’s in a hole that is not filled in, you are wrapped in plastic, and the top of the hole is covered with a sheet of metal. One of the crew is left to guard the empty ship as the Captain and the rest return to get a cutting torch to get inside. This guy, Elden, is obviously dead meat. Say goodbye, Elden!
The Captain and the rest return to find Elden has vanished, and so has all the bodies onboard the Gallant! Dead people just don’t get up and walk away, except on this planet, it seems. Captain has put Token Female Officer Tiona on guard duty, and she is scared by the fog and begins screaming, which gives everyone the excuse they need to run away. The Argos should stop showing the movie The Fog during recreation time. The three bodies buried get up and push open their lids. These “Vampires” are seeming to be Zombies now, but they shall thirst for neither brains nor blood. They want the whole package, see, as will be told later. Back at the Argos, the post guards outside, because the concept of shutting the door of the spaceship and looking outside the windows is difficult. This also gives opportunity for one guard named Bert to be killed by the Captain of the other ship, even though the other Captain is dead. This guard is brought back onboard, but as he is not quite dead yet, he gets up and wanders around a few times before scaring one of the Token Female Officers. Eventually, he’s buried like the rest, underneath a piece of sheet metal.
Now for the scene that Ridley Scott saw and used in a little film he called Alien. Captain Markary and Token Female Officer Sanya find a ship that belonged to a long dead race of big aliens, who are now giant skeletons. After some danger inside the ship, they manage to get out. They also brought a guard guy along with them named Carter, but Carter has now vanished. Why are these people still letting guards stand around by themselves? It’s obviously not working, change your strategies!
Two members of the Gallant‘s crew return to the Argos saying they got off the ship before everyone died and woke up in the wild. They also act weird, and it would take a bunch of morons to let them onboard their ship. The crew of the Argos lets them on their ship. Outside, they look in Bert’s grave, only to find it empty. Inside, the two weird guys have stolen the Meteor Deflector off of the Argos. This is important because without the deflector, the meteors of space would destroy the ship. The ship has only one meteor deflector, and no back up or spare parts, and the Gallant‘s Deflector was damaged. Why something so critical is so neglected, non-redundant, and easily stolen by bumbling possessed dead people is a Mystery of Space that will never be solved. One of the Weird Guys tells the crew the story of the aliens who are possessing him, and how they want to get off their planet and possess other people. The humans don’t like this idea much, and Captain Mark goes to blow up the Gallant.
Did I tell you all the possessed people were gathering on the Gallant and preparing to take it into space? Neither did the movie, yet it’s what’s going on! At least, until Captain Mark and Token Female Officer Sanya set some bombs, grab the Meteor Deflector, and run for their lives. Hordes of Zombie Troops with Lasers follow, shooting. Some of the Argos‘s crew returns fire, and soon everyone is dead except for Captain Mark, Token Female Officer Sanya, and some guy I think is Wess or something. Oh, and though the dead people were already dead, now they are dead dead. The Argos takes off, and they install the Meteor Deflector. The End.
Not quite, it’s time for this movie to go all Twilight Zone! Captain Mark and Token Female Officer Sanya are really possessed. Wess finds out, and instead of doing anything, they let him destroy the Meteor Deflector. No wonder their stupid civilization was dying, they are a bunch of unmotivated bums. The device is destroyed, so they must land on this nearby planet. Planet Earth. Planet Earth in 1965. Yeah, it’s that predictable and yet that disappointing. Yeah.
This film has one thing going for it: It’s visuals. They are amazing. They whole movie is futuristic looking, just like each scene is a 1950’s sci-fi painting, yet live action. Several visuals look amazingly like things from later science fiction films. It’s easy to see how this inspired so many films, as much of the sci-fi from this time was low budget cheap garbage, it’s refreshing to see cheap garbage that looks good. To bad the rest of it wasn’t good, full of logic problems, and there wasn’t a single vampire. Not one. All I wanted was a space vampire, is that too much to ask?
Rated 6/10 (In the Alien ship, Mystery Lights, I don’t know what this is but they focused on it in the beginning like it was important but just forgot about it, Collar’s Higher than an Elephant’s Eyes, Patrol, A Cloud Free Day on Earth)
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