1965’s Planet of the Vampires (also known as Terrore nello spazio) is a low budget horror/sci-fi film starring Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, and Ángel Aranda. Italian director, Mario Bava, helmed this film which is based on Renato Pestriniero’s short story, One Night of 21 Hours.
Planet of the Vampires tells the story of two ships, the Galliot and the Argos, forced to land on an unknown planet. After their crash, the survivors mysteriously turn against one another due to a mysterious force controlling them. When they discover their dead coming back to life, the Captain of the Galliot does everything he can to save his remaining crew, and return them all safely back to Earth.
The acting is what you’d expect from a 1960’s sci-fi film. Overall the cast’s chemistry is good, but nobody really stands out. Well, Norma Bengell is pretty easy on the eyes, so I’d say she stands out. Italian is the film’s original language. The voices are poorly dubbed, but it could be worse…yes 1970s Kung Fu movies. I’m talking to you!
Visually, the film looks great, even with the 50 plus years that have passed. Bava’s use of miniatures, forced perspectives, color and lighting adds tremendously to the mood and feel of the alien world. So much so, some people feel Ridley Scott got some major inspiration for his 1979 Alien film from Planet of the Vampires. There is an awesome scene where the survivors find an alien ship’s wreckage complete with gigantic skeletons—no face huggers here though.
While the film follows most sci-fi tropes, and the plot is basic, the ending has a nice twist I wasn’t expecting, which is nice. The score compliments the movie quite well, but doesn’t overwhelm.
End of the day, this film is a fun watch. With a run time of 88 minutes, the story moves along quite well. The look of this movie is great. The costumes are great. The Italian sci-fi, that’s great too. Go get some popcorn, and watch this one when you can.