Mario Bava's PLANET OF VAMPIRES
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
This bare-bones DVD contains a gorgeous color wide screen version of a 1965 Italian science fiction movie directed by Mario Bava that boasts many scenes eerily reminiscent of images and situations in the later ALIEN movies. What it lacks in story and dialog (often poorly dubbed into English) it makes up for in weird alien landscapes and spooky alien artifacts, including an encounter with giant fossilized alien skeletons.
Also memorable are the vast interiors of the human and alien spacecraft (frequently shot using simple camera tricks to suggest size and scale) that provide a haunting background to the hackneyed possession/zombie/dead-come-back-to-life theme. Added benefits are absolutely terrific leather/latex formfitting costumes unlike any I’ve ever seen before; gorgeous Italian female actresses (with fancy hair - obviously a benefit of space based hair salons!); very interesting toy-like spacecraft models that, if you sort of squint, remind you of the giant alien craft in ALIEN; and finally, neat outer-space-sounding music.
Bottom line, though, is that this is a really creepy movie. Yes, the characters say and do some really stupid things (like, you know the guy they leave outside the alien spacecraft while they search inside is going to disappear) but the color, smoke, music, shadows, and just plain weirdness of the alien landscape do get to you after a while. The scene of the dead crewmen throwing back the covers of their freshly filled graves, for example, is arresting.
Definitely a cut above your average “B” movie, and visually quite interesting.
Copyright (c) 2001 by Dennis D. McDonald