Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Angel Aranda, Evi Marandi, Stelio Candelli, Franco Andrei, Fernando Villena, Mario Morales, Ivan Rassimov, Federico Boido, Alberto Cevenini
Written by: Mario Bava, Alberto Bevilacqua, Callisto Cosulich, Antonio Roman, Rafael J. Salvia, based on a story by Renato Pestriniero
Directed by: Mario Bava
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 88
Date: 09/15/1965
IMDB

Planet of the Vampires (1965)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Alien Predecessor

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Mario Bava's sole science fiction film (unless you count Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs) utilizes many of his horror techniques: vivid colors receding into shadows, and frames filled with physical and dramatic obstacles.

A group of astronauts crash-lands on a mysterious planet, and suddenly the crew members go crazy and attack each other. Everyone snaps out of it and begins exploring the strange planet, including wrecked spaceships from years earlier. They discover a race of evil aliens looking to take over the bodies of the dead spacemen and find a new planet to inhabit. Barry Sullivan (Forty Guns) plays the captain.

As usual, the plot and storytelling are fairly ludicrous, and it's mainly Bava's masterful invention behind the camera that makes the film work. His movement and timing provide an atmosphere that clearly wasn't there in the script. Some say that Planet of the Vampires provided the inspiration for many of the ideas and methods used in Ridley Scott's Alien (1979).

MGM released this in 2001 as part of their Midnight Movies DVD series. In 2014, Kino Lorber released an amazing new Blu-ray, anamorphic for the first time, and really showing off this movie's astonishing colors and compositions. The new disc comes with a brand-new Tim Lucas commentary track, as well as a "Trailers from Hell" episode with Joe Dante, a trailer, a stills gallery, the short story, the Italian opening credits, and alternate music score highlights.

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