Movie Review – Planet of the Vampires (1965)

Planet of the Vampires
Directed by Mario Bava
Courtesy of Cheezy Flicks
Original Year of Release: 1965
DVD Release Date: October 28, 2014

planet of vamp

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is one of those movies I had seen in video stores for decades but never bothered to pick up. The title sounded intriguing, but the fact it was a product of the 60s sorta threw me off. Not that I have anything against that decade, but I was pretty sure the film would not be good. After all, that time period is notorious for corny space flicks and giant creature-features.

Recently, I discovered that the film was directed by Mario Bava, and this drastically changed my perspective. Bava is an icon of the genre, therefore my interest in the film grew exponentially. When I saw the fine folks at Cheezy flicks were promoting it last month, I decided to give it a shot. I’m happy to report the movie met my expectations and, while not perfect, is definitely worthy of watching.

If you are not familiar with PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cheezy Flicks:

In the near future the two spaceships Argos and Galliot are sent to investigate the mysterious planet Aura. As the Galliot lands on the planet her crew suddenly go berserk and attack each each other. The strange event passes, but the crew soon discovers the crashed Argos – and learns that her crew died fighting each other! Investigation further, the explorers come to realize the existence of a race of bodiless aliens that seek to escape from their dying world.

I was surprised to find out the cover art doesn’t depict anything from the film. Meaning, this scene is not in the film, nor are the creatures shown fighting the humans. I have to wonder how many viewers were pulled in by this, only to discover the image was a marketing ploy. This doesn’t detract from the film at all, but I do feel it worth mentioning.

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is shot well, in Bava’s signature style, and looks good overall onscreen. The mattes used as backgrounds look stunning, and many are viscerally realistic. This aspect impressed me greatly, given the age of the film.

The acting is pretty wooden, but it’s not so bad as to seriously detract from the film. I recognized a couple of faces, such as Barry Sullivan and Angel Aranda, but the rest of the cast remains a mystery.

The title is a scad misleading, as the vampires mentioned are only spirits in nature. These creatures overtake hosts and “infect” them. So if you are going to watch this in an attempt to see TWILIGHT in space, you should walk away now. This is hardcore science fiction intertwined with a possession storyline.

But PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is still fun and definitely worth watching. As mentioned, it’s dated, but look past that and enjoy the story. If you can do that, you’ll be entertained.

MSB

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