"This was the day the universe trembled before the demon forces of the killer planet!"

Planet of The Vampires (1965)

Also known as
Terrore nello spazio (original title)

Planet of The Vampires (1965)

Barry Sullivan as Capt. Mark Markary
Norma Bengell as Sanya
Ángel Aranda as Wess
Evi Marandi as Tiona

Directed by
Mario Bava

Running Time: 86mins





















Review and Summary

Just because it was made in 1965 in Italy and Spain, doesn’t mean its as cheesy as it sounds… well then again yes it is extremely cheesy. But that doesn’t mean its all that bad. I never really figured out why I liked this movie for all these years until just recently. Its fun and it does have a fairly decent if not standard story too it. Sure there are a lot of other things that make this some good Saturday night fun, and definitely MST3K fodder, but there are some core pieces here that any Sci-Fi fan would clearly recognize as some of the foundations of Science Fiction Stories even today.

So let’s start off with the primary goal here, the 2 starships are responding to a signal on another planet that they have been receiving for years. So they decided to send a mission to investigate. Its taken a good bit of time to get there.

As they near the planet, and are making preparations to land, suddenly our heroes lose contact with the other ship. Not to mention that now the signal that has been there for years disappears as well. Add to it that suddenly they are attacked and pulled to the planet.

Now this is where we start getting into the Cheesy Technobabble. Now there is technobabble and then there is Cheesy Technobabble. Star Trek, Babylon 5, Dr Who all examples of Technobabble. But what we have here is Cheesy Technobabble. Velvetta, Sargento, Land O Lakes cheesy Technobabble. Believe me, it goes way overboard. But its bearable. My favorite is the Meteor Rejector. Not a Meteor Deflector, but a Rejector. This whole thing was first done in Italian and then dubbed. So Im fairly sure somewhere in the mix is where we get Rejector from Deflector.

Anywho.. The captain comes thru and saves the ship from disaster by flipping a bunch of switches and they successfully land. No sooner is this done then everyone is at each other’s throats for no reason. It takes some control, but finally they get themselves straightened out. Unfortunately they soon find out that they are in a bad state with a intact ship, but no power to fly. Really should have paid for that galactic AAA service guys.

While they try to figure out what they can do to effect repairs, the fog lifts and they can see their sister ship a short distance from them. A search party soon sets out for it to assess what’s happened to the other crew. Once they get there they see that the other crew wasn’t successful in stopping themselves from ripping each other apart.

So they setup a burial detail and dig 16” deep graves and wrap the bodies in plastic, then cover them with steel plates. And did I mention the fancy Art Nouveau headstones or metals? Anyway, they seem to have everything taken care of and make their way back to their ship.

Long story short, we have all the needed pieces to start into more of a Zombie movie here than a Vampire movie. No blood sucking, no fangs, no garlic. But its heavy on the gory messed up Night of the Living Dead kind of makeup effects. So I’m at a loss as to how Vampires fit in here. But I’m going with it. On another note, the makeup effects are pretty fair I give them credit, kind of dry, but its decent overall.
I’m going to get back to the Zombie Theatrics in a few minutes, in the meantime remember that Signal? You know the one that they have been tracking for years and may mean life, yeah that one. Well they notice something shiny in the valley down from where they landed. Personally I would call it not so shiny as much as the Rusty red Hunk-O-Metal you can see in a land of stone spires.

When they land, the cloud cover is very thick. They make a point of talking about it when they first are in orbit. And it plays out well. However, when you scale it in with the model and the landing, it looks like the cloud cover is a solid sheet about 50ft off the ground. The landscape is a mix of stone spires and bubbling mud pits with Christmas-like-mood lighting going on. It’s not too bad, I got the impression of a really cheap LV426.

So now while some of the crew is going “Scotty” on rebuilding the ships systems, we get a change in uniform, from tight black leather with pinstripe, to Penal Colony Orange with gray pocket patches. The Captain, his leading lady and the redshirt #5 head off to explore the “shiny” object.

So we have a mysterious signal, a crashed ship, and some exploring to do. Sounds familiar huh? Hold onto that thought. Once they reach the hulk, they come around the bend only to find skeletons of the hulks crew. Now the best way to describe them is that they probably stood about 18ft tall, and their legs would have been the size of a telephone pole. Not to mention their skulls are freaking enormous.

Out of all that we get the captains comment that they look to be “3 times” our size. Ok I’m just attributing this to the typical complex for some males to over compensate in certain instances. And this boy was way over compensating. It couldn’t possibly be because he had his hot Italian leading lady with him at his side. Yeah, there’s a tiny bit of discrepancy here.

So with hot Italian leading lady at his side, he of course asks redshirt #5 to stay outside and keep a look out while they go inside. And humorously tells him, “Oh if he moves, don’t shoot, just call us”.  Right, thank you sir for your levity in the face of my impending doom (signed Redshirt #5)!

So inside they go, which really looks like a tunnel with about 5 sets of hurdles for thresholds built in. Finally they come to what may be a control room, with yet another set of skeletons around the console. They bump into the console and suddenly we are treated to the good old “78 running at 33 speed” (If you know what vinyl records are) voice detailing what’s going on in an alien and indecipherable language. They can’t decipher it, so they go about looking around.

They find an Alien Joy Buzzer, and play with it, even though it’s hitting them with like 200volts of juice. Next we get the doors shutting, and the air in the room being sucked out. Our hero Captain figures out the joy buzzer is the key, and with great difficulty carries it to the door and uses it to unlock it and escape. One little detail, if you’re getting your arse shocked like that, I don’t really think you’re going to show that much coordination. Funny but that’s just what I think.

So now that we have had this brief interlude and they have escaped. We come to find that, yes redshirt #5 has indeed met his obligation of being total fluff. So they figure he went back to get help and head on back to their ship. Once there they learn of course he never came back.. SURPRISE!

So now lets wrap this up since we have all the pieces on the table. The ship is working, however, they because of compassion they allow a pair of the Vampires (or Zombies) into the ship and they gain access to that Meteor Rejector and scamper off with it back to the other ship. Imagine that for the height of tension setting.

So the captain and his crew set out with Nuclear Detonators (image 3 alarm clocks with a blob of play dough attached to them and you got it.). They are off to collect their Meteor Rejector and get back to the ship to leave. Mind you they leave “Scotty Junior” back to finish the work on the ship.

In short order, they make it in and wire up the Nuclear Detonators to the ship. Along the way they find out that the only way to win against the Vampires/Zombies in a fight is to maim them, yeah that’s right, pop a cap or a fiery laser shot to the knees. Just a side note, whoever had the homework to create the “Laser Rifles” obviously spent the money and time on the horses because it’s really nothing more than a stick and few chunks of wood and wire, with a 6inch flame that shoots out and curls upward when fired.

Very lame.

Needless to say, the final dash is back thru the mud pits and rock spires to the ship. With one really ridiculous fall by our hot italian leading lady. As she is laying there and staring in terror at a mud pit she might fall into, that appears to be all of 5 inches in size. As they make it back to the ship, only the Captain and his hot Italian leading lady make it into the ship. And low and behold, “Scotty” has it fixed and they launch, leaving the Vampires/Zombies behind.

To tie up loose ends, they install the Meteor Rejector as they reach orbit and head on home. The captain being the great guy he is, he sends “Scotty” off to get some sleep. But then “Scotty” thinks someone is trying to kill him and goes to the hot Italian leading lady to enlist her help. You see out of 18 people only the 3 of them survived.

“Scotty” rule number one is, you’re wearing a red shirt dude. Number two, she and the captain have been together all along. Com’on man!

So we learn that the Vampires are more of an energy form and have taken over the dead bodies, and at some point have also gotten to the Captain and his leading lady, by the way did I mention she was Italian? So our last redshirt does what he can to stop them, he of course bashes in the needed Meteor Rejector. Saving the day and dying in the process. Or he thinks.

However, we end the story learning that they instead make their way to a nearby planet, and its sun is called Sol. Yeah that’s right, they are going to Earth.

Over all Planet of the Vampires is a good flick. It has a lot of the same elements that we see used time and time again overall. Sure its cheesy, sure its all dubbed, and the body language gestures overdo it. But all in all your gonna like it.


If you liked any of these movies/TV shows you will like this movie.
     It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)
     Alien (1979)
     The Thing (1982)
     Pandorum (2009)
     The Twilight Zone (TV 1959, 1985, 2002)
     The Outer Limits (TV 1963, 1985, 1995)


If you want to add this movie to your collection as well
     here are some places you can find it..

          Amazon.com Instant Video

          Amazon.com DVD

Listen to my review online here or download it!

Willys Vaults Ratings
"Bug Eyed Monster"
5 out of 10

     I give them a 5 for the creature design. I found the concept pretty fair, they didn't
     push the envelope in any way, but they kept it in tone for the horror element.

I See The Wires"
7 out of 10

     I gave them a 7 in the Wires category. The Ship effects were as hokey as hokey
     could get. I would have given them a 10 if it weren't for the oversized landing gear.

"Man In Rubber Suit"
5 out of 10

     I give them a 5 in this department. Our only alien in the whole 86mins were the 2
     skeletons seen in the other crashed ship. Somewhat reminiscent of 1979’s Alien
     “Space Jockey” scene in the belly of the crashed alien ship.

"Oozing Mess"
7 out of 10

     I give them a 7 in the Oozing Mess category. There wasn't so much oozing as there
     was gore and fleshy-bloody appliances spread throughout. It well done.

"Cheesy Acting"
9 out of 10

     I give it a 9 on the Cheesy scale. Typically this is a big factor in these movies, and
     they deliver. I'm not sure what was more a factor the leather tailoring or the fact that
     it was a toss up on who was lip syncing and who wasn't. This Movie can stand as a
     hallmark and shinning example of the Cheesy Acting measure.

Total Summary
33 out of 50

     Overall Planet of the Vampires gets a 33. It’s a good flick, its a bit slow at times, but
     between the chicks in leather, the funky effects, and the gore factor, and its
     entertaining. I recommend it for a change of pace.

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