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Planet of the Vampires (1965) - Blu-ray Review

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Planet of the Vampires (1965) - Blu-ray Review

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3 stars

The forefather of Italian Horror Cinema reanimates the dead … in outer space.  Mario Brava’s Planet of the Vampires is not a cinematic masterpiece.  It is; however, one of the most influential of narratives ever produced, introducing some timeless sci-fi tropes and is a must-see for any geek of the cinema.  Based on an Italian language science fiction short story, Renato Pestriniero’s “One Night of 21 Hours”, Planet of the Vampires is what happens when we go answering calls of distress from a previous unknown planet in deep space without proper investigation.  Sound familiar?  It should.  It is the basis for movies like Alien, Aliens, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, and even Species.

Two spaceships – the Argos and Galliot, both searching for the origins of the SOS signal – land (one crashes) on the surface of a bizarre planet and immediately start attacking each other.  Once order is restored, the crew – in their cool black and yellow leather X-Men uniforms (seriously straight out of Singer’s movie)– start exploring the strange planet’s surface for any signs of life.  What they find is a terrifying reality: aliens are possessing the bodies of their fallen crewmembers in a desperate attempt to get off a planet that can no longer sustain their race.  Their destination?  Earth.  That’s right.  The person sitting next to you as you read this might be one of THEM.

Starring Barry Sullivan and Norma Bengell and a handful of other actors all speaking different languages, Planet of the Vampires was far ahead of its time.  It looks and behaves like an episode of Star Trek during its classic original run.  Plastic rocks run amok throughout the production.  Unfortunately, his movie never had the audience nor the financial support to be seen outside of its native country.  Brava compensates for the shortcomings nicely and gives us a sparse set that looks as groovy as it should considering the era.  There’s a nice haze to the planet and an appropriate glow to the background sets as the crew descends their fallen ship and explores the surface of the planet. 

While most of Planet of Vampires is seen through smoke machines and forced perspective techniques, there is an earnestness to the special effects that more than makes up for the lackluster script; lots of dead air in the dialogue as the surviving members of the crew overthink their next move.  A couple of nice scenes – one involving the discovery of ancient ruins with skeletal remains four times the size of humans sitting next to a console of some sort (similar to the Space Jockey alien in Prometheus) – do more to add value to the overall production than the filmmaker’s could have imagined.  I suppose it is the affect here instead of the effect that makes Planet of Vampires an essential part of Science Fiction legend and lore.

Planet of the Vampires, rotting chest flesh and all, rises from its own makeshift grave, making its debut on blu-ray.   Set phasers to stun.  The Trekkies in your life will eat this up.

Planet of the Vampires (1965) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
86 mins
Director
: Mario Brava
Writer:
Mario Brava
Cast:
Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Ángel Aranda
Genre
: Horror | Sci-Fi
Tagline:
A Close Encounter of the UNDEAD Kind.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'll tell you this, if there 'are' any intelligent creatures on this planet... they're our enemies."
Distributor:
American International Pictures (AIP)
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 27, 1965
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 28, 2014
Synopsis: After landing on a mysterious planet, a team of astronauts begin to turn on each other, swayed by the uncertain influence of the planet and its strange inhabitants.

Planet of the Vampires (1965) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 28, 2014
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Kino Lorber/Scorpion Releasing present Planet of the Vampires on blu-ray with a MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer.  The picture simply looks great, with a sharp transfer that (finally) shows off Bava's compositions in their full 1:85 aspect ratio.  Shots that on videotape had characters half-cropped out of frame or made symmetrical compositions look lopsided, are now balanced and complete.  Lots of work has been done to make this film shine on its hi-def debut.  Colors are strong.  Details are clear and black levels are thick.  The moody original score by Gino Marinuzzi Jr. is an electronic jumble of strange sounds and tones and sounds great on its DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 soundtrack.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

None

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