Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 7th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Italy / Spain, 1965
Director: Mario Bava
Writers: Mario Bava, Alberto Bevilacqua, Callisto Cosulich, Antonio Román, Rafael J. Salvia
Writers English language version: Louis M. Heyward, Ib Melchior
Cast: Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Ángel Aranda, Evi Marandi, Stelio Candelli
BluRay released: October 28th, 2014
Approximate running times: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: A team of astronauts’ land on a mysterious planet after they receive a distress call from another ship that had already landed there. From there things go awry after they land and crew members become violent towards each other. Fortunately, this violent outburst is contained and the crew proceed to investigate what happen to crew form the other ship. Will they uncover what happen to the crew from the other ship or will the succumb to a similar fate?
Planet of the Vampires was directed by Mario Bava, whose other notable films include, Black Sunday, Black Sunday, Blood and Black Lace, Danger: Diabolik and Rabid Dogs. Key collaborators on Planet of the Vampires include, Antonio Rinaldi (Kill Baby Kill, Five Dolls for an August Moon), composer Gino Marinuzzi Jr. (Hercules and the Captive Women) and special effects / model maker Carlo Rambaldi (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Possession). The screenplay was adapted from Renato Pestriniero’s short story One Night of 21 Hours.
When it comes to Italian cinema science fiction is the one year that far too often misses the mark or when it does work in the case of film’s like Contamination, Beast in Space or Alien 2 On Earth, it is for all the wrong reasons. This brings us too Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires one of the few times that he would ever venture into the science fiction genre. With his only other foray into this genre being the film The Day the Sky Exploded, he was the cinematographer on that film. First and foremost, what sets Planet of the Vampires apart from the majority of Italian science fiction films is the way that Bava infuses the film elements that are usually associated with the Horror genre.
The narrative is well constructed allows each new revelation an ample amount of time to fully resonate before moving to the moment of terror. And though the characters are not much more than mere props in the grander scheme of things. This ultimately proves not to be a problem since this film greatest strength is its atmospheric visuals. With some of the things film most striking moments being the scene where the first corpses rise from their tombs and a scene where the Captain and crew member are trapped on what appears to be an alien spaceship.
As mentioned before the performances are one of this film stronger assets and they are best described as adequate. Notable cast members include, Stelio Candelli (Nude for Satan), Norma Bengell (Hellbenders), Ivan Rassimov (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, Spirits of Death) and Barry Sullivan (Violent Naples) in the role of Captain Mark Markary. Overall Planet of the Vampires is one of those rare examples where a film exceeds the sum of its parts and there is no denying this film’s influence on the science fiction genre. Its influence can be traced to films like Alien.
Planet of the Vampires comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors look nicely saturated and they often look vibrant, black levels are consistently strong and detail look sharp. The source used for this transfer Is in great shape and there are no issues with DNR or compression. When compared to previous home video release, this release is superior in every way.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English. The audio sounds, clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include, a stills gallery, the original Italian opening (2 minutes 28 seconds), a trailer for the film (2 minutes 17 seconds), ‘Trailers from Hell’ with filmmaker Joe Dante (3 minutes 47 seconds), ‘Trailers from Hell’ with Josh Olson (2 minutes 28 seconds), author Renato Pestriniero’s original story, alternate music score highlights (20 minutes 31 seconds) and an audio commentary with Mario Bava’s biographer Tim Lucas.
The ‘Trailers from Hell’ segment with Joe Dante is a personal recollection about the first time he saw Planet of the Vampires.
The ‘Trailers from Hell’ segment with Josh Olson provides a brief overview for the cast & crew and other information related to the film.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, special effects and Carlo Rambaldi’s contributions, differences between the American and Italian releases, the cast and background information about them, the look of the film and other production related topics.
Overall Planet of the Vampires gets a solid release from Kino Lorber.
Note: This film is also being released by Kino Lorber on DVD.