PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965) Reviewed by Steve Kirkham

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    PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965)

    4 stars
    Radiance Films. Limited Edition Blu Ray. 27th May
    PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES is something of a misnomer, as there are no vampires in the movie! Known as TERRORE NELLO SPAZIO in it’s native Italy, it has had numerous alternate titles over the years including Planet of Blood, Space Mutants, The Haunted Planet, The Haunted World, The Outlawed Planet, The Planet of Terror and Planet of the Damned.
    The ship Argos, captained by Mark Markary (Barry Sullivan) makes a forced landing on the alien planet Aura following a distress call. For some reason the crew start attacking each other but are eventually snapped out of it. They then try to locate their sister ship Galliott and must set off across the strange landscape to try and rescue the stranded crew. They find them dead – having seemingly attacked each other in the same manner they had earlier. But soon things get creepy when the bodies rise from the dead…
    One of several films that are cited as being influential on ALIEN – though Ridley Scott claims he has never seen it. This was an unusual dip into science fiction for visionary director Mario Bava, better known for his horror movies. With clever use of what was clearly a limited budget, this is a stylish, very 60s film, with its groovy leather clad space adventurers and funky use of colour. Bava was the king of being able to eke out the money he had to hand with clever use of lighting – and in this instance copious amounts of fog to cover the studio floor and the placement of several rocks to indicate the world in which they have landed.
    Based on the pulp sf short story “One Night of 21 Hours” by Renato Pestriniero this Blu ray presents both the English language version and the original Italian. The presentation looks fantastic with rich colours and sharp picture showing off the 4K restoration from the original 35mm negative – which was supervised by Lamberto Bava, son of Mario (he worked as an assistant director on the production).
    Interestingly the Italian version credits the script to Ib Melchior, Alberto Bevilacqua, Callisto Cosulich, Mario Bava, Antonio Roman and Rafael J. Salva whereas the English version just cites Ib Melchior alongside Louis B. Heyward.
    Steve Kirkham
    EXTRAS
    4 stars
    Archival Commentary from 2014 by Bava expert Tim Lucas
    Transmissions from a Haunted World (41 mins) – A comprehensive new documentary which explores Planet of the Vampires, with a good career overview of Mario Bava and his films. Includes interviews with Guy Adams, Xavier Aldana Reyes, Alexandra Benedict, Johnny Mains and John Llewellyn Probert (did I spy a copy of a book I designed, The Peter Cushing Scrapbook on his shelves?)
    Archival interview with Lamberto Bava discussing the film as he worked on it as third assistant director (13 mins)
    Super 8 Version – a reconstruction of the German Super 8 cut down version – as Planet der Vampire (17 mins)
    Joe Dante (4 mins) and Josh Olsen (2 mins) trailer commentaries – from Trailers From Hell
    Trailer
    Press and image gallery from the Tim Lucas / Alan Y. Upchurch collection
    Plus you get Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow
    Limited edition 80-page book featuring new writing by Kyle Anderson, Martyn Conterio, Barry Forshaw, George Daniel Lea and Jerome Reuter
    Limited edition 20-page booklet featuring a new translation of Renato Pestriniero’s original short story
    A collection of six exclusive postcards featuring promotional material
    Limited edition of 5000 copies

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