Horror Triple Feature – Alien/It! The Terror from Beyond Space/Planet of the Vampires
Planet of the Vampires (1965): Two ships, the Galliott and the Argos, crash land on unexplored planet Aura after responding to a distress signal. All members of the Argos except for the captain pass out upon atmospheric entry, due to some kind of super gravity event. When they wake up, they are super aggressive and start fighting each other, but the captain snaps them out of it. When they go to find their sister ship, they realize the crew of the Galliot was not so lucky: everyone is dead, having fought amongst themselves. They bury the bodies in plastic underneath big slabs of metal, but that does not stop the Galliot’s crew from rising from the dead. They rise and then wander around the inhospitable, fog-covered planet and scare some people for a while.
The Argos crew goes out to explore a shiny thing they see in the distance, which turns out to be an alien spacecraft with giant skeletons in and around it. They go back to the Argos, and shortly after that two weird guys from the Galliot show up in bad shape and claiming not to know what happened to their ship. They try to sabotage the Argos, and later inform the crew that they are a parasitic species that has taken over these dead bodies because their planet is dying and they need somewhere else to live. hey lured the ships to Aura and would prefer living hosts who agree to have the parasites live within them, instead of stinky dead bodies. The crew of the Argos resists, and the rest of the movie is the struggle between the two sides.
I ended up liking this movie more than I thought I would. (Thanks Ben Nason for the recommendation!) I’m not a huge fan of the director, Mario Bava, but this film worked better for me than some of his others. Visually, it is stunning. The colors are saturated reds and acid greens, and the crazy black leather spacesuits are pretty amazing. The giant skeletons are creepy, and this film has plenty of foggy atmosphere. (The story is okay, but there is not a vampire in sight.) In the beginning, I found myself being more interested in the visual aspects of the story, but I warmed up to the plot after awhile. There are a lot of campy elements—the lady crew members have giant hair that never gets mussed—and that helped keep my interest when the story failed. The parallels to Alien are fewer in this film, but they’re still there. Most striking are the giant skeletons, but the inhospitable planet, response to a mysterious transmission, and a parasitic alien also point to this film being a possible influence on Alien. This is my least favorite of the three movies, but it’s still worth a watch.