Planet of the Vampires 1965 ****

Mario Bava’s stylish 1965 sci-fi thriller is widely acknowledged a clear inspiration for Alien; with the release of Prometheus, the connections are even more apparent. Barry Sullivan leads an Italian cast as Captain Mark Markary, who finds himself and his crew stranded on an alien planet whose occupants are able to use the crew’s bodies to take over the ship. Bava uses a strikingly organic production design that pre-dates HR Giger, and manages to milk the maximum suspense from a fairly dog-eared idea. Planet of the Vampires has become a cult item; NYC theatre company The Wooster Group even based a show on it, and it’s easy to see why Bava’s film has been so influential; it’s a cornerstone of sci-fi in cinema.


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