Italian film (1965; vt Planet of the Vampires). Italian International/Castilla Cinematografica/American International Pictures (AIP). Directed by Mario Bava. Written by (English) Louis M Heyward, Ib Melchior; (Italian) Callisto Cosulich, Antonio Roman, Alberto Bevilacqua, Bava, Rafael J Salvia; based on a story by Melchior, based in turn on an Italian story by Renato Pestriniero. Cast includes Angel Aranda, Norma Bengell, Evi Morandi and Barry Sullivan. 86 minutes. Colour.
This Italian/Spanish/US coproduction was directed by Mario Bava (1914-1980), whose baroque, erotic and sometimes sadomasochistic Horror films won him a cult following; he also directed Diabolik (1967). He was once a notable cameraman, and this sf/horror film, with its constant Gothic effects (see Gothic SF), is visually intense. Astronauts from two ships, the Galliot and the significantly named Argos, land on the planet Aura and immediately and inexplicably start killing each other in this strange Hades-like landscape. Three corpses are buried but, in a striking sequence, rise from the grave, still shrouded in polythene. It turns out they are possessed by survivors of the native Alien species, desperate to leave their dying planet. The discovery of an ancient, alien Spaceship on the surface, occupied by the giant skeleton of an earlier victim of the Aurans, was echoed with some fidelity in the later film Alien (1979); both films are identifiably Lovecraftian (see H P Lovecraft) in their evocations of evil forces prior to Homo sapiens. Two possessed astronauts and the still-human Captain Markary (Sullivan) eventually escape on the Argos to return to Earth, where the pickings will be rich; but the last man still unpossessed blows up the ship. The florid, dreamlike atmospherics of Terrore Nello Spazio almost make up for the silliness of the story. Originally to be shot simultaneously in Italian and US versions, with pages of script delivered only on the day, it must have presented a challenge to even Bava's celebrated inventiveness. [PN/JC]
see also: Cinema; Monster Movies; Paranoia.
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