• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Planet Of The Vampires

TITLE: Planet Of The Vampires

YEAR: 1965

GENRE: Science Fiction and Horror

Most nerd movie fans are not aware of this fact, but from the 1940 up until the late 1980’s Italy was a major hub for low-budget films that appeal to the nerd demographic. The most famous genres created in Italy during that time was the spaghetti western, but there were quite a few sword and sandal productions as well as horror films. One of the most well known of the Italian directors and one of the very best low budget directors of all time would be Mario Bava, who directed such B-rated classics as Danger: Diabolik, The Whip And The Body, and Lisa And The Devil. One of his most well known and often copies pieces of work was Planet Of The Vampires, an influential science fiction story with some suspenseful writing and great atmospheric cinematography.

Captain Mark Markary (played by Barry Sullivan) and his crew start to investigate a missing spaceship from his crew that leads a small group of space explorers to a distant planet. Upon discovering the lost crew Captain Markary makes a gruesome discovery: the missing crew had been slaughtered, and it appears that they turned upon each other for some unknown reason. As the space crew explores the planet, many of them start to act crazed and commit acts of violence against each other and their ship. The captain and communications officer Sanya (Norma Bengell) discover another vessel filled with giant alien corpses and the answer to why his crew is going stir crazy: the planet is inhabited by an invisible force that is working to possess each of the space explorers so that they can escape the planet to move on to a more hospitable environment. The aliens are even possessing the dead crew members, so the surviving crew members now must battle the aliens as well as their departed friends in their effort to survive.

The best aspect of most of Bava’s work is that he understood that a low budget film required a great storyline to compensate for its visual short comings, and Planet Of The Vampires delivers a quality sci-fi adventure that delivered the scares. This story was very progressive for the time frame as the aliens were not the usual guy in a rubber suit but rather invisible entities that occasionally were seen as bright colored lights, which was quite effective. The suspense level in Planet Of The Vampires is a fever pitch at times and builds to a satisfying conclusion and a better than average twist ending that is unexpected. The interior of the spaceships look pretty good considering the time of the film’s release, although the model work would have looked much better in 1950 than the mid 60’s. The gore make-up was pretty standard looking for B-grade films of today yet was probably shocking considering that overt bloodshed in movies was fairly new at the time (the first overtly bloody film, Blood Feast, came out just two years before Planet Of The Vampires). The space suits were mostly pleather body suits that look especially good on Bengell and other female cast members that add an element of exploitation to the finished product.

While Ridley Scott would never admit it, many other production members stated that Planet Of The Vampires was a major influence in the creation of the 1979 sci-fi/horror classic Alien. Although not one of Bava’s best work, Planet Of The Vampires is an important and influential part of 1960’s science fiction that influenced one of the greatest genre series of all time. Fans of older scary sci-fi will find Planet Of The Vampires a fun and entertaining project that is a great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

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