Out Of The Past provides a look back at important film-related events that occurred on this date.
September 15, 1965: Planet Of The Vampires released
Italian director Mario Bava’s career often pitted innovation against budgetary constraints, seldom with more striking results than his 1965 film Planet Of The Vampires (a.k.a. Terror In Space, The Planet Of Terror, Planet Of Blood, and countless other names). Required to create another world with very little money, Bava opted to shroud his set in fog and shadows, creating an eerie atmosphere by hiding rather than showing. Though a world removed from Earth, it wasn’t worlds removed from the films that first made Bava famous, at least among those following the ’60s drive-in and grindhouse circuits and enjoyed chillers like Black Sunday and the confusingly similarly titled Black Sabbath. (The latter later to lend its name to an English rock band looking for an easy way to telegraph its doom-laden sound.)
There are no vampires in Planet Of The Vampires, just possessed, zombie-like crew members. There is, however, a derelict alien ship, an atmosphere of paranoia, and all that fog, elements that would later make an appearance in the 1979 film Alien, which owes a debt to Bava. But even if Planet Of The Vampires had not proven so influential, it would still be an entertaining film in its own right, one that mixes creaky B-movie elements like a grab-bag international cast—Barry Sullivan is the “big” Hollywood name—and inane dialogue with Bava’s florid style and the stuff of out-there nightmares.