Archive for Planet of the Vampires

Robinson in Space

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2015 by dcairns

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ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, directed by sci-fi old hand Byron Haskin, is a movie I should really have seen as a kid, but I only just saw it now. Fiona kept insisting that we had watched it already, but that she wanted to see it again, only the second of which was true, apart from the “again” part. I may sometimes entirely forget the details of a film I’ve seen, but I’m generally right about what I’ve seen and what I haven’t.

Fiona likes monkeys. I like them too. Maybe I should say Fiona loves monkeys. So as far as we were concerned, Mona the monkey, billed only as “the woolly monkey” — to protest sensitive young minds to the fact that Mona was played by Barney — a monkey in drag, the obscenity! — was the star of the show.

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Fiona read up on the movie beforehand and was able to point out that when Man Friday is being agonized by his electric slave bangle, Barney/Mona started spontaneously copying actor Victor Lundin’s writhings.

Barney being so charismatic and so adorable in his spacesuit is kind of unfair to Paul Mantee, who holds the film together with a really committed and credible performance. I don’t really believe Mantee knew what oxygen starvation is like, necessarily, but I certainly believe he chose a way to play it which is compelling and disturbing. I do wish Haskin hadn’t introduced him hanging upside down, pretending it’s zero gravity: Mantee’s forehead veins look fit to burst. Mantee being main character, he ought to have been right-side-up, with co-star Adam West inverted. After all, West was good at defying gravity, look at all those wall-climbing scenes in Batman.

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Some really attractive Mars-scapes seal the deal. This is probably Ib Melchior’s finest hour, certainly finer than REPTILICUS! or JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET. PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES looks gorgeous and has some interesting sci-fi ideas to boot, but I always struggled with the boring characters and lack of humanity. The leads are so bland Mario Bava was able to replace one of them halfway through filming and hardly anyone notices (thanks in part to the dubbing, I guess). But I must confess I have yet to watch ANGRY RED PLANET, which always fascinated me when I saw stills of it. Old Ib, who passed away this March, had what you would call an interesting career — no masterpieces, but working in a genre if not despised then at least loftily patronised, he contributed to a bunch of amusing or fun movies and made them better than they might have been.

Fiona would also like you to know that co-star Lundin’s bizarre song, which he would perform at conventions, is available to enjoy on YouTube here. Few songs can be said to evoke so many emotions at once, none of which really belong together.

Movie is available with a really nice package of extras (including the song) from Criterion.

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Star ’60

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on April 1, 2008 by dcairns

You know me, I love an imaginary landscape. Don’t let this guy stop you, have a look around…

Stop or My Mom Will Shoot

Smoke

All this stuff is from an East German-Polish sci-fi movie called THE SILENT STAR. It stars the beautiful Yoko Tani and a bunch of equally beautiful special effects. It’s a shellac-bright vision of the communist future we could all be enjoying right now if only Ronald Reagan hadn’t single-handedly won the Cold War with his bare fists, damn his greasy mane! If not for his senile single-mindedness, THIS COULD BE YOU:

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Thanks to filmmaker Steve Sullivan for this one!

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun

The film isn’t so very great, it shares some of the lack of characterisation and narrative drive that a lot of US sci-fi from the 50s suffers from, but these images will sear themselves onto your retinas (which, I dunno, you might or might not enjoy). They’re like the kind of thing Mario Bava was doing with PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, only here they have a bit of a budget.

The Castle

It’s rare to find a sci-fi film with imagery as lurid and beautiful as cheap paperback art. The only thing missing is a half-naked girl in copper pasties. But this film is way too serious for that.

Short People

I would sort of like to visit the Silent Star, though it does look a bit inhospitable and scary. But if I had Yoko to protect me I’d be OK.

Sphere

Book your vacation now!