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Terrore nello Spazio / Terror en el Espacio

Planet of the Vampires
Haunted Planet / Demon Planet / Planet der Vampire

Italy/Spain 1965
produced by
Italian International Film/Castillo Cooperativa Cinematografica
directed by Mario Bava
starring Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Ángel Aranda, Evi Marandi, Stelio Candelli, Franco Andrei, Fernando Villena, Mario Morales, Ivan Rassimov, Federico Boido, Alberto Cevenini, Massimo Righi
screenplay by Mario Bava, Alberto Bevilacqua, Callisto Cosulich, Antonio Román, Rafael J.Salvia, based on the story One Night of 21 Hours by Renato Pestriniero

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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2 spaceships, the Galliot & the Argos, are supposed to land on the planet Aura, but upon landing, the Galliot goes amiss - a crash most probably - & the Argos only manages to land safely on Aura thanks to captain Mark Markary's (Barry Sullivan) superior piloting skills. Once on solid ground though all crewmembers except for the captain start to violently attack each other, & again, it's the captain who saves them from killing each other thanks to his two-fisted intervention.

On Aura, a small scouting group go looking for the Galliot ... & find it too, but all of the crew seems dead, killed by each others hand, safe for 2 crewmembers, captain Salas (Massimo Righi) & Kier (Frederico Boido) who are missing for some reason. & it seems the meteorite shield of the Galliot has been intentionally damaged (without which spacetravel might prove fatal).

Soon, the scouting crew returns to the Argos, only leaving crewmember Aldon (Mario Morales) behind as a guard ... but when they return to the Galliot they not only find Aldon gone, but also the corpses of the Galliot's crew ...

Back at the Argos, crewmembers start to behave violent for a short while every now & again, including first technician Wes (Ángel Aranda), who even tries to steal the Argos' meteorite shield, but once he is stopped by the captain, he cannot explain why ...

The captain, along with hs first officer Sonia (Norma Bengell) & crewman Carter (Ivan Rassimov) decides to scout around on the planet some more to find some answers ... & they find an ancient spacecraft which belonged to some aliens 3 times the size of a man (the giant skeletons prove it), which must have landed on Aura about 300 years ago & the crew of which has apparently killed each other too, much like the crew of the Galliot. Temporarily, the captain & Sonia even get locked into the spaceship & almost suffocate, but when they finally find a way out, Carter is gone ... & for good, too, it seems.

On the Argos, things get more & more out of hand when more & more crewmembers report that they have seen dead crewmembers of the Galliot &/or missing crewmembers of the Argos walking about, & are pretty much scared stiff ... & then the missing Galliot-crewmembers, captain Salas & Kier show up, very much alive (or so it seems), & are of curse given shelter on the Argos, but instead of using their skleeping quarters for a rest-period, they proceed to steal the meteorite shield ... & when trying to stop them, captain Markary is only able to capture Salas, while Kier gets away with the shield.

Salas reveals to Markary that he - & his crew - are indeed dead but possessed by bloodsucking intelligent parasites who are in desperate search to get off this barren planet & make for a more richly inhabited world to feed on its populace & with the Galliot - & its crew as temporary hosts - they want to obtain that ...

... but not as long as captain Markary has to say a word or 2 about it, & he soon makes up a plan to get the shield back from the Galliot & blow the ship up, then make a quick getaway with the Argos. & despite some complications that costs most of the Argos' crew safe Markary, Soniy & Wes their lives, the plan works ... but once airborne, Wes has to reylize that by now, Markary & Sonia are taken over by the parasites as well, & - being oputgunned & thus not able to fight them directly - destroys the meteorite shield.

This leads the captain & Sonia to land the Argos on the next inhabited planet, an uncharted world orbiting Sol called Earth.


Without a doubt, Terrore nello Spazio is one of the milestone sci-fi-horror films, & certainly the best of this genre in the 1960's (not that there was much competition worth mentioning) - & that's despite a rather trashy script with stupid dialogue, obvious cardboard sets & ridiculous spacesuits.

In this movie, Mario bava manages to ship around all its budgetary & storywise shortcomings by relying heavily on atmosphere created by a weird, otherworldly soundtrack, a massive use of cheaply to create but bizarre miniatures, & such inexpensive means of production as coloured lights. With the help of all this, Bava is able to conjure up an utterly unreal but nevertheless convincingly creepy world all of his own.

By the way: in English language sources, Ib Melchior is often credited with writing the screenplay for the film ... which is of course utter nonsense, he had nothing to do with the creative process of screenwriting but merely helped out with the dialogue for the English dub-version - & judging from the pedestrian quality of the dialogue, that is nothing to be proud of (it didn't sink the movie though thanks to superior direction).


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD