Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Two spaceships touch down on a distant planet, their crews investigating strange signals and freakish meteorites. It becomes rapidly clear that all is not well on this planet as the travelers find themselves in the thrall of strange forces, and as they battle desperately to escape they find their numbers dwindling, and their mysterious enemy slowly forming around them.

Mario Bava's sci-fi chiller is commonly regarded as a forerunner to Ridley Scott's ALIEN. Though the later film does share Bava's Gothic spirit (and some plot details with PLANET, right down to the huge alien corpses in a derelict spaceship), I tend to believe Scott and company when they say they never saw Bava's film. The vastness of space is as foreboding as an abandoned, fog-shrouded house, and it's a natural setting for horror (just ask Lovecraft).

It's not quite as dizzying or thrilling as some of Bava's other films - perhaps the on-set language barriers (which, with actors speaking their lines in four different languages, must have been considerable) kept everyone somewhat off the same page. But the occasionally leaden pace allows our mind and eyes to wander, and there are MANY places for them to go.

Though an international co-production, the film was realized on an insanely flimsy budget, which only brought out Bava's more insane and outlandish creative instincts. Even if one of his main sets resembles a metallic (if impressively minimalist) take on a STAR TREK set...

...the whole affair, considering the lack of available material resources, is designed, lit, and paced splendidly. Which just goes to show that imagination and a horror director's eye for lighting and atmosphere go a long way in realizing an ambitious scenario. Though an attractive international cast in pervy spacesuits doesn't hurt, either.


  1. Thanks, David. This is the first Bava film that really disappointed me. I can appreciate its style, but it's just not very good, let down by poor acting and a barely functional plot (if that).

  2. True triumph of style over substance. But WHAT style it is.

    I recommend watching It: The Terror from Beyond Space, Planet of the Vampires, and Alien together on a triple bill. If only to see the evolution of an archetypal science-fiction scenario from the 1950s to the 1960s to the 1970s.