On the Technicolor Globe

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Weekend film-viewing round here included the new Radiance blu-ray of Mario Bava’s Terrore nello Spazio (Terror in Space), or Planet of the Vampires as it’s more commonly (and misleadingly) known. Bava and co. fared better with the AIP retitling of this one than they did a year later with Operazione Paura which the US distributors decided to call Kill, Baby, Kill. Bava’s haunted planet was released in the US on a double-bill with Die, Monster, Die, another how-low-can-you-go AIP title applied to the studio’s mangled adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space. Bava’s film is filled with unearthly colours, and is a lot more worthwhile despite its minuscule budget. That giant skeleton is the precursor of the Space Jockey from Alien, as Dan O’Bannon eventually admitted after having spent years denying any influence.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
The ghost at the window

6 thoughts on “On the Technicolor Globe”

  1. This is one of the “sexist” sci fi films just based on the space suits. Visually intriguing. It deserves being seen several times. It’s the sci fi alien version of a spaghetti western production wise. Ahead of its time.

  2. Gabriele Mayer’s costume designs are indeed the best. The crew look like space bikers.

  3. I remember Planet of the Vampires as a kid. It was one of those movies that was a staple of late night although heavily cut for adverts. Eventually, the times being what they were, it kind of mutated into a stoner movie because of the visuals. I ordered the Blu-ray. It’ll be interesting to see an uncut version.

    What it brings to mind for me, because of its use of color (uh sorry, colour) , is the original <Star Trek series that ran here in the US from 1966-1968. When the construction of your starship is largely plywood & particleboard & holiday lights you have to have some kind of imagination to power it. I recently had an opportunity to watch some of the original show on Blu-Ray after many many years and I was struck by its stylish set design and use of color. Probably the best thing about it.

    Unfortunately the show could not be allowed to find its fate as a sixties cultural artifact but morphed into a quasi-sacred cash cow, spawning seemingly endless iterati0ns, each series and film more dreary and mediocre than the last. (Did any of this stuff make it over to Britain? I would think that a TV culture that produced The Prisoner or Blake’s 7, not to mention the best of Dr Who, would find it mighty thin gruel. For one thing there was no discernable sense of irony or humor whatsoever.) Anyway to the degree that one can purge their palate of All That Came After and see it with fresh eyes, the original show from the 1960s can be quite visually interesting and stylistically entertaining. Groovy, even.

  4. We had the original Star Trek running and re-running here for many years. I always enjoyed it even if it wasn’t as imaginative or weird as the best British SF TV. Roddenberry had bigger budgets so the effects and sets were better than Doctor Who, and the series also had some good writers: Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison (of course), Norman Spinrad, etc. The latter wrote one of my favourite scary episodes, “The Doomsday Machine”.

    Bava’s film is very like one of those Star Trek episodes where they’re on a studio-set planet. One thing I enjoyed about those Trek excursions was the way they had the same eerie choral harmonic drifting in the background whatever planet they might be on. I think the only time they don’t do this is when they use an outdoor location. Now that we’re living in the actual future there’s a whole hour of that planetary ambience here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uzWpQkw0aU

  5. From what I’ve been able to gather, Star Trek actually first made it to the UK as a replacement for Doctor Who when Patrick Troughton’s run finished in mid-1969. Found a fragment of a TV guide (probably Radio Times) article online announcing the fact. I did a bit of research on the relative costs of the two shows, and I can’t remember exact numbers (it was somewhat approximate research anyway) but I think it worked out that Star Trek cost about twice as much as Doctor Who; I suspect that would’ve been at least in some part because the former shot on film and the latter mostly on videotape (tape being heinously expensive but also reusable).

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