“Terror in Space” is a sci-fi/horror film of 1965 directed by Mario Bava. The film follows a crew of astronauts traveling to the moon who discover a hostile alien aboard their ship. The film was produced in Italy, but was also distributed in the United States under the title “Planet of the Vampires”.
The film is known for its claustrophobic atmosphere and captivating cinematography by Bava, who worked on many Italian genre films of the time. Additionally, the film was an inspiration for many later science fiction works, such as Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’.
The cast includes actors such as Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Angel Aranda and Evi Marandi. Even if the film didn’t receive a great commercial success at the time of its release, it has been rediscovered over the years and considered a milestone of Italian genre cinema. If you like sci-fi/horror movies from the 60s, “Terror in Space” might be a must-see movie.
The plot of “Terror in Space” follows the crew of the Argos spacecraft, consisting of seven astronauts, on a journey to the planet Aura. On their way, the ship receives a distress signal from an unknown planet and the crew decides to investigate.
Upon landing on the planet, the astronauts discover that the air is breathable, but that the planet appears to be deserted. Before long, however, the astronauts begin to be attacked by unseen forces and their companions begin to die one by one.
Later, the crew discovers that the planet is inhabited by a hostile alien race that seeks to take over their bodies and minds. The astronauts then find themselves in a fight for survival against the aliens and against time, as they must find a way back to their ship and escape the planet before it’s too late.
During their escape, the astronauts discover a huge alien ship hidden beneath the planet’s surface, and realize that the aliens are trying to invade Earth using their spacecraft as a means. Will the astronauts be able to defeat the aliens and return to their ship to return safely to Earth?
Here are the main characters of the movie “Terror in Space”:
Mark (played by Barry Sullivan): The captain of the spaceship Argos, responsible for the mission and welfare of the crew.
Sanya (played by Norma Bengell): The only female crew member, responsible for the ship’s communications.
Wess (played by Ángel Aranda): The ship’s pilot and right-hand man to the captain.
Karan (played by Evi Marandi): The wife of one of the deceased astronauts, who joins the crew in search of her husband.
Bert (played by Stelio Candelli): Another member of the crew.
Tiona (played by Franco Andrei): Another member of the crew.
Brad (played by Federico Boido): Another crew member.
There are other minor characters as well, such as the deceased astronaut Karan is searching for and the hostile aliens who attack the crew.
“Terror in Space” was produced in Italy in 1965 by the production company Italian International Film (IIF), with Mario Bava as director. Bava also wrote the screenplay for the film together with Alberto Bevilacqua and Callisto Cosulich.
The film was shot over five weeks inside the Titanus studios in Rome, with some exteriors shot in Spain. The production used a relatively modest budget, yet still created a futuristic spaceship and atmospheric set designs.
The main cast included Italian and Spanish actors, with Barry Sullivan as the ship’s captain and Norma Bengell as the only female crew. The film was dubbed into English for its release in the United States, where it was titled “Planet of the Vampires”.
Although “Terror in Space” did not achieve great commercial success at the time of its release, it has been rediscovered and re-evaluated over the years, becoming a cult movie for fans of science fiction and horror films. The film was also an inspiration to many directors and writers of later works in the science fiction genre, such as Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’.
Distribution and Reception
“Terror in Space” was released in Italian cinemas on October 15, 1965. Its international distribution followed later, with an English version dubbed for the American market, titled “Planet of the Vampires”, released in 1965.
Upon its release, the film did not achieve great success with audiences and critics, but in the following years it has been re-evaluated and acclaimed as a masterpiece of science fiction and horror cinema. Today, “Terror in Space” is considered a classic of the genre and a cult film for fans of science fiction cinema.
The film was lauded for its futuristic aesthetics, atmospheric set designs, and eerie, claustrophobic atmosphere. Director Mario Bava was praised for his ability to create an atmosphere of suspense and tension, despite the film’s small budget. Gino Marinuzzi Jr.’s score was also praised for its ability to create an eerie and atmospheric atmosphere.
In particular, the film was recognized for its influence on other science fiction and horror films, such as Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and Paul W. S. Anderson’s “Event Horizon”. Critic Roger Ebert called Terror in Space a “cult classic of the genre” and praised its ability to create an eerie, suspenseful atmosphere.
Although the film did not achieve great commercial success at the time of its release, today it is considered a classic of the genre and a masterpiece of science fiction and horror cinema, appreciated for its futuristic aesthetics, atmospheric set designs, eerie atmosphere and its influence on other subsequent films.
“Terror in Space” is a science fiction and horror film that stands out for its futuristic visual style, eerie and claustrophobic atmosphere, and effective use of suspense and the tension.
Director Mario Bava uses a combination of strong colors, accentuated light and shadow, and a wide variety of camera angles to create a futuristic and surreal setting. The Argos spacecraft features a futuristic design reminiscent of an alien spaceship, with an interior illuminated by pulsing lights and fluorescent colors, creating a feeling of eerie and strangeness.
Bava also uses a variety of editing techniques to create a sense of tension and suspense, alternating dialogue scenes with action scenes and exploiting the ship’s cramped and claustrophobic spaces to create a sense of oppression and imminent danger. The use of haunting sounds and evocative music contributes to a sinister and atmospheric atmosphere.
Also, “Terror in Space” is known for its ability to mix the science fiction genre with elements of horror, creating a creepy and suspenseful atmosphere. The threat of hostile aliens attacking the spaceship’s crew is effectively portrayed through the use of monstrous, deformed masks and atmospheric special effects.
In summary, “Terror in Space” is distinguished by its futuristic visual style, eerie and claustrophobic atmosphere, and effective use of suspense and tension, which mixes the genre of science fiction with elements of horror to create an evocative and immersive viewing experience.
Bava was born in Sanremo, Liguria, in 1914, and began his cinematic career as a cinematographer for films such as “The mask of the devil” (1960), directed by Riccardo Freda. Subsequently, Bava directed and wrote a series of genre films, including “The Girl Who Knew Too Much” (1963), a yellow thriller that inspired the genre of Italian Giallo, and “Terror in Space” (1965).
Bava was known for his distinctive visual style and his ability to create eerie and claustrophobic atmospheres. He worked with limited budgets and often handled the special effects and photography of his films himself. His filmography includes such genre films as horror, thrillers, Italian westerns and science fiction.
Bava was an important figurehead for many subsequent directors, including Quentin Tarantino and Tim Burton. His contribution to genre cinema and italian horror it has been recognized all over the world and has inspired numerous works by Italian and international directors.
Mario Bava died in Rome in 1980 at the age of 66, but his work continues to be appreciated and studied by film enthusiasts from all over the world.