I last watched our first movie back in 2010 and posted about it in one of my Science Fiction Sunday series. We watched the BluRay of the movie tonight and it looked quite good. Here's the post I wrote before. I pretty much feel the same way about it.
The first movie is The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) which American's might have seen under the title The Creeping Unknown. It's directed by Val Guest, a director that never I grew to be a great fan of, who does an ok job here. A small English town has a loud noisey event one night. A rocket crashes into a field. Brian Donlevy plays Quatermass. He's a hard talking tough science guy who really wants it all his way. Some people, like original tv series writer Nigel Kneale, didn't like Donlevy's performance but it's what I saw first and I've grown to like him, brusque and annoying as he is. He'd be a pain-in-the-ass kind of guy to work for. When Quatermass and the military open the rocket there is only one man of the three that left the earth. Where the heck did those other two guys go?
Victor, the rocket man, is all screwed up, hardly able to croakout a "Help me!" before going catatonic. Quatermass studies the ship trying to figure out where the other two men went. They find some film that doesn't answer their questions. Victor doesn't say anything but he can be lead around. Victor's wife sneaks him out of the hospital after he sucks the life out of some guy. Shortly after Victor runs away and leaves his wife screaming in her car. Victor stops in at a chemist's and that's where we get to see his crazy lookin' arm. Quatermass and the police find the poor dead chemist and he's just like the dead guy at the hospital, his body all dehydrated and gray. Victor doesn't kill a little girl and that leads the cops to him in the Detford area. There's a night scene at a zoo. That was kind of cool looking. Most of the film is pretty average in it's technical aspects. The physical effects are pretty good, so is the make up. Back in the movie Victor is mutating and leaving parts of himself about. There are lots of scenes of people looking for something. Eventually the monster is confronted in Westminster Abbey and the Earth saved. It's not the greatest SF movie you'll see but it delivers a good bit of fun with a creepy monster and some action. I'd recommend it, along with the whole series. There was a TV program followed by several movies.
I was sure I had seen but forgotten our second film, Planet Of The Vampires, but I don't see it on my Watched Movies List and I don't have a copy. I guess I had just forgotten that I hadn't seen it. I'm not a fan of the director, Mario Bava, but he has a fair size following. Bava wrote the script with 4 other writers and it's based on a short story. The version we saw is the US AIP release with a script by Ib Melchior and Louis M. Heyward. All those writers don't seem to have much knowledge of science but that's ok it's a 1965 Italian science fiction film so it doesn't matter. The movie was co-produced by AIP. You can read a bit about that on the Wikipedia page for the movie.
American International Pictures had achieved a great deal of commercial success in the early 1960s with Bava's Black Sunday (1960) and Black Sabbath (1963), as well as dozens of lesser Italian films, including several sword and sandal pictures. Eventually, AIP heads Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson decided to coproduce some of these films, rather than just pay for the rights to distribute them, in order to have more control over their content. Planet of the Vampires was one such coproduction, financed by AIP and Italy's Fulvio Lucisano for Italian International Film, along with some Spanish production money provided by Castilla Cooperativa Cinematográfica. AIP provided the services of writer Ib Melchior, whose previous movies had included such modest hits as The Angry Red Planet and Reptilicus, as well as the relatively big budget Robinson Crusoe on Mars. Melchior wrote the screenplay for the English-language version of the film, with some assistance from AIP producer Louis M. Heyward.
Barry Sullivan is the Captain of a spaceship that's out exploring space with another ship. They receive a distress signal from an unexplored planet. When the two ships land the crews go mental and start fighting. Three are killed on Barry's ship before they get back to normal. They have no contact with the other ship and decide to travel overland to it. The planet is foggy and filled with lava. The crew on the second ship is dead. The corpses disappear while they are checking out the rest of the ship. They soon find out that some aliens on the planet can take over the minds of a the human's and turn them to their will. They can even animate the dead men. The human's find another space ship, the crew are huge and dead, only their skeletons remain. It's one of the plot points in the film that critics say influenced Ridley Scott in Alien. There's a distress signal in that film too. You can watch it on YouTube at the link above and figure it out for yourself. I think Bava himself is heavily influenced by Forbidden Planet. Again you can be the judge. It's not a great film but it's kind of fun to watch. I have certainly watched worse and I would watch it again. Maybe not today but in a few years.