#253 Planet of the Vampires/Terrore nello spazio

Watched: January 15 2020

Director: Mario Bava

Starring: Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Ángel Aranda, Evi Marandi, Stelio Candelli, Franco Andrei, Fernando Villena

Year: 1965

Runtime: 1h 28min

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Back to civilization after winter break, we dive into the magical and stylish world of Mario Bava with Planet of the Vampires (pronounced vampyres, like Andrew’s documentary in the Buffy episode “Storyteller“. At least in our minds).

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Unfortunately, despite a good start, the female heroes in this this movie tend to scream, faint, and/or run away at the first sign of the undead. Buffy would not approve.

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Argos, a spaceship filled with beautiful people in fabulous leather outfits, approaches an unexplored planet together with its sister ship Galliott. Both ships are sucked into the planet’s atmosphere and go in for a rough landing, and then the crew members try to kill each other once they wake up from the crash.

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“I’m sure glad someone designed these high necked and traditionally vampire proof outfits for our space journey. Their reliance on perfect peripheral vision is exactly what has gone wrong with earlier expeditions.”

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A knock on the head is enough to bring them back to themselves, and the Argonauts go out onto the new planet to see if they can find and rescue the crew of the Galliott. However, strange things start to happen – voices are heard, dead and living bodies both disappear, and massive skeletons are discovered. What is going on?

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“I wonder how these giants died…” “Isn’t it obvious? No high necked, sexy leather outfits anywhere! It was only a matter of time before they perished.”

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Bava always hits the spot for us, although we have never seen this particular movie before. The costumes are amazing, the concept is great (and clearly an influence on later works in the genre), the sets are awesome and there are some very cool shots and visual effects.

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The planet looks eerie and fantastic

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It’s a fun and slightly campy sci-fi-space-adventure which will make you develop trust issues on par with The Thing (1982). Loved it!

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“Plastic is not good for the ENVIRONMEEEENT!!!”

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What we learned: We’re so cosplaying this later. Peripheral vision and ability to turn our heads be damned!

Next time: Repulsion (1965)

#252 For a Few Dollars More

Watched: December 26 2019

Director: Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski

Year: 1965

Runtime: 2h 12min

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The Man with No Name (Eastwood), a.k.a. Manco or Monco (so… The Man with Potentially Several Names then..?) is now a professional bounty killer, roaming the wild west looking for bad guys to kill. For money, obviously. He’s not a complete psycho. He is not alone in this noble pursuit though – The Man in Black (van Cleef), a.k.a. Colonel Douglas Mortimer is a formidable rival.

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“Let’s make a deal. Whoever kills the most bad guys gets to wear the poncho for a day!”

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Notorious criminal El Indio (Volontè) escapes from jail and reunites with his followers whom he preaches to about carpenters from a pulpit… Seems like an oddly familiar pastime. Manco/Monco/TMWPSN and Mortimer alpha off and then join forces to stop El Indio’s evil bank robbing plans.

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“My name is El Indio, and these are my ten discipl… eh, gang members.”

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The Man with No Name goes undercover in the gang, and then gets into hot water – quite literally as they ride to Agua Caliente, the unfriendliest town in the west.  But who will outwit whom? What is the significance of El Indio’s pocketwatch and his flashbacks? And who will eventually Über-Alpha the other Alphas and become the one Alpha to rule them all?

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One can only guess…

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The sequel to A Fistful of Dollars, later followed by The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), For a Few Dollars More has everything you could possibly want in a western. Strong, silent men, lots of pregnant pauses and tense silences, a fantastic soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, saloons with easily distracted piano players (is there a union rule that they all have to stop every time a new person enters the room?), hat shooting duels, and lots of violence and horses. What’s not to love?

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Even The Man with No Name has upgraded from his mule to a proper horse. Well done, you!

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We loved Mortimer’s arrival in Tucumcari, Indio’s flashbacks and backstory, the soundtrack, all of Clint Eastwood, the twists and turns, and the tension. Can’t wait for the next one!

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“So, we’ll meet up again in 8765 hours for the sequel?” “Sure. Can I play a different character though?” “Well, we can certainly change our names for it if that helps.” “Dammit, I’m in!”

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What we learned: Keep your friends close and your frenemies closer. And would it kill you to call your frenemies once in a while..? They might be getting lonely you know.

Next time: Planet of the Vampires (1965)