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Influence on Ridley Scott's Alien

D1981 August 27, 2014 User blog:D1981
Vampire Planet

Planet of the Vampires

Planet of the Vampires (Italian: Terrore nello spazio) is a 1965 Italian/Spanish science fiction horror  film directed by Mario Bava.Two huge interplanetary ships on an expedition into deep uncharted space receive a distress signal emanating from Aura, an unexplored planet. Both ships, the Galliott and the Argos, attempt to land on the surface of the fog-encased world. While entering the planet's atmosphere, the crew of the Argos becomes possessed by an unknown force and try to violently kill each other.Only Captain Markary (Sullivan) has the will to resist, and is able to force all of the others aboard his ship out of their hypnotic, murderous state. Debuted on the very same day of Lost in Space‘s. Film's narrative details and visual design appeared to have been a major influence on Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). Aesthetically both films are similar as well. The alien planet is shrouded by eternal darkness, never ending fog and the landscape is filled with jagged mountains. ​​Planet of the Vampires atmospheric haze presents the foreign planet in brilliant light and shadows. Much like Alien, a sense of proportion between the people and their environment is stunted and we’re left with a claustrophobic, pulsating rhythm. Mood is emphasized over action while what is concealed in our confinement of seeing proves to make the mood all that more scary. It is commonly thought that Scott probably wasn’t the person responsible for this “homage” to Planet of the Vampires and that Alien’s script writers Ronald Shusett and Dan O’Bannon are most likely the culprits.  The chain could go something like this: Planet of the Vampires influenced Alien, which in turn influenced Galaxy of Terror (1981), which in turn influenced Aliens (1986), which in turn influenced an innumerable amount of films, like David Twohy’s Pitch Black (2000).Dan O'Bannon co-wrote Dark Star with John Carpenter. Many of the elements of Planet of the Vampires not used by O’Bannon in Alien are strikingly similar to the 1985 film Lifeforce.... also co-written by Dan O’Bannon. Similar plot is found on 1958’s  It! The Terror from Beyond Space which was almost old enough to drink alcohol legally when Alien debuted. Like Alien, director Edward L. Cahn and writer Jerome Bixby’s It evokes much of the tension and mystery of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. One decidedly overlooked influence on Alien is Universal Studios’ 1954 horror classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The crew invades the title monster’s domain on a scientific mission not in a spaceship but on a boat. The monster is revealed very slowly a piece at a time, much like Alien‘s xenomorph and when we see it, we become witness to one of the quintessential movie monsters in horror history Screenwriter of “It! The Terror from Beyond Space” (1958) Jerome Bixby said on a interview: “Frankly, I feel like the grandfather of Alien, chuckled Bixby, whose credits include 1,300 short stories and segments of “Star Trek” and “The Twilight Zone.” "They’re both about a small group of people trapped aboard a spacecraft with an inimical creature out to get them and which, in fact, knocks them off one by one. No problem there; that’s a pretty general plot outline. In both stories the creatures use the ship’s air ducts. In both stories they are held off with gas and electricity. And at the end of both stories, they’re dispatched by suffocation, by evacuating the creatures from the ship and depriving them of air."  “In all honesty, my story was also derivative,” he allowed. Essentially what I did was take Howard Hawks’ ‘The Thing’ and play it aboard a spaceship. But I didn’t copy the storyline; I used the film ‒ a masterpiece in the genre ‒ as inspiration for my story. The Hawks  film has long been a model for SF writers.”  

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