Review: BLOODSUCKER’S PLANET (2019)
“Bloodsucker’s Planet is a groovy space-age prequel to the wacky bizarro-noir vampire feature Bloodsucker’s Handbook.” That’s writer/director Mark Beal’s description of the film. In more clear terms that means it’s a campy look at 60’s science fiction with engagingly cheesy effects and a sharp wit.
In the year 2366 space ship Argosy receives a distress call from Cooke (Cory W. Ahre, Sacrament) and diverts the mud harvesting planet of Mara. Apparently “There’s something in the mud!”. After some nifty animated credits the intrepid crew, Captain McDermott (Allen Menefee), Doc (Joel Jeremy Herrera), Danvers (Logan Hooks), Paulina (Adrienne Dobson) and Clarissa (Leni Mex) set out on a rescue mission.
They meet Bartlett (Joe Grisaffi, Conjoined, Manos: The Rise of Torgo) the factory’s caretaker and Adrianna (Jessica Bell) his robot assistant. Danvers is attacked by a bat, prompting concerns for their safety. But that’s far from the worst threat Mara has, there are parasites, talking roaches, and even Mother Vampire (Catalina Querida) to contend with.
Anyone who grew up with weekend “Creature Features” on TV will recognize the visual cues Bloodsucker’s Planet takes from Mario Bava’s Planet Of The Vampires. Added to that are plot points from the likes of Alien and Forbidden Planet. There are even scene transitions that look like they came from the Batman TV show.
These are backed up with the kind of effects you might expect from a film that was probably financed with change found between couch cushions. However, given Bloodsucker’s Planet intentionally looks trippy the effects fit right in, be it the claymation looking talking roach or the Georges Méliès inspired moon. Beal isn’t kidding when he describes the film as groovy.
Despite the similar approach to their low budgets and non-realistic look Bloodsucker’s Planet isn’t a spoof like Lake Michigan Monster. It tells its story seriously, but with its own style. There are a few in-jokes that genre fans will get, but that’s it. The cast also plays it straight, no scenery-chewing or winking to the audience.
Although Bloodsucker’s Planet is a prequel to Bloodsucker’s Handbook it works fine as a standalone film. I could follow and enjoy this just fine without having seen it.
Bloodsucker’s Planet will make its world debut at GenreBlast IV where it has been nominated for several awards, on August 30. There’s another screening at Northeast Wisconsin Horror Film Festival in Oshkosh, WI, on Oct. 12. You can check for more showings on the film’s website and Facebook page.