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Movie Review (GenreBlast Film Festival): Bloodsucker’s Planet (2019)

Bloodsucker’s Planet screened at GenreBlast, which ran at the Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester, Virginia, from August 29– September 1.

Fans of space opera creature features such as The Green Slime (1968) and Mario Bava’s Planet of The Vampires (1965; an obvious influence here) are sure to find loads to love about writer/director/cinematographer/editor/producer Mark Beal’s outrageously fun new film Bloodsucker’s Planet

In the distant future, the spaceship Argosy picks up a distress signal from the planet Mara. Captain McDermott (Allen Menefee) decides to have his crew investigate, with everyone heading down to Mara except second-in-command Clarissa (Leni Mex), who remains aboard the ship. Doc (Joel Jeremy Herrera), Paulina (Adrienne Dobson), and Danvers (Logan Hooks) have a look-see, during which time Danvers comes into contact with a small creature that looks like a tentacled bat.

The planet’s sole human resident, Bartlett (Joe Grisaffi), has chosen to remain on Mara as caretaker for a large corporation that abandoned its mud farming industry years earlier. His only company is robot Adrianna (Jessica Bell). Danvers falls sick, having picked up a parasite from the batlike creature, and the crew must remain while he recovers. It turns out that there is a far worse danger on the planet than those little flying menaces, though, and as the film’s title implies, a vampiric presence (Catalin Querida) awaits.

With a running time of 67 minutes, Bloodsucker’s Planet is briskly paced. Beal obviously knows his genre film fare, and here he helms his feature with respect and reverence to its Eurohorror science fiction forebears. Sure, the budget here was low and the seams sometimes show, but Beal keeps the proceedings played straight for the most part, rather than going for obvious laughs or camp. The cast members do a solid job of playing their roles straight, as well, and this approach pays off handsomely, giving the film a genuine feeling of being a lost slice of cinema from the 1960s. Adding to that authenticity are the terrific practical special effects, which range from stop motion to claymation to some outrageous gore gags, and beyond. The work is so good that it landed the GenreBlast award for Best FX — Feature Film. David Jack Skinner’s groovy soundtrack recalls the swinging sixties to a tee, also, and like The Green Slime, Bloodsucker’s Planet even comes with its own theme song with lyrics!

Viewers who love such recent mind-bending indie retro outings as Joe Badon’s The God Inside My Ear (2017) and Drew Bolduc’s Assassinaut (2019) are bound to have a blast with Bloodsucker’s Planet, which is an absolute delight from before its ultracool animated opening credits to its postcredits cracker jack. Beal has stated that the film is a prequel to his 2012 feature Bloodsucker’s Handbook, which I have yet to see, but with his obvious admiration for fright fare cinema and his imaginative DIY approach to making movies in that vein, I can’t wait to see his previous work and what he comes up with next.

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