When one hears of a film entitled Planet of the Vampire Women, there are certain expectations as to the content. There will probably be violence, nubile women, aliens and quite possibly blood sprayed copiously about the ample bosoms of the aforementioned females. Planet of the Vampire Women indeed has all of these, but little else.
In the far future, a daring group of space pirates, led by the saucy Captain Trix Richards (Paquita Estrada), steal a large sum of money from a satellite casino, and flee in a stolen spaceship, pursued by indomitable lawman Falco (Jawara Duncan). Trix and her band, who are mostly attractive young women, though they also include the very male cyborg Jones (Keith Letl) and sketchy Dr. Calaveras (Stephen Vargo), try to hide on a mysterious nearby planet. Strange electrical storms soon cause them to crash, along with their law enforcement pursuers.
Almost immediately after the crash, Trix is engulfed in an eerie electrical glow, and transformed into a bloodthirsty vampire. She attacks one of the crew and flees out onto the alien planet. Ship's pilot Ginger (Liesel Hanson) and pleasure clone Astrid (Stephanie Hyden) set out to find her, not knowing that she has changed into a vampire. Soon enough, they are confronted by Falco, and eventually team up to fight the growing vampire menace that wants to conquer the universe.
But all that's plot, and plot is of minimal significance to the world that this film inhabits. Neither are dialogue, character development or visual elegance very important. Sure, characters say things, and they are distinguishable as individuals (mostly, though it's tough going at times to tell a few of the too similar perky young females apart), and seem to have fairly reasonable motivations and forms of expression. But these elements only exist because one cannot have a narrative film without them. In this case, they merely serve to assist in the presentation of the two things that Planet of the Vampire Women is really about: breasts and blood, preferably with the latter liberally covering the former.
While for the most part, the women in the film are clothed, at various levels of salaciousness, there are an awful lot of bared bosoms. Some of the time, the breasts are bared willingly, as when Astrid is trying to seduce Falco. But most of the time, the breast covering portions of clothing are torn off incidentally while the woman is being attacked by a vampire. And it is simply astounding how flimsy and poorly clasped these garments are, when a swiping claw across the abdomen or sharp gleaming teeth sunk into the neck can inadvertently cause one's shirt to slip to the floor. (And apparently, in the future, women have given up wearing such inconvenient and uncomfortable items as bras, for none are in evidence here.)
For those that like that kind of thing, there are ample servings, along with a lot of nice spurting blood and some fair to decent gore effects. But most filmgoers expect something more: some action, some romance, a few good jokes, an impressive vista of alien ruins. Nods are made in all these directions, but nothing much comes of it. There are a lot of anemic fight scenes, but they are neither convincing nor goofily fun. Much of the time, the human characters are fighting crudely rendered CG flying monsters, referred to as "space bats", or alternatively battling people dressed up in ridiculous foam rubber monster suits. The computer generated sets used for the alien planet and city are amateurish and generic, and the dialogue is dull and stilted. At one point, a character eagerly states, "The trail of blood seems to lead this way!" This is hardly Pulitzer material.
This is not to say Planet of the Vampire Women is entirely without merit. There are several glimmers of real acting talent among the cast. Admittedly, they struggle to overcome the tired dialogue and risible situations, but Stephanie Hyden as Astrid, Jawara Duncan as Falco and even Liesel Hanson as Ginger show a passion to deliver a performance of quality, even though this has been rendered effectively impossible in the current production. The entire cast is competent at least, and often does the best that can be expected with the limited resources available to them. And of course, they are mostly easy on the eyes, and certainly can't be faulted for that. Also, as stated above, when the producers confine themselves to practical effects, they do pretty well. The blood and gore effects, and the practical sets used for the interior of the spaceship are respectably good. When they turn to CG, however, the paucity of the budget is instantly apparent.
One must remember that money and big name stars are not necessary to make an enjoyable film, especially in the particular niche that Planet of the Vampire Women lives. What is vitally necessary, however, is a sense of verve and even abandon, an appreciation of the gonzo and strange, and a willingness to embrace the micro-budget and wink at the audience. Films such as Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers or the much more recent Blood on the Highway, which were probably made with little more funds than are available here, had a good sense of this, and were able to deliver a fun product in spite of small budgets. Planet of the Vampire Women seems to reach for this level, but is never able to firmly grasp it, and thus mostly fails. Rent this one.
Video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks decent, but not fantastic. There is some light aliasing from time to time, and on occasion the action is obscured by shadows and murk.
The audio is actually Dolby digital 5.1 channel, but not used anywhere near its full potential. Still, the dialogue is always clearly audible, and no hiss or other problem can be heard. No subtitles are included.
There are no extras included on the disc, which is perhaps just as well.
Planet of the Vampire Women knows its audience well, and delivers exactly what they want, with minimal filler. So, lots of bosoms and blood, but little action, laughs or thrills. If all you want is T&A, there's plenty here. If you want something more, keep looking. There are some valiant efforts made in the film, but nothing that even comes close to making it truly good.