What do you get when you film a movie with actors speaking four different languages, create some cheesy special effects that manage to capture the viewer’s imagination, and throw in some body suits that look like the X-Men movies and Biker Boyz got smooshed together? You get Planet of the Vampires, that’s what.

Planet of the Vampires is one of those films that will have you laughing at the cheesy effects and bad sets at first, but by the time the credits roll, you’ll have a white-knuckle grip on the edge of your seat. This isn’t because the film is fast-paced, but rather because it manages to ratchet up the tension and dread to the absolute breaking point, before suddenly remembering that the audience is supposed to feel it too. Out of absolutely NO WHERE, it goes from being a campy sci-fi flick, to an engrossing story that grabs you by the brain and doesn’t let go.

A vast majority of the special effects were done in-camera; that is, they weren’t added in during post production. Miniatures, perspective shifts, mirrors, framing…if you can think of a filming trick, it was used in this low-budget romp. While there’s no hiding the crap quality of the effects used, you’ll find yourself replacing what’s on screen with something far more horrible by way of your imagination. Here’s a perfect example: a plastic miniature of a ship with sparklers sticking out the bottom is shown in one scene, but somehow my brain convinced me I was watching video footage of a ship’s engines breaking down, rendering it unable to lift off. It’s not unlike old Atari games, where boxes and lines could become landscapes and spacecraft. In fact, I daresay the visuals add to the spirit of the movie, rather than detract from it.

The English dub is lame, and the script is poor, but the actors still somehow manage to do a great job. I think it comes down to their facial expressions and body language; even with the cheesy dialogue and voices, you’re able to tell that these people are truly petrified by the circumstances they find themselves in, and even start to feel sorry for them. They’re put in some rather precarious situations, and their reactions only add to the sense of hopelessness they must have been experiencing.

Planet of the Vampires is a low-budget, cheesy, lame, horribly under-produced science fiction movie that manages to get under your skin and stick with you for a few days after watching it. Do yourself a favor and load it up on Netflix Instant, and don’t let the crappy visuals or bad script throw you off; this truly is a great movie, one which, before you know it, will have sucked you in and made you care.