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Nicolas Winding Refn on How ‘Alien’ Ripped Off Mario Bava’s ‘Planet of the Vampires’

Nicolas Winding Refn on How 'Alien'
Courtesy Cannes Classics

CANNES — Introducing Italian director Mario Bava’s 1965 “Planet of the Vampires,” prior to its Cannes Classics screening in a freshly restored 4K print, B-movie maniac Nicolas Winding Refn had the following news for the fanboys.

“Planet of the Vampires” is the film that Ridley Scott and Dan O’Bannon stole from to make ‘Alien.’ We found the elements, we have the evidence tonight. This is the origin!” he said.

Refn, who came to tubthump “Vampires” prior to the world preem of his “The Neon Demon,” is clearly the biggest Mario Bava fanboy of them all.

“It is a truly great film,” he enthused. “It’s melodramatic; it’s operatic; it’s campy; has great music; leather costumes; space ships; it has really wacky dialogue in Italian that does not make any sense.”

The film’s 4K restoration came about after he suggested it to Italian maverick producer Fulvio Lucisano, who produced “Planet” and also distributes Refn’s movies in Italy. “I’m working with the guy who made Mario Bava’s movies, which is really cool.”

Refn also noted that “there is nothing cooler that having Mario Bava now being in the same club as the greatest filmmakers of all times in the Cannes Classics section. He certainly should be up there with them.”

Here is Refn’s evidence of the “Alien” ripoff.  “When you look at the two movies it’s not just similarities. It’s lifted structure, scenes, characters, dilemmas, themes that are very apparent.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“I mean this with the highest respect,” Refn was quick to point out.

“I think it’s wonderful: everyone steals from everyone. And with ‘Alien,’ which is another masterpiece, it defined genre movies as having a very high artistic standard.”

“But the irony is that it all comes back to this Italian movie that I don’t think has gotten the recognition it deserved.”