Before I begin this review, I need to clarify a few things, first I recalled watching this episode over 30-years ago, and while I have reviewed television seasons, series and of course made-for-tv movies, I have yet to exam a single episode of a series. Almost all television series, will have one show in their running that deals with Halloween, or something spooky, hence another subdivision in the category for me to explore. Now, I don’t have and likely wouldn’t purchase the Buck Rogers Blu-ray series set, this episode was available on TUBI and to my shock seeing it on the Visions of Horror listing was a shock and a refreshing look back to a happy time in my childhood. Therefore, I will attempt to separate the two views from the enjoyment of memories as child and now critical adult.

One should provide a little backstory to the series, even though this will be the only episode I’ll likely ever cover of the series, it was based on a novella called Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Now first published in 1928, from there inspired a comic strip and a multitude of other media forms, others began following suit most namely Flash Gordon. In the original story Buck in 1927 becomes trapped in a radioactive gas cave-in becoming suspended in aging and awakens 492-years later. Using that same basis, the television series has Buck as an astronaut in the 20th-century (1987) frozen in space and reawakening 500-years later in 25th-century or 2487. Glen A. Larson served as executive producer for the series, who previously made both The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and then Battlestar Galactica, these two other series will become more relevant later-on in this review. Just two minor trivia notes for those thinking of skipping of this review, the episode plays homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel from 1897 and the reemergence of the bloodsucker which occurred in 1979. That year contained many occurrences for the audience Nosferatu the Vampire, John Badham’s Dracula, then three horror comedies Nocturna, Dracula Blows His Cool, and Love at First Bite, while two other television shows had references too, they were B.J. and the Bear and then Spider-Woman. One could state others exist, which is true but those death variations on Bathory, Criminal Blood Drinkers, and Vampire Covens.

On January 3, 1980, originally aired this episode number 12 of season 1, entitled “Space Vampire” directed by Larry Stewart (The Initiation [1984]) with a summary straightforward a creature that stalks a space station. The story penned by Kathleen Barnes and David Wise (who was inspired by a novel entitled Space Vampires [1976] by Colin Wilson, later made into Lifeforce [1985]); opened with Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard (Bone Eater [2007])) and Wilma Deering (Erin Gray (Jason Goes to Hell [1993])) arrive at Theta Station to have Twiki serviced, where they meet Commander Royko (Christopher Stone (The Howling [1981])) who appears to know Wilma. Suddenly alarms ring-out as a freighter emerges from Stargate Nine with no response from the helm it crashes with the space station, contaminating the air quality inside the Theta Station. Royko orders the base under quarantine, a complete lockdown, no one is allowed to leave, hence prevents Buck and Wilma from a vacation on Genesia. As they arrive at the wreckage one witnesses a blood orb sweep past them, alluding to the it is unseen by them. The derelict vessel is The Demeter (same ship name from Bram’s book), as they board the ship accompanied by Dr. Ecbar (Lincoln Kilpatrick (Prison [1987])) to search for survivors they find only bodies, but retrieve two data recorders, thereby discovering what appears a crew suffering from hallucinations caused by EL7 virus. Ecbar and Buck discuss privately that the crew is not exactly dead, but their energy force is drained from them. Wilma and Buck learn about a passenger on the vessel named Helson (Phil Hoover (Race with the Devil [1975])) who was a bounty hunter from New Londom – see the similarities between that name and Helsing famed. It is here one learns from Dr. Huer (Tim O’Connor (Sssssss [1973])) who transmitted intel from Earth about the Vorvon (Nicholas Hormann (The Hand [1981])), who can drain life energy and turn victims into zombies, meanwhile Wilma feels the cold hand of death, and we experience a vampiric vision a unique treat for viewers.

As previously mentioned Battlestar Galactica as tie-in, here goes when the Vorvon attacks Buck uses an ancient medallion to ward it off, this is the same one that is on Commander Adama’s collar who oversees that ship. Now, the actor who portrayed Adama was Lorne Greene, starred in The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula [1977] in which he plays two curious roles. Shortly afterwards the Vorvon has captured Wilma, to have her as his immortal lover, and both Rogers and Royko need to handle his mindless slaves, needless to say a trap awaits the demon-spawn creature in a sizzling fashion.

 

There’s plenty of homage back to the original Dracula story, including the actual storytelling just merely altering to style, for example Stoker used devices of newspaper clippings, diaries, a captain’s logbook and journal; while now using digital sources ship’s video; Helson’s servo drone and communications from Dr. Huer. Then Vorvon himself, able to change physical form, mesmerizing eyes, and the ship he traveled on void of life, filled with death crashed in the space station while the story it crashed into the port. Even his appearance resembles what was described in the legendary book and slightly connects to Nosferatu, but a poor makeup skull cap. Finally, there’s a cutesy moment in reference to the creature’s origin in ‘Rumaine System’ which for a vampire fiend Romania i.e., Transylvania.

There’s an interesting moment where Buck states the medallion is the 25th-century closest relic to the cross, and Wilma gives a complex look as if to suggest religion is not the focus rather space exploration. While the series with today’s audience might find it laughable, at times silly perhaps a bit sexist, from Buck showing his chest-hair to Wilma does an awful lot of running and yelling as a damsel in distress; lastly, it contained a lot of campy moments, however this one episode contained a high-level of dread. This show still has fond memories for many and accounts for very popular ratings rival to the series pilot episode, some may point to the influences of Planet of the Vampires [1965] and Queen of Blood [1966], however I tend to disagree first those movies were from the mid-60s and most folks who recall this episode were merely children in 1980, unaware of those films, likely there was pure pleasure in their discovery at the time.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0533111/

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

Baron’s Rating: 7.0/10

https://tubitv.com/tv-shows/584720/s01-e14-space-vampire

*Note the reason Tubi states it’s the 14th-episode is because they split two 2-hour broadcasts into two additional episodes.