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SYFY WIRE Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

James Wan’s Aquaman 2 inspiration comes straight from the 1960s… with alien vampire fangs

By Benjamin Bullard
Planet of the Vampires

Even as he’s shared some fun early clues about the upcoming sequel to 2018’s Aquaman, director James Wan and DC have mostly left plot details to fans’ imaginations. But, a new tease about the film’s creative inspiration suggests Jason Momoa's next outing as Arthur Curry will take some cues from a freaky sci-fi horror film that harkens all the way back to the flower-power era.

Speaking with Total Film recently, Wan revealed that the new movie — properly titled Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — will bear the heavy influence of a campy Italian movie from the 1960s named Planet of the Vampires, a flick about disembodied alien possessors who take over the bodies of deceased human crew members of a pair of vessels that crash land on a mysterious planet — and then wreak havoc on the remaining survivors.

Planet of the Vampires

Aquaman 2 is very heavily inspired by Planet of the Vampires," said Wan. "You can take the boy out of horror, but you can never take the horror out [of] the boy.”

Though Planet of the Vampires (titled Terrore nello Spazio, or “Terror in Space” in its native Italian) might not be a household name to all but the most devoted old-school movie buffs, it’s credited with casting a long sci-fi shadow on later creature features, with fans speculating, as the report notes, that it may have even influenced modern-day classics like Ridley Scott’s Alien. The look and feel of the Mario Bava-directed movie is certainly a vibe; you can get a tiny taste of its vampire-flavored quirkiness in this trailer.

Taking inspiration from body-switching horror set in the vacuum of space might sound dark (and we’re talking about the same director responsible for creating the Conjuring movie-verse), but Wan hinted that Aquaman 2 will bear its own stamp of strangeness — one that won’t necessarily be all doom and gloom.

“The first movie took a lot of people by surprise, right? And that's partially because they were not familiar with the comic book, which deals in this very lurid, strange world,” he explained. "People were taken aback that I didn't throw all that stuff away and make a dark, heavy film. But I didn't feel that would have been right for it. So with the second film, I feel it will be easier for people to accept where we go because I've already laid the foundation."

The Atlantis mythos runs deep with all things Aquaman, and the new movie’s title bear more than a subtle nod toward the comics’ lost-kingdom lore foundations. Will DC go diving to the depths of Atlantis this time out, or perhaps the elusive undersea realm of Necrus (a name spotted recently in an icy set photo that Wan teased via Instagram)?

No one knows for sure, but we’ve got more than a year to sink our fangs into all the clues Wan’s dropped so far. Starring Jason Momoa  (Aquaman), Amber Heard (Mera), Patrick Wilson (Orm aka Ocean Master), Game of Thrones’ Pilou Asbaek, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom splashes into theaters on Dec. 16, 2022.