The final third of Queen of Blood (1966) is a great little film; however, the first two-thirds is a hot mess. You can easily find trivia about the making of the movie and it’s interesting to read. What I conclude from it is that it’s pretty amazing Queen of Blood is as good as it is. It’s not so good, though, that I agree with writer/director Curtis Harrington that it inspired Ridley Scott to make Alien (1979.)
Queen of Blood isn’t Alien, nor is it even It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958), but it is fun (during its last third.) Before we arrive there, the movie is a murky compilation of special effects footage from two Russian sci-fi films and a confusing story of multiple expeditions into space. The point is to get to Mars, from where an alien spacecraft has crashed and sent an S.O.S. to Earth…
…but, I didn’t follow or understand their reasons for first going to the moon, orbiting instead of landing, and then landing on Phobos, one of the moons of Mars. I also never understood circumstances that created various races against time (that are only mentioned and not explore for the purpose of building suspense.) What I learned about space travel for Queen of Blood was what I learned from other movies.
It doesn’t really matter, because it’s all a set-up for a crew of four astronauts, Allan Brenner (John Saxon), his sweetheart, Laura James (Judi Meredith), Paul Grant (Dennis Hopper), and Commander Anders Brockman (Robert Boon) to be trapped on a rocket with a space vampire (Florence Marly.) It’s good that the action takes place only during the last 20 minutes, because four isn’t very many potential victims.
I love the “Alien Queen!” She’s painted with an iridescent green makeup and sports a soft serve ice cream cone hairstyle. So, she looks exotic. But, it’s the performance of Marly in the role that is actually quite compelling. The tiny movements of her mouth and eyes are foreign enough to be alien, yet familiar enough to be human. Indeed, her physical components remain a mystery for the astronauts to solve…
…until they learn that she gorges on human of blood, then sleeps for long periods of time while she digests it. Their simple solution is to raid their emergency supplies for plasma, which they give her to drink in a sippy cup. The only problem is that they’re likely to run out of plasma before they return home. It’s a sound premise, and the last person who avoids becoming a victim might surprise you.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Queen of Blood also stars Basil Rathbone as Dr. Farraday, the head honcho at the “Space Institute.” He has a significant amount of screen time for only a day and a half of shooting. Proportionally, I suppose it’s not that short, considering the entire production was quickly made with a low budget. This movie is odd, but it’s also oddly endearing. I don’t regret watching it.
Written by Curtis Harrington
Story by Mikhail Karzhukov, Otar Koberidze (Mechte navstrechu, uncredited)
Directed by Curtis Harrington
Starring John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, Judi Meredith, Dennis Hopper, Florence Marly, Robert Boon, Don Eitner, Forrest J. Ackerman RT 78 min.
Home Video Kino Lorber (Blu-ray)
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