Queen of Blood (1966)
Is it possible that this Corman produced thriller via writer/director Curtis Harrington was inspired by 1958’s It! The Terror From Beyond Space and in turn inspired Ridley Scott’s Alien in the decade that followed? Who knows for sure but the similarities are easy to point out.
In true Roger Corman fashion, the king of frugal productions purchased a Russian sci-fi film translated as The Dream Comes True. Utilizing selective footage of space ships and distant planets, he had Harrington produce a film around the visually impressive clips. What we wound up with is a solid drive in flick featuring an attractive space vampire who happens to be green and has a set of scorching eyes that are wonderfully captured on film.
The plot is a simple one that casts Basil Rathbone as the leader of a NASA styled space agency. It’s the year 1990 and Basil’s researchers have finally received communications from another world. The alien beings are headed to Earth but find themselves crashing onto Mars. Rathbone sends in Dennis Hopper, Judi Meredith and Robert Boon as a rescue mission. One that in itself will need help.
“You’re either fools or very brave men.” Basil points out to John Saxon and another astronaut as they head into the unknown to help with the search for alien survivors.
In the end it’s Saxon who finds a seductive looking green woman played silently by Florence Marly who longingly looks at the three men but gets her back up when she discovers Meredith is a member of the four remaining rescuers.
When Dennis Hopper is found drained of life and a green woman even Bill Shatner might do best to avoid sated with blood, they know that she intends to feed upon them. In typical science fiction clichéd dialogue we have Saxon disgustedly claiming, “She’s a monster.” He wants her killed. On the other hand we have our science officer proclaiming, “It’s fascinating!” He of course wants to protect the lady with the bloody appetite for future study. Sounds like some of those Alien films to me.
There could be more than one struggle lying in wait for Saxon. The vampiress with the glowing eyes as well as the nerdy scientists who want to study and perhaps even breed the species of space vampires. Could this prove detrimental to earth’s population? Probably.
Hey isn’t that Famous Monsters of Filmland’s Forrest J. Ackerman as one of those nerdy types?
This may be a low budget “quickie” but that shouldn’t deter anyone from checking into this colorful thriller of the vampire variety mixed with outer space. Just one year prior to this, Mario Bava had Planet of the Vampires in local cinemas. A great double feature to sit in on. According to Roger Corman on an interview included in the blu ray release of Queen, Basil was on set for just one day and filmed all his scenes in their entirety. That’s what one has to classify as a “quickie.”
Low budget it may be but the small scale sets work fine. That is probably due to the effective use of lighting what we can actually see of the ship’s interiors. Plenty of greens and blues flooding the screen seem to add to the aura of Marly’s vampire woman in green.
John Saxon was and still is a favored leading man of mine. He starred in more than enough genre pictures that your bound to find more than one to your liking. How about Planet Earth? Always loved that one where men are servants to women. Think Planet of the Apes only sub in Diana Muldaur for the Apes and what happens when Saxon gets “under” her skin.
Dennis Hopper had already worked with director Harrington on the cult favorite Night Tide and needs little introduction here. This was just before his rowdy days were upon us with the release of Easy Rider. Anytime we get a look at Rathbone is time well spent. The one time Sherlock was nearing the end of his career and would be gone the year following Queen’s release.
In the end I’ll generally check out any feature with Saxon, Basil or Hopper. When the movie turns out to be this much fun it’s all the more reason to celebrate and spread the word on Queen of Blood.