Queen of Blood

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Queen of Blood
Queenofblood.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Curtis Harrington
Produced by George Edwards
Samuel Z. Arkoff
Screenplay by Curtis Harrington
Based on the story "Mechte navstrechu" 
by Mikhail Karzhukov
Otar Koberidze
Starring John Saxon
Basil Rathbone
Dennis Hopper
Judi Meredith
Music by Leonard Moran
Cinematography Vilis Lapenieks
Editing by Leo H. Shreve
Studio Cinema West Productions
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release dates March 1966
Running time 81 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $177,302,19 (as at 1 Oct 1966)[1]

Queen of Blood is a 1966 horror/science fiction film released by American International Pictures. The director, Curtis Harrington, crafted this B-movie with footage from the Soviet films Mechte Navstrechu and Nebo Zovyot. It was released as part of a double bill with the AIP movie Blood Bath. The film features John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, Judi Meredith and Dennis Hopper.[2]

Plot[edit]

The year is 1990 and space travel is well established ever since humans landed on the moon twenty years earlier.

At the International Institute Of Space Technology, communications expert and astronaut Laura James monitors strange signals being received from outer space. Laura's superior, Dr Faraday, translates the signal and discovers that it is from an alien race who are sending an ambassador to Earth.

However soon after this Laura receives a video log showing that the aliens have suffered an accident to their ship and have crashed on Mars.

The Institute launches a rescue mission on board the Oceano, including Laura, and astronauts Anders Brockman and Paul Grant.

The Oceano travels through a sunburst and suffers some damage but makes it to orbit around Mars. It then lands on Mars and locates the alien craft. Anders and Paul go to investigate and discover a single dead alien. Faraday deduces that the rest of the alien crew must have left in a rescue ship; an observation satellite will be needed to locate the rescue ship.

Laura's fiance Allan volunteers along with fellow astronaut Tony. They travel to one of Mars' moons in the ship Meteor, where they launch the observation satellite needed to find the alien rescue ship, then travel to Mars in their own rescue ship.

Allan and Tony land on Phobos and launch the satellite. They contact the Oceano who tell them they must leave for Mars in 32 minutes. Then Tony sees another craft from the window of the Meteor. He and Allan enter it and find a living female alien.

Allan and Tony take the alien back to the rescue ship. As the ship only holds two people, one of them must stay behind. They toss a coin and Tony decides to stay.

Allan and the alien arrive on the Oceano, joining Laura, Paul and Anders. The alien regains consciousness and smiles at the three men, but not Laura. She refuses to eat all food and will not let Anders take a blood sample.

That night, Paul is guarding the alien. The alien attacks and kills him, draining her blood.

The surviving astronauts decide to keep the alien alive by feeding her blood from the ship's supply of plasma. This eventually runs out and the alien kills Anders, leaving Laura and Allan as the only humans on board the ship.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Harrington had made his name with the feature Night Tide which impressed Roger Corman enough to offer him Queen of Blood. "Of course I would like to do a more individual film than Queen of Blood", said Harrington at the time, "but I can't get the financing. However the film is entertaining and I feel I was able to say something within the context of the genre."[3] The film was made using special effects from the Soviet movie A Dream Come True but director Harrington estimated 90% of the movie was his.[4]

Czech actor Florence Marly was a personal friend of Curtis Harrington. The director later said he had to fight to let Roger Corman use her " because she was an older woman. I'm sure he had some bimbo in mind, you know? So I fought for Marley because I felt she had the required exotic quality that would work in the role."[5] Harrington said Dennis Hopper "was like a part of my little team by then" so he agreed to also appear.[5]

Basil Rathbone was paid $1,500 to act for a day and a half on this film, and $1,500 for half a day on Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965), which was another film based on Russian footage. Rathbone ended up working overtime and missed a meal. The Screen Actors Guild demanded overtime pay plus a fine for the meal violation but producer George Edwards produced footage showing that the delay was because Rathbone did not know his lines and insisted on skipping lunch.[1]

The budget to this and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet came to $33,052[6]

Release[edit]

The film was released in the United States on March 1966. Even before it was released the quality of the movie was sufficient for Universal to hire Harrington and producer George Edwards to make Games.[7]

On December 1, 2003, the film was featured at the Sitges Film Festival, Spain.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a mixed review, and wrote, "Since it was a cut-up and cobbled together rush job, it turns out better than expected; even though it drags its feet through most of the voyage, it still manages to deliver some chills come climax time."[8]

Critic Richard Scheib liked the film's atmospherics and wrote, "Curtis Harrington constantly aims for an atmosphere of otherworldly weirdness. He is considerably aided by the spookily unearthly presence of the green-skinned Florence Marly. There is a real jolt to the scene where Marly turns into the camera from drinking from Dennis Hopper with her eyes glowing, and an incredibly eerie scene where she advances on Robert Boon, appearing and suddenly vanishing in a darkened corridor. Vilis Lapenieks’s gaudy Technicolor photography exploits Marly’s green skin makeup job for all it can."[9]

Director Curtis Harrington felt Ridley Scott's original Alien (1979) must have got some inspiration from Queen of Blood, saying "Ridley's film is like a greatly enhanced, expensive and elaborate version of Queen of Blood.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p240-241
  2. ^ Queen of Blood at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Diamond in Rough of Film Life Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 31 Jan 1966: c15.
  4. ^ Curtis Harrington: Living in Dangerous Houses By Harvey F. Chartrand, DVD Drive In accessed 3 September 2013
  5. ^ a b c "Retrospective in Terror: An Interview with Curtis Harrington - April 2005". The Terror Trap. 
  6. ^ Fred Olen Ray, The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors, McFarland, 1991, p 54
  7. ^ Games' Men Hold Good Hand Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Nov 1966: 22.
  8. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. "Ozus' World Movie Reviews", film review, March 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Scheib, Richard. The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review, review, December 2, 2009.

External links[edit]