Queen of Blood (1966)


(director/writer: Curtis Harrington; screenwriter: from the story Mechte Nastreshu (“A Dream Comes True”) by Mikhail Karzhukov & Otar Koberidze; cinematographer: Vilis Lapenieks; editor: Leo H. Shreve; music: Leonard Morand; cast: John Saxon (Allan Brenner), Judi Meredith (Laura James), Florence Marly (The Queen), Robert Boon (Anders Brockman), Dennis Hopper (Paul Grant), Basil Rathbone (Dr Farraday), Forrest J Ackerman (Farraday’s aide), Don Eitner (Tony Barratta); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George Edwards; Something Weird Video (SWV); 1966)

“Even though it drags its feet through most of the voyage, it still manages to deliver some chills come climax time.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Roger Corman bought some footage from a big-budget 1959 Russian film, Mechte Nastreshu, and financed Queen of Blood on a meager $65,000 budget, filming it in seven and a half days. Writer-director Curtis Harrington (“Night Tide”/”What’s the Matter with Helen?”/”Ruby”) devised a new storyline which had nothing to do with the old one. The filmmaker used the Russian footage, utilizing their special effects. Harrington turned it into a modest sci-fi/horror tale, with limited entertainment value.

It’s set in 1990. At the International Institute Of Space Technology, Laura James (Judi Meredith) doubles as communications expert and astronaut. While monitoring for space signals, she picks up some unexplained signals from outer space and the project’s head, Dr Farraday (Basil Rathbone), claims they are an alien race’s attempt at communication. Later Dr Farraday addresses the Institute’s staff to announces that the signal has been translated to mean an alien race is sending someone to Earth for a friendly visit. Shortly afterwards Laura gets a video log showing that the aliens crashland on Mars. Dr Farraday determines that the Oceano will be launched from the moon station to carry supplies to the downed alien astronauts in Mars. It will be commanded by Anders Brockman (Robert Boon), with Paul Grant (Dennis Hopper) and Laura being the other astronauts on board. When they reach Mars, they discover a dead astronaut and that the other astronaut survived but took a rescue ship to one of the other moons of Mars. Brave astronauts Allan Brenner (John Saxon) and Tony Barratta (Don Eitner) talk Farraday into sending them on the Meteor spaceship to one of the moons on Mars, where they will launch an observation satellite to find the alien rescue ship. They succeed and find an unconscious green-skinned humanoid woman with iridescent eyes on Phobos and place her on the Oceano, where Alan joins his girlfriend Laura for the flight back to Earth with their valuable cargo and Tony remains on the Meteor waiting to be rescued by the Oceano II–set to be launched fairly soon. But wouldn’t you know it, the alien is likened to a queen bee who dines on blood and she starts doing her vampire thing on a few of the astronauts after putting them into a trance when they look at her shining eyes. The scientists in the end explain to us that these tricky vampire extraterrestrials only came to Earth because their planet is dying out and they need a new food source, but they preserve the eggs the Queen brought back to Earth. The astronauts are left to assume that the scientists know what they are doing because they are scientists–which is the funniest line in the film.

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.