Queen of Blood

| April 23, 2011

A low-budget science fiction/ horror opus from the long-defunct American International comes in a bare-bones packaging from MGM/UA ironically as part of their Limited Signature Collection. For some reason this reviewer assumed that were a title to be part of a series designated as a Limited Edition item that there would be supplements included to prompt voracious viewers looking to kill time by devouring Queen of Blood. Curtis Harrington’s offering while not a truly disappointing offering, is something which is more to be appreciated by die-hard devotees of the genre. Neophyte audiences might find this to be a dated, lackluster laugh fest–and perhaps some die-hards will chuckle too.
While offering far less sturdy production values than some of the 1965 Mario Bava film Planet of the Vampires, which had a bigger budget (albeit $40,000 more), cinemaphiles will probably be keen to see the likes of the prolific John Saxon leading a mission to Mars, Dennis Hopper as one of his subordinates, former big screen Sherlock Holmes Basil Rathbone in one of his last cinematic undertakings, and the legendary Forrest J. Ackerman–the latter best known by science fiction die hards for his talents as a writer, actor and genre raconteur. Intercepting a transmission of alien origin, Saxon and company travel to the fourth planet from the Sun where they encounter the title character (Florence Marly, whose character is identified in the credits by a question mark, much like Boris Karloff was initially when he was credited in the 1931 classic Frankenstein) who initially is not seen as someone to be perceived as a threat. In due time, she will prove to be a presence that should have been left on Mars
No doubt some will recall Tobe Hooper’s similar tale Lifeforce (1985) or an episode of the short-lived late 1970s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. It might make for an interesting double bill among genre enthusiasts with the aforementioned Bava film, though his effort is a bit more impressive than Harrington’s Queen of Blood. Today’s audiences who have seen the cosmos chronicled in many documentaries and news reports over the years probably won’t be impressed, unlike those who were alive and aware when the space program was in its infancy and what lay ahead in the final frontier was basically unknown to us. It’s quite tame compared to the likes of Alien, which makes for far better viewing.

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