Fifty years ago, director Curtis Harrington helped usher in a new era of terror by combining horror with space. He did not invent the genre, but he indeed helped shape it. Despite his minimal budgets, Harrington still managed to draw big names into his films. And although his name is associated with several classic low-budget films, I would wager QUEEN OF BLOOD is probably one of his most notorious. Crammed full of top-notch special effects taken from a lesser known Russian film, QUEEN OF BLOOD is still a visionary foundation on which future films like ALIEN and LIFEFORCE would be based.
If you are not familiar with QUEEN OF BLOOD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cheezy Flicks:
It’s the year 1990 and scientists receive a distress call from an alien spaceship that has crash-landed on Mars. Dr Farraday (Basil Rathbone) decides to send a team of astronauts, including Allan Brenner (John Saxon) and Paul Grant (Dennis Hopper), on a rescue mission. On the planet, they discover just one survivor. This green-skinned alien is brought aboard, but when one man is attacked and drained of his blood, the survivors are soon racing home, before they too become victim to the bloodsucker.
The name of the Russian film from which the special effects shots were taken is MESHTE NASTRESHU. I would love to give this film a look, as the effects appear truly excellent onscreen. Yet, my efforts to track down a copy of the film have been unsuccessful. Still, it’s evident to see why Harrington chose to use them for his film; they are a beautiful accent to the plot.
QUEEN OF BLOOD looks great from a cinematography aspect, however I wish I could watch a restored HD version of the film. The landscapes and painted backdrops are lush and vibrant, yet watching a low-resolution DVD on an HD television just makes them dull and grainy. Still, you cannot deny what Harrington achieved here, and the results could be breathtaking if restored properly.
The acting is actually quite good, with a cast made up of some well known names. Basil Rathbone is probably one of the most recognized names in the history of Hollywood, while John Saxon and Dennis Hopper have both made their marks as well. The rest of the cast does a fine job, better than many of the B-grade movies I’ve seen from that time period.
QUEEN OF BLOOD is a great film from yesteryear, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend giving it a look, if anything to see some great performances from some of Hollywood’s older elite. The film is available now.