Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Cool Wi-Fi TV Movie Alert: Queen of Blood (1966)

This is a very cool movie with a great back-story. It’s up on the YouTube, and it looks very good. There are some wavy distortions running through it from time to time, but it’s a sci-fi movie, so it all looks very normal. The color is good. 

It’s a B-movie, for sure, but it does have John Saxon and Dennis Hopper to recommend it. Not to mention Basil Rathbone. The three of them really showed up for work here too, no fooling around, no sleep-walking.

Of all the God-Damned things, it’s based on a Soviet film called “Mechte Navstrechu.” Scenes from Mechte Navstrechu and also scenes from another soviet movie called “Nebo Zoryot” were used in Queen of Blood. They look great, too, and they really add to the movie. Those are the great scenes of planetary surfaces and spherical spacecraft, the real sci-fi touches.

Forrest Ackerman is also in the film. Forrest was in a few films, but he was mostly famous for being a sci-fi gadfly. He was a literary agent to sci-fi writers, he did some sci-fi writing, and he put out the rather good magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland for many years. He appears in quite a few scenes in the movie, but he has no lines. If I had to guess, I’d say maybe he never got his SAG card. (Screen Actors Guild.) 

The soundtrack is occasionally Theremin based, but that might only be for scenes lifted from the Soviet films.

Somehow, aliens come into radio contact with people from the earth, notably the great scientist played by Basil Rathbone. Rocket ships go to Mars to retrieve an alien ship. They come across a survivor, the very Queen of Blood from the title. She blood-loves Hopper and another guy to death, and almost gets John Saxon, too, but the female astronaut, who happens to be Saxon’s girlfriend, puts the kibosh on that and scratches the Queen across the neck and back.  Big plot point, that.

There are some interesting points that suggest that by 1966 people were coming to grips with the newness of space and etc. After they realize that the Queen just wants to feed on their blood, the chief scientist on the spaceship says, sure, she’s a monster, but we know nothing of her moral constructs or mores. That kind of thinking was new. 

Lots of the old attitudes remain, though. After being scratched, the Queen dies. John Saxon examines her and says, wow, she bled to death! She was a hemophiliac! Maybe she was royalty!

Oh, you know, the Queen is dead but she left eggs all over the place. Basil Rathbone and the rest of the scientists are strangely blasé about the eggs, bringing them straight to Earth for examination. No suggestion of a sequel, though. They just leave it all hanging.

John Saxon was always pretty good in these movies, and this is no exception. Basil Rathbone brings his A-game here, and it really does elevate the movie a bit. Dennis Hopper is very engaging in a role that would have been called on Star Trek, “crewman number seven.” The entire cast is fine, and the movie is very entertaining from beginning to end. “Directed and Written” by Curtis Harrington, and it was a good job both ways.   

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