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The Spin Sheet

DVD-R review by David Steigman of The Digital Bits

Queen of Blood (DVD-R)

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Queen of Blood
1966 (2011) - MGM (MGM Limited Edition Collection)
Released on DVD-R March 15th, 2011

Dolby Digital

Film Rating: C
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/F

In the 1960's, science fiction movie lovers were treated to various space sagas. Most of them were low budget, but were still entertaining nonetheless. The use of Technicolor made them more interesting, helping to give these films a psychedelic look. Movies like The Angry Red Planet, Battle Beyond the Sun, First Spaceship on Venus, Planet of Storms and many others amazed and delighted fans around the world thanks to the use of vivid colors, wildly-imagined stories and quirky sound effects.

A few of them introduced us to new worlds, aliens and even vampires. Queen of Blood is such a tale.

Written and directed by Curtis Harrington (Devil Dog the Hound of Hell, Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo) this film (which is set in the year 1990) is about a group of astronauts who are summoned through a radio transmission to visit the planet Mars. There they find an unconscious alien woman, with a green face and bizarre beehive hairdo, and bring her aboard their spaceship. We soon find out that she needs human blood to survive and, slowly, the cast members are drained of their blood one by one.

The plot of Queen of Blood is reminiscent of titles like Teenagers from Outer Space and Devil Girl from Mars, with the "We've come to Earth to breed!" premise. It never works, of course, so you aliens better just quit trying to do it! Queen of Blood may also remind movie lovers partially of such films as Planet of the Vampires and First Spaceship on Venus in addition to the themes that were used in Devil Girl from Mars. This is due not just to the use of the color and funky sound effects, but the slight reference to vampirism as well.

Despite this being filmed on a low budget, we do get a pretty good ensemble of actors. Basil Rathbone - Sherlock Holmes himself - plays Dr. Farraday. You might also remember him from such films as Son of Frankenstein, Love from a Stranger, The Magic Sword and Tower of London, among countless others. The astronauts include John Saxon (no stranger to science fiction since he was in Night Caller from Outer Space, Battle Beyond the Stars, Planet Earth and the obscure Blood Beach), Dennis Hopper (from Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, Easy Rider, Mad Dog Morgan and Blue Velvet) Judi Meredith (Jack the Giant Killer) and Robert Boon (Sam Fuller's Verboten a.k.a. Forbidden). The alien woman is played by Florence Marly, who was in various episodes of The Twilight Zone TV series, as well as two films with the great Humphrey Bogart - Sirocco and Tokyo Joe. Look for a cameo from the late, great Famous Monsters magazine editor, Forrest J. Ackerman. The film also offers some really colorful scenery and special effects footage as the adventure progresses. These special effects - including rocket ship footage - were taken from films made in the Soviet Union, one of which Nebo Zovyot, was also used in Battle Beyond the Sun.

The transfer of this DVD-R is a very beautiful anamorphic widescreen presentation (1:85:1) that holds up pretty well despite some film grain here and there. Overall, this disc should please those who have only seen the film in full frame release. On top of that, this is the uncut version of the film, with a running time of 81 minutes. Audio quality on the disc is solid as well. There are no extras.

Overall, Queen of Blood is a decent film, considering its low budget. It does take awhile to get going, but once we see the alien (and a bit of gore too), we get a few chills and thrills. Curtis Harrington crafts a great sense of mood and is able to form a fairly coherent story, shot around scenes lifted from other films (from other countries no less!). For those of you who (like me) enjoy such psychedelic and colorful B-grade science fictions films, this one should not disappoint.

David Steigman
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