During last year’s Halloween series, I reviewed a film called “It! The Terror from Beyond Space.” Many point to this film as being a possible inspiration for Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” Today’s film is another which could’ve served as somewhat of an inspiration for that film. It was released in 1966 on a double bill with “Blood Bath,” which we reviewed just a few posts ago… “Queen of Blood.”
The film takes place in the far off future of 1990. Via footage pulled from a couple of Russian sci-fi films, we see an alien race which is preparing for a visit to Earth. These guys seem to be the friendly sort, even informing scientists on our planet of their plans. Dr. Farraday (Basil Rathbone) very excitedly tells the astronauts at the space institute the news of the historic visit.
Unfortunately, the alien ship crash lands on Mars while in route to our planet. Therefore, several teams of astronauts are dispatched to try and help our new alien friends. Among them are space sweeties Alan Brenner (John Saxon) and Laura James (Judi Meredith), plus Paul Grant (Dennis Hopper) and Anders Brockman (Robert Boon). Before long, Alan finds a single survivor of the alien wreckage, a green-skinned woman (Florence Marly).
The crew is all intrigued with this discovery and immediately plan to take her back to Earth. Paul is particularly taken with her, seeming to almost have somewhat of a crush on her. Wanting to try and do some study as they travel through space, they attempt to draw blood from their guest, but her response to the needle is one of extreme fear, so they decide against it. That night, Paul is left to keep an eye on the alien.
The next morning, Paul is found dead. The alien is found sleeping with blood dripping from her mouth. The astronauts determine that the alien attacked Paul and drank his blood. Apparently, she is some sort of space vampire. Despite this, Commander Brockman insists that they do what they can to keep the creature healthy so it can survive the trip to Earth. He decides that they with feed it with plasma they have on board, and when that runs out, each crew member will…shall we say, donate to the cause.
Things go fine for several weeks, but soon the alien begins to think the crew looks mighty tasty. She goes after Brockman first, hypnotizing him before draining him dry. Alan now wants to destroy the creature, but he and Laura tie her to a bed instead. But then, she uses some sort of heat vision to burn through the ropes before going after Alan. Ultimately though, the creature has bigger things in mind…planning to bring her race to the new feeding ground of Earth.
So, the similarities to “Alien” are pretty obvious. You’ve got a ship carrying an alien creature that is killing off the crew one by one. Some of the crew want to destroy it, others feel it is more important that the creature be studied. There is also the fact that the climactic battle with the creature is performed by the lead female character. Heck, even the alien’s space helmet looks a bit like the eggs from “Alien.”
For the most part, the film works really well. The story does drag a bit in the beginning as the film gets bogged down in stuff about who’s riding on which spaceship and such. But once the alien is on board, you’ve got some creepy intergalactic fun. The cast does a real solid job. Dennis Hopper was especially a stand-out for me, giving his character an interesting spin. He really does seem to be somewhat infatuated with the alien. The weak spot in the cast is, unfortunately, Basil Rathbone. How it pains me to say that. There are several moments where he struggles and stumbles over some of his lines. Sadly, this was one of his last films.
I was really impressed with the overall look of the film. This was not a big-budget production. I mean it’s an AIP release, produced by Roger Corman and Samuel Z Arkoff. But they got every cents worth on this one. The sets have a great look and they are photographed in creative ways. I also loved the way the colors really pop in this film. It leaves the viewers with very striking images in their minds. It’s also worth noting that the Russian footage that was used early in the film is also quite impressive. It meshes with the US footage quite well.
“Queen of Blood” is a creative and slick little sci-fi scarefest. It’s not without it’s weak moments, but the payoff is worth it.