The first time I saw Queen of Blood was in the late seventies when I was a teenager on a double bill with Night Tide another great Curtis Harrington classic at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle Wa. I loved the way Roger Corman would buy obscure Polish and Russian Science Fiction films and make a new film around them. This was very inspiring to me, I also loved the sets, costumes, colors and lighting in this film. I always loved the atmospheric tone in Harrington’s work. You will see a young Dennis Hopper before his slide into drug crazed madness. So if you have some time to kill go grab a beer and sit back and enjoy a film made in a time when filmmakers would edit their films on upright Moviolas – enjoy
Queen of Blood is a 1966 color science fiction-horror film based on the screenplay for an earlier, Soviet film called Mechte Navstrechu. It was produced by George Edwards and Samuel Z. Arkoff, directed by Curtis Harrington, and starring John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, Dennis Hopper, and Judi Meredith. The film was released by American International Pictures as part of a double bill with the AIP feature Blood Bath. Director Harrington crafted this B-movie using footage from the Soviet feature films Mechte Navstrechu and Nebo Zovyot.
The year is 1990, and space travel is well-established since humans first landed on the Moon twenty years earlier. At the International Institute of Space Technology, communications expert and astronaut Laura James monitors strange signals being received from outer space. Laura’s superior, Dr. Farraday, translates the signal and discovers that it is from an alien race, who are sending an ambassador to Earth. Soon after, however, Laura receives a video log showing that the aliens’ spaceship has crashed-landed on Mars.
The Institute launches a rescue mission aboard the spaceship Oceano, which includes Laura and astronauts Anders Brockman and Paul Grant. Oceano travels through a sunburst, suffering some damage, before completing the journey to Mars and locating the downed alien craft. Anders and Paul investigate and discover a single dead alien aboard. Faraday deduces that the surviving crew may have been rescued, so an observation satellite will be needed to locate the alien rescue ship. Laura’s fiancé Allan and fellow astronaut Tony volunteer. They travel on the spaceship Meteor to Phobos, one of the two moons of Mars, where they launch the observation satellite. Tony finds an alien spaceship on Phobos. He and Allan are able to enter, finding an unconscious but still-living female alien. As their rescue ship holds only two, one of them must stay behind, so they toss a coin and Tony stays.
Allan and the female alien arrive on Oceano, joining Laura, Paul and Anders. The alien regains consciousness and smiles at the three men, but not Laura. The alien refuses to eat all food offered and will not let Anders take a blood sample. That night, as Paul is guarding the alien, she attacks and kills him, draining his blood after first hypnotizing him. The surviving astronauts decide to keep her alive by feeding her blood from the ship’s plasma supply. When this supply runs out, she kills Anders and feeds on him, leaving Laura and Allan the only humans aboard.
The alien then attacks Allan, but Laura interrupts her before she can kill again. Laura scratches her in the struggle, and the alien screams in terror, quickly bleeding to death. Laura and Allen then find alien eggs hidden aboard. Allan hypothesizes that she was royalty, likely a queen (assuming human-like inbreeding among royalty, hence her hemophilia), and was being sent to Earth in order to breed. Their spaceship lands safely, but Earth authorities decide to study the alien eggs rather than destroying them outright, as Allan has urged.
Harrington had made his name with the feature Night Tide, which impressed Roger Corman enough to offer the director a film project. “Of course, I would like to do a more individual film than Queen of Blood”, said Harrington at the time, “but I can’t get the financing. However, the film is entertaining, and I feel I was able to say something within the context of the genre.” Queen of Blood was made using special effects from the Soviet film A Dream Come True, but director Harrington estimated that 90% of the film was his.
Czech actor Florence Marly was a personal friend of director Harrington. He later said that he had to fight with Roger Corman in order to hire her “because she was an older woman. I’m sure he had some bimbo in mind, you know? So I fought for Marley because I felt she had the required exotic quality that would work in the role.” Harrington also said Dennis Hopper “was like a part of my little team by then,” so he agreed to also appear.
John Saxon later claimed that Gene Corman had more to do with Queen of Blood than Roger. Saxon estimated that his scenes were shot in seven to eight days and that Dennis Hopper “was trying very hard to keep a straight face throughout” during the making of the film.
“Basil Rathbone had one day (on the set),” added Saxon. “I think it was the last appearance he ever made in a film. He came on and he was a very, very distinguished gentleman. He did his scene. But he got annoyed, because they didn’t get the sound right on his first take, and they asked him to come back. He dressed down the director.”
Basil Rathbone was paid $1,500 to act for a day and a half on Queen of Blood, and $1,500 for half a day on Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965), another film that incorporated Russian film footage. Rathbone ended up working overtime and missed a meal. The Screen Actors Guild demanded overtime pay, plus a fine for the meal violation, but producer George Edwards produced footage that showed the delay was because Rathbone had not memorized all his lines and insisted on skipping lunch.
According to one account, the budget for this and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet came to $33,052 Another said the film cost $65,000.