Queen of Blood

Queen of Blood is basically Lifeforce without gratuitous nudity and Tobe Hooper's stiff direction. As a general rule, I welcome gratuitous nudity, but I can do without Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a fluke, if you ask me). Since the film was cobbled together in 1966, it doesn't need nudity to be entertaining. It's a loopy sci-fi picture from the golden age of cheese. Furthermore, it has a leg up on the competition before the opening credits roll. How? Look at that cast! John Saxon, Dennis Hopper, Basil Rathbone...this one should be a piece of cake. Oh, how I wish that it was a piece of cake.

In the only film where he doesn't play a police officer, John Saxon stars as an astronaut sent to check on an alien spaceship that crashed on its way to Earth. You see, NASA received transmissions from outer space, so they were expecting a close encounter of the benevolent kind. When the UFO turned out to be a no-show ("How rude!"), a group of white Americans were hurled through the troposphere to find out if there were any extraterrestrial survivors. Sure enough, an alien was spotted in a marooned ship on the surface of Phobos, a moon orbiting Mars. A queen of blood, to be exact.

Our royal vampire is a woman with green skin and curves that just won't quit. She hypnotizes her victims Lugosi-style. This probably sounds like one of the best films of all time, but I assure you that it's a frustrating, brain-draining endurance test. There are plot holes large enough to be used as glory holes. Enjoy that visual, by the way. The coolest special effects were taken from other films, so I can't give Queen credit for the nifty images on display. It was fun seeing Dennis Hopper in an early role, but his character is nondescript. No one reacts when the titular antagonist gorges on the plasma of a hapless casualty. The ending is anticlimactic. Clearly, I have several problems with this production, all of which can be traced back to Tobe Hooper.

That's right. I blame Tobe Hooper for all of this. I'm not sure how he managed to do it, but he desecrated what could have been a decent flick. Okay, maybe it wasn't his fault. Queen was written and directed by Curtis Harrington, so that's the guy I need to bash. He has a few films on his resume that I've been wanting to check out, namely Night Tide and The Killing Kind. In the interest of fairness, I won't hold this indiscretion against him. Queen of Blood is not the cult classic that I wanted it to be. Something tells me that my "theme month" idea was ill-conceived.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely don't dismiss Harrington based on this one. This is one of those quickies that AIP assembled out of pieces of various Russian sci-fi films they had gotten the rights to, so it's definitely not "auteur" work. The other Harrington films I've seen are much better, including the very twisted 'The Killing Kind'.