ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1 enhanced for widescreen TVs
RUNNING TIME: 81 minutes
RATING: Not rated
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
The DVD is offered as part of MGM’s “Limited Edition Collection” on DVD, which are available from select online retailers and are manufactured only when the DVD is ordered. The DVD features a simple menu with no menu for chapters or scenes. Chapters are set every ten minutes. Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVDs will play in DVD playback units only and may not play in DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD did not play in our laptop DVD drive but did play in our Toshiba DVD recorder.
American astronauts on a rescue mission to Mars find a sole survivor: an alien woman, who turns out to be much more dangerous than she appears to be. John Saxon, Judi Meredith, and Dennis Hopper play the astronauts. Sherlock Holmes himself, Basil Rathbone, stars as head scientist Dr. Farraday. Florence Marly plays the unnamed “Queen of Blood.”
Written and directed by: Curtis Harrington
Producer: George Edwards
This movie, from 1966, is one of several low-budget science fiction flicks from the time released by American International Pictures. It mixes some decent special effect shots from some Russian sci-fi movies with some scenes featuring American actors. Basically, if the visuals look great, it is from the Russian movies. If it looks cheesy, or someone is speaking, it’s the American additions.
Even with the low budget, somehow the movie works. John Saxon is a serviceable leading man, and Dennis Hopper, as usual, plays the laid-back, fun-loving rogue who seems to be the only one having a good time. Keep an eye out for two cameos: first, the legendary Forrest J. Ackerman as Farraday’s aide, and second, the iconic sound effects from War of the Worlds are used when the spaceship encounters a sunburst.
The overall cheesiness actually helps the film; had it taken itself any more seriously, it wouldn’t have been as entertaining. The plot actually resembles Ridley Scott’s Alien: once the astronauts pick up the alien woman and try to take her to earth, she begins picking off members of the crew one by one. At 81 minutes, the movie doesn’t have much of a chance to drag, and the story chugs right along at a nice pace. Florence Marly, as the “Queen of Blood,” makes the whole thing work. She brings a creepiness that covers up the lapses in logic and elevates the film from B-movie status. Queen of Blood is much more fun than should be. By the way, don’t let the new DVD cover (with black and white photo) fool you: the movie is in color.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video presentation on the standard DVD varies between below average to quite good. A disclaimer on the DVD announces that it is produced from the best film sources available. Since this is a low-budget film, I didn’t expect a great film print, and at times, there is significant dirt and other specks visible in the transfer. The high amount of grain affects the sharpness at times, but colors are distinctive if not vivid. The Russian special effects clips aren’t the best quality, but for a film from the 1960s, the overall video presentation is much better than I expected. The sound is essentially a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix, which gives voices proper clarity. For a film from this era, it is the best quality we can get, and it works just fine.
BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?
OVERALL GRADE: B-
Sci-fi fans (as well as B-movie fans), I have three words: BUY BUY BUY! You will love this movie, despite the shortcomings. Even without any extras, this is a must-have, especially if you can pick it up on sale. This isn’t a landmark film, but if you don’t think too hard, you will have some cheesy fun. You will yell at your television wondering why these people don’t have more sense, and at some point, you’ll laugh when you shouldn’t, which is what makes it fun. Get hopped up on Pepsi and Raisinettes and spend a Saturday afternoon with the Queen of Blood.
Queen of Blood is now available on DVD MOD (Manufacture On Demand) from online retailers through Fox Home Video.