|Queen of Blood|
|Directed by||Curtis Harrington|
|Screenplay by||Curtis Harrington|
|Based on||story A Dream Come True|
by Mikhail Karyukov
|Music by||Leonard Moran|
|Edited by||Leo H. Shreve|
Cinema West Productions
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
|Box office||$17.3 million (as at 1 Oct 1966)|
Queen of Blood (a.k.a. Planet of Blood) is a 1966 color science fiction-horror film, produced by George Edwards and Samuel Z. Arkoff, directed by Curtis Harrington, that stars John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, Dennis Hopper, and Judi Meredith. The film is based on the screenplay for the earlier Soviet feature film Mechte Navstrechu (A Dream Come True). Director Harrington also reused special effects footage from that film, as well as footage from the Soviet science fiction film Nebo Zovyot (Battle Beyond the Sun).
Queen of Blood was released by American International Pictures as a double feature with Blood Bath. Director Curtis Harrington felt that Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) must have received some inspiration from his earlier feature, saying "Ridley's film is like a greatly enhanced, expensive and elaborate version of Queen of Blood".
An alien species contacts Earth saying that they are journeying across the galaxy to make formal contact with humanity. Their interstellar starship crashes on Mars and an Earthship is dispatched to attempt a rescue. On Mars, they locate the downed spacecraft, but only a single dead alien humanoid is found aboard. They determine that an alien rescue shuttle left the Red Planet but crashed on nearby Phobos. A strange, green-skinned woman is found alive aboard the shuttle's wreck. As they head back to Earth, the crew begins to die, drained of their blood.
The year is 1990. 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' starship has crash-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 films Mechte Navstrechu (A Dream Come True) and Nebo Zovyot (Battle Beyond the Sun). Harrington made Queen of Blood back-to-back with Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, which also incorporated footage from the Soviet films. Both Harrington films starred Basil Rathbone.
Harrington says Corman, "wanted me to write a completely new framing story to use all the technical footage of a rocket flying through outer space, landing on another planet and all that. I then proceeded to write a script and created the idea of an outer space vampire-like creature.”
Harrington hired George Edwards to act as line producer. The director met Edwards when the latter produced a stage production of Tennessee Williams' The Garden District. They collaborated well together and would gone on to have a long professional relationship.
Corman's name does not appear on the final film. Harrington says this is because Queen of Blood was made with a non-union crew, and Corman had signed a contract to work with the unions.
Harrington says A Dream Come True was about a queen from another planet. He wanted to do a film about a vampire in outer space and had to make her female to match the Russian footage.
Czech actor Florence Marly was a personal friend of 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 also agreed to appear.
John Saxon would later appear in Battle Beyond the Stars, also financed by Corman.
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. He added in another interview "I took it seriously, at least while on camera; Dennis had a hard time doing even that."
"Basil Rathbone had one day (on the set)", added Saxon. "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. Harrington recalled Rathbone as "a great pro who regaled me of stories of Hollywood in the few minutes here and there between set ups".
Harrington says the sets were not ready on the first day of filming because "Roger had hired a bunch of hippies as set decorators and they were stoned all the time".
According to one account, the budget for this and Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet came to $33,052. Another said the films cost $65,000. Harrington has said they cost $60,000, then $50,000, though he admits not being sure.
Queen of Blood was released in the United States in March 1966. Even before the release, its quality was sufficient for Universal to hire Harrington and producer George Edwards to make the feature film Games.
On December 1, 2003, Queen of Blood was featured at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain.
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