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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Queen of Blood (Blu-ray)
Queen of Blood (Blu-ray)
Kino // Unrated // December 1, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted November 25, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
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The Movie:

Queen Of Blood is one of those odd American International Pictures/Roger Corman anomalies, the likes of which just don't get made anymore. As the story goes, Roger Corman saw some nifty footage of space ships made for a pair of Russian science fiction films. He was impressed enough with what he saw that the gears started turning and soon enough he bought the footage. This material found its way back to AIP where he had writer/direcor Curtis Harrington whip up a quick script to incorporate it. A few days later, Queen Of Blood was born.

Set in the distant future of 1990 (ha!), the film begins when a scientist named Dr. Farraday (the great Basil Rathbone) picks up some radio signals from an alien ship that is on its way to visit our planet. Unfortunately the ship crashes on Mars, and Farraday has to set up a rescue team. He puts together a trio of astronauts: Laura James (Judi Meredith), Paul Grant (a young Dennis Hopper) and Anders Brockman (Robert Boon). From there, he sends them out to Mars to see what they can see, but what they see isn't much and there were apparently no survivors. A second ship, piloted by Laura's hunky boyfriend Allan Brenner (John Saxon), makes a second visit and is more successful in their attempt in that he actually finds an alien. Soon enough, Alan joins up with Laura and her crew to transport the unconscious alien back to Earth for further studies.

When they get back to Earth, the curvy green skinned female alien (Florence Marly) turns out to have a thirst for human blood and, to complicate matters further, she's also got the ability to hypnotize human victims into giving it to her. It's going to be up to Allan and the rest of the team to stop her before she lays waste to everyone around her!

While the inserted footage from the aforementioned Russian films does stick out like a big swollen sore thumb, Harrington actually deserves a good bit of credit for managing to craft a story that incorporates that footage without bringing the film to a jarring halt. The film's low budget is obvious throughout but some creative filmmaking helps to make this one a whole lot of fun. Additionally, the excellent use of color makes this a treat for the eyes and it's a genuinely good looking movie with plenty of eye candy to keep things interesting to look at. The effects are handled reasonably well here, at least in comparison to other low budget sci-fi films of the era, and Harrington's film has the benefit of an excellent cast.

Speaking of which, Dennis Hopper is a lot of fun in his supporting role here. He doesn't go over the top as he would in so many films later in his career but he's still got some obvious energy and enthusiasm. It's also interesting to see him pop up in a science fiction B-movie. Basil Rathbone is always a kick, particularly in movies like this. He doesn't get as much screen time as his prominent screen credit would make you think he would, but he's good in the part and his undeniable screen presence is put to good use in the film.

The real stars of the show, however, are John Saxon and Florence Marly. Saxon is as suave and as charming as ever, a man's man and a perpetual stud. The ladies love him and he handles himself well in the action scenes. Meanwhile, Florence Marly just has a really commanding presence when she's all dolled up in her green face paint and beehive hairdo. Her alien get up may be a product of its time and look a little dated but you won't soon forget it. There's something very alien looking about her facial features and her eyes even without all the makeup on, so she's very well cast in this part. Ultimately, if the movie might be a bit hokey by modern standards, so be it. Queen Of Blood has got enough going for it that it's pretty tough not to have a good time with it. The film is very well-paced, it's stylish and it's just a whole lot of fun.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Queen Of Blood debuts on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen transfer. Colors are nice and bold and bright without looking too pumped up or artificially boosted, while skin tones look nice and lifelike. Black levels are strong and there are no problems with heavy print damage. The inserts where the Russian footage has been spliced in don't look quite as good as the other material and were probably shot on different stock, but aside from that there's nothing to complain about here and the picture is quite clean. The image is free of any compression artifacts and there are no noticeable issues with edge enhancement or noise reduction. Detail is improved considerably here over the previous MOD/DVD-R release that MGM put out as part of its Limited Edition Collection a few years ago, as is depth and texture. All in all, this is quite a nice looking transfer of some very colorful source material.

Sound:

The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono mix is also fine. There are no problems with the dialogue at all and the levels are well balanced. Some scenes are just a bit on the flat side but for an older feature, really, there's nothing to complain about here and we get more depth and better range, particularly where the score is concerned, than on the last release previously mentioned. There are no alternate language tracks nor are there any subtitles or closed captioning options provided here.

Extras:

The past DVD-R release was barebones but this time around, we get a few extras starting with a twenty-one minute long featurette called The Russians Are Coming: Robert Skotak On Queen Of Blood. In this piece, Skotak (a noted special effects technician and writer/film historian) discusses the boom in Russian science fiction movies that took place during the space race years before then going into some interesting detail about how Corman got his hands on the footage that is used in this feature. He also talks about Harrington's involvement directing the picture, about the costumes featured in the movie, the editing and then the effects work featured in the film. It's pretty interesting stuff and Skotak is enthusiastic enough about the movie to make this well worthwhile. Producer Roger Corman himself shows up in a second featurette that runs six and a half minutes. Here he tells the same story about seeing and then acquiring the Russian footage and then putting Queen Of Blood together with Harrington, but as we get it all in his own words, this is also worth watching. He also shares his thoughts on the cast and the performances featured in the picture.

Outside of that we get a theatrical trailer for the feature, static menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Saxon and Rathbone are fun, Florence Marly is unforgettable and the direction is decent here. Lots of great sets and set pieces, some endearing and entertaining performances and loads of weird atmosphere make Queen Of Blood a blast. Kino's Blu-ray reissue offers up a nice upgrade in the audio and video departments and some interesting new extra features as well. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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