Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #23: Queen of Blood

The Year: 1990

In the far-flung future of stock footage and quilted coats, Mars proves to be a planet of matte paintings, miniatures, and deedleboppers. Queen of Blood is a great lousy movie, perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Frequently (and always unintentionally) funny, this is the finest in inventive low-budget film-making from the Roger Corman school. Curtis Using plenty of stock special effects footage from some Russian Sci-Fi films and (from the looks of it) almost no money except "paper moon money," this is a heaven of cardboard sets and lousy science.

Basil Rathbone sends Dennis Hopper and the helmet-haired Judi Meredith to investigate an SOS from outer space. Having a ride so bumpy they need "oxygenator tablets" to perk themselves up at arrival, they find a crashed alien ship with a dead alien. Our hero, John Saxon, leads a second mission to follow his girlfriend (Meredith), in an oddly convoluted scenario seemingly designed to make the most use out of all the borrowed effects footage, and pad for time. Saxon lands on Mars' moon, Phobos, and finds a second ship, this one with a very alive passenger. Saxon brings along this unconscious alien girl ti rendezvous with first ship, where she quickly becomes a bad influence over the menfolk.

Florence Marley's green-skinned "Queen" smiles like the Cheshire cat, regally and silently seducing Hopper then leaving him for dead. This immediately begs the question: "Why don't they toss her ass into space?"

Instead they (constructively) feed her plasma and keep her around, then act all shocked when she then kills the other guy who's name I never caught. This actually diffuses the tension, leaving her alone with the alpha couple of Meredith and Saxon. The "rules" of sixties movies insures they'll be together at the end of the day, even if said ending is surprisingly downbeat.

Marley, who reminds one of Susan Clark rocking the weird up-do Lisa Marie sported in Mars Attacks, is actually quite ominous in a wordless performance. Covered in greasepaint and latex gloves, she plays a mannered alien who makes no bones about what she is.

Queen of Blood isn't very good by most standards, yet is easy on the eyes and highly watchable. There's something mesmerizing to the candy-colored Russian footage, reminsicent of Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampire. Worlds are green and purple, or ominously orange, while pink light through glass seems to define alien technology. The flat Harrington footage can't hope to compete, but at least attempts to match it. The pacing here isn't swift but goes for steady, in the end, entertains. Predictable, silly, highly entertaining, Queen of Blood is a campy and rewarding watch.

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