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'Queen of Blood'
(John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, Judi Meredith, Dennis Hopper, et al / DVD / NR / 2011 / MGM)

Overview: When an alien ship crash-lands on Mars, a rescue ship sent to look for survivors. They find just one: an alien vampire, who starts killing the crew by sucking their blood.

DVD Verdict: Other than Forbidden Planet, this is probably one of the prettiest science-fiction epics you'll ever see. Each frame is composed in a painterly way, with unusual colors popping off the screen and a truly exceptional use of darkness in many of the scenes. The dark scenes are like watching Gordon Willis doing a space opera. The strange color details almost put Mario Bava to shame.

It's a good thing that this film is so interesting from a purely visual standpoint, because for the first 50 minutes absolutely NOTHING happens in it. And for the final 28 minutes not much happens in it.

Still, I imagine this film had its original audience on the edge of their seats, as there's a lot of protocol material establishing how the spaceship is going up, how it's going to land, how it's going to get back, etc. Since the USA was involved in a space race at the time, and anything remotely outer-spacian was guaranteed to draw an audience, this presents an intelligent and imaginative interpretation of the progress the States would achieve in the far distant future of 1990.

Plot-wise, not much, though there are some genuinely frightening scenes with Florence Marly as the Queen of Blood herself. Dennis Hopper doesn't have much to do, but he offers a number of quirky line deliveries that seem like he was taking it upon himself to make such leaden scripted lines interesting.

For those who love old-school science fiction, this is definitely worth a purchase; just don't expect too much action. Incidentally, Uncle Forry appears in the early scenes when the gang is first deciding to rendeveous on Mars. He has no lines, but he was still writing about his participation in the film in 1968 issues of Famous Monsters. [DLG] This is a Full Screen presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.MGM.com





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