It’s the year 1990 and scientists receive a distress call from an alien spaceship that has crash-landed on Mars. Dr Farraday (Rathbone) decides to send a team of astronauts, including Allan Brenner (Saxon) and Paul Grant (Hopper), on a rescue mission. On the planet, they discover just one survivor. This green-skinned alien is brought aboard, but when one man is attacked and drained of his blood, the survivors are soon racing home, before they too become victim to the bloodsucker. —IMDb
Curtis Harrington (September 17, 1926 – May 6, 2007) was an American film and television director whose work included experimental films, horror films, and episodic television.
Harrington was born in Los Angeles and attended Occidental College and the University of Southern California and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a film studies degree.
He began his career as a film critic, writing a book on Josef von Sternberg in 1948. He directed several avant-garde short films in the 1940s and ‘50s, including Fragment of Seeking, Picnic, and The Wormwood Star (a film study of the artwork of Marjorie Cameron). Harrington worked with Kenneth Anger, serving as a cinematographer on Anger’s Puce Moment and acting in Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.
Harrington had cameo roles in films such as Orson Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind and Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters. (Harrington knew James Whale… read more
Aka, *Lifeforce: The Prequel*, with Dennis Hopper as a more-than-adequate Steve Railsback stand-in. It lacks the willingness to show the gore of the actual vampire attacks, the real-time scenes of the queen "gorging" on her victims "like a boa constrictor" and for that it suffers in comparison to other sci-fi/gore landmarks from the same era (*Caltiki* comes to mind). Its strengths show up in the set design and
art direction, esp. in the first half of the movie. Also the scenes outside the ship on Mars, esp. during the wind storm. These scenes look like sequences I've seen in every Mars movie since (whether this is because *Queen of Blood* has been that influential, or because people have run out of ideas when it comes to movies on Mars I don't know).
The fact that the film skips any sort of happy ending and instead replaces it with the promise of more horror for the inhabitants of Earth--John Saxon's character has tried to convince Basil Rathbone's scientist to destroy the gelatinous, pulsing tray of "vampire babies" that is the movie's last shot, but just gets brushed off (his girlfriend hollowly assures him: "They're scientists, Alan. They know what they're doing.")--seems sophisticated for the time and actually nudges me toward preferring it to better-known films like *Forbidden Planet* (though the scope of that movie obviously exceeds this one). (The form taken by the vampire's offspring also reminds me quite a bit of the original *Thing from Another World*.) And there's something experimental going on with the editing, almost avant-garde I'd say, if I didn't suspect that it might be lack of skill instead. Will be interesting to compare it to Bava's *Planet of the Vampires* once I check it out.