Saturday Night Drive-In

This weekend I’ve got a double feature movie review for your Halloween viewing pleasure. They are of course B movies – what else – and this week’s theme is Vampires! And is it just me, but is the market getting saturated with vampires?  Yeah, well these are not the new breed of Vampires by a long shot!

First up we have a little movie called “Queen of Blood”

queenofbloddSee how cool this movie poster is . . . yeah that’s the first thing that caught my eye too. But, still I was skeptical. Then I saw that Basil Rathbone was in it, so that sort of clinched the deal for me, I decided to take a chance and see what this movie had to offer.

The title sequence is interesting – there is a series of paintings by someone named John Cline – and they made me think of some “Night Gallery” episode, so I settled in and vowed to watch the whole thing through. On the positive side, this movie reminded me of a lot of good things – Night Gallery,  the original Star Trek  series, and old horror comic books – all things I love.

This was an ultra low budget production. The elaborate special effects were taken (uncredited) from two big budget Soviet productions, _Mechte Navstrechu (1963)_, and _Nebo Zovyot (1960)_.

Here is a quick synopsis of the movie from IMBd,

The year is 1990. An alien species makes contact with Earth through radio transmission, notifying of an imminent visit. Alien ship crash lands on Mars, and a rescue team is sent out from Earth. (The plot thickens! 🙂 Eventually a surviving female is located and brought on to the human ship. The female is light green with an amazing hair-do. After some unsuccessful attempts by the human crew to feed her, she is more or less left to herself. (Ominous, is it not?) While most of the crew sleeps, the Alien female hypnotizes the astronaut on guard. When the crew awakens, she is sleeping, and the guard is DEAD! Brief examination shows that the Alien ate his blood. THE QUEEN OF BLOOD! Naturally, there is a lot of blood plasma on the ship, so they feed the alien using that supply. When they are almost home, however, yet another crew member is eaten, a fight breaks out, and the alien is accidentally killed before she can finish the third guy. Phew! The ship lands on Earth, finally! But there is trouble… The two remaining astronauts find a lot of eggs when they are about to leave the ship. Obviously the alien was a kind of bee-queen whose sole purpose was to spread their species to Earth, where there is a lot of yummy food… One of the astronauts tries to warn the arriving scientists of this danger, but they could not care less. Being scientists, they know what they are doing, so they collect the eggs and run happily along. The astronaut sums it up: “Well, at least I TRIED…”

The downer of this movie is that they had some great actors working here Basil Rathbone, Dennis Hopper and John Saxon – but they were completely under utilized.  The dialog is fairly lame, the sets look like someone set up some okay props in my basement. I kept thinking, “WOW those are some SPACIOUS space ships! ”  and “WOW! Who knew it took so few gadgets to fly a ship to Mars?”  I’m surprised they didn’t just throw a steering wheel on a silver painted cardboard box and call it good.queen-of-blood

On the other hand, the costumes were pretty retro cool, and the alien vampire queen that they rescue from Mars is really striking and spooky. The special effect that they did with her eyes was cool looking too.  So there’s a lot of comic book charm that makes up for the other lame-o elements of the movie.

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I recommend giving it whirl! Queen of Blood gets 2 out of 5 B-moviestar kisses.  2kisses

The second movie in our double feature is THE VAMPIRE!

thevampire

Just before Dr Matthew Campbell [Wood Romoff] dies, he passes on the product of his long years of animal research to Dr Paul Beecher [John Beal] . “It’s the pills,” he whispers. When Beecher gets a migraine, his daughter Betsy [Lydia Reed] mistakenly gives him one of the pills. That night, Beecher sleeps soundly but Marion Wilkins [Ann Staunton] is bitten by a vampire. When she is examined the next morning by Beecher, she gets hysterical and has a heart attack.

Dr Will Beaumont [Dabs Greer] comes from the university to investigate Campbell’s work. He knows only that it involved base instincts and some sort of addicting pills that change the brain chemistry after only one dose. The pills must then be taken every 24 hours or the ‘animal’ goes crazy. More people begin to die. They all have two puncture wounds on their throats and appear to have died from ‘capillary destruction’. Sheriff Buck Donally [Kenneth Tobey] gets suspicious and exhumes the bodies only to find them in a severe state of ‘cellular destruction’. Some virus, apparently introduced by the neck wounds, is eating their tissue.  [Original synopsis by bj_kuehl]

I was more hopeful for this movie than I was for Queen of Blood. The cast is solid and the budget was obviously higher, the only thing missing was a VAMPIRE. I guess the creature that Dr. Beecher turns into is supposed to be a vampire but it’s actually more like Jekyll and Hyde – and some parts even reminded me of the wolf-man stories. Dr. Beecher is agonized over his transformations enough to give Lon Chaney Jr. a run for his money, that’s for sure.  I did enjoy watching this movie overall, it’s a tale of something terrible lurking in a peaceful beaver cleaver town.  It’s worth checking out! B-moviestar gives this movie 3 of 5 kisses.3kisses