Queen of Blood (1966):

One of AIP's more decent sci-fi paste jobs, plundering a big-budget Commie space opera (Mechte Navstrechu, I think) and remixing it up with sub-Star Trek mockups and Roger Corman stablemates (John Saxon, Dennis Hopper, Basil Rathbone) decked out in bubble-boy gravity suits. Russian interplanetary epics were fertile toiling ground for scrambling 1960s upstarts (Francis Ford Coppola reshuffled Battle Beyond the Sun, while Peter Bogdanovich inserted Mamie Van Doren footage into Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women), and in this one Curtis Harrington serves the plot (a 1990-set collision between human astronauts and the eponymous alien monarch) with a deadpan style that is close to droll. Indeed, in its sangfroid appreciation of the ridiculous (actors gazing out of painted-on hatches, a cafeteria tray stacked with pulsating alien eggs), the film is closer to the spirit of Harrington maître Josef Von Sternberg than Games, the director's overt homage. Appropriately, Harrington finds his own Dietrich in Florence Marley's blood-sipping space vamp, whose sharp, green-tinted face and gray beehive bouffant promise kinkier frissons than the movie can deliver. With Judi Meredith, Robert Boon, and Forrest J. Ackerman.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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