Film (1966; vt Planet of Blood). Cinema West Productions. American version of Mechte Navstrechu (1963; vt A Dream Come True; vt Encounter in Space), directed by Curtis Harrington, starring John Saxon, Judi Meredith, Basil Rathbone, Robert Boon, Dennis Hopper, Don Eitner, Florence Marly. Written by Curtis Harrington. 81 minutes. Colour.
While this film is based on, and incorporates a great deal of footage from, the Soviet film Mechte Navstrechu, it is essentially a different film with mostly new footage, a different cast, and a radically revised story. For a while, it roughly follows the original film's plot: during preparations for a flight to Mars, Dr Farraday (Rathbone) announces that mysterious signals from a distant planet have been translated, announcing that an Alien Spaceship will soon reach Earth. However, when an object from space lands on Earth and is retrieved, its video records reveal that the spaceship has crash-landed on Mars. Soon, a rescue mission is launched with astronauts Anders Brockman (Boon), Paul Grant (Hopper), and Laura James (Meredith), though James's boyfriend Allan Brenner (Saxon) is left behind. After being threatened by a "sunburst", their spaceship lands on Mars but they do not have enough fuel to return to Earth; they also discover an alien spaceship with a single dead passenger and theorize that other aliens escaped in another spaceship. A second spaceship with Brenner and Tony Barrata (Eitner) is then sent to Mars and lands on Phobos, where they discover a spaceship with an alien woman who is still alive. While Barrata remains on Phobos (to be retrieved later by another spaceship), Brenner flies the alien woman to Mars, and they board the first spaceship for a return journey to Earth.Then, when Grant is discovered dead, the others learn that the alien woman is a Vampire who sucked all of his blood. For a while, they keep her at bay by feeding her blood plasma, but she eventually attacks and kills Brockman, using her hypnotic powers, and Brenner escapes the same fate only because James enters and scratches the alien in an effort to stop her, which makes her start bleeding uncontrollably until she dies. As they land on Earth, Brenner and James discover scores of alien eggs hidden on their spaceship, and while Brenner worries that the entire purpose of the alien flight was to invade Earth, Faraday and other Scientists (including a briefly glimpsed Forrest J Ackerman) calmly leave the spaceship carrying the eggs to be scientifically studied.
It is ironic that this bastardized version of Mechte Navstrechu effectively vindicates the propaganda of the Soviet original, which maintained that Americans would be irrationally fearful of aliens while Russians would correctly anticipate a friendly, benign race. Certainly, it makes no sense at all to worry that beings from a distant planet would depend upon a diet of human blood, or that they would attempt to conquer the Earth in order to obtain new victims, but this is precisely what Queen of Blood implausibly argues. Even in a minor respect, the film violates the spirit of the original by specifying that the astronaut left behind on Phobos will be rescued, unlike the Soviet astronaut who nobly sacrifices his own life. Since its message is so discordant with the film it is based on, it is only appropriate that its new footage does not really match the reused footage, allowing audiences to easily distinguish between what Harrington recycled and what he filmed; the Soviet alien, and the American alien, are especially and obviously dissimilar, further underlining the disrespect that this lamentable film displayed to its distinguished predecessor. [GW]
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