Weird Review: Queen of the Damned

Journey into the world of vampires, as a tormented vamp named Lestat returns to unveil all the secrets of hidden world of vampires known as the “masquerade”. Except with that unveiling comes a price and an awakening of the oldest of vampires, Akasha.

Based on the third book of “The Vampire Chronicles”, written by infamous vampiric writer Anne Rice, “Queen of the Damned” opens with vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend) awakening from his decade old slumber in New Orleans. He is obsessed with being accepted among humans and bringing his fellow vamps into the forefront.

Lestat descends upon an unsuspecting “rock-n-roll” band and becomes their lead singer.

His lyrics scream with all the hidden secrets of vampires and that is noticed by a secret paranormal researcher, Jesse (Marguerite Moreau). Jesse begins to learn about Lestat’s hidden past and eventually stumbles upon the myth of Akasha (Aaliyah), Queen of the Damned. During Lestat’s immortal concert in “Death Valley” Jesse, Lestat and Akasha will collide and the world will hang in the balance.

This is the second film adapted from an Anne Rice vampire novel. The first was the classic 1994 vampire film, “Interview with the Vampire”, which starred Tom Cruise as Lestat. That film is still vivid in anyone’s mind that has seen it. With a cast that consisted of Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Stephen Rea, Antonio Banderas and directed by visionary director Neil Jordan, who could forget the tragic film.

In 2002’s “Queen of the Damned”, “About Adam” star Stuart Townsend picks up where Tom Cruise left the character of Lestat some 8 years ago. Townsend relishes in the role and by the time Townsend becomes a rock-star you have forgotten Cruise ever played the role. Townsend is mesmerizing to watch as he seems to become one with this vampiric persona.

His performance is electrifying.

Townsend’s co-star is the late R&B singer Aaliyah who died tragically on August 25th, 2001. When “Queen” opens it will be almost 6 months to the day of Aaliyah’s death and the performance she gives in the film dedicated to her is very memorable. Aaliyah’s Akasha is voracious, gorgeous, sinister and completely evil. From this performance you can see the wonders and talent this young girl possessed. It’s kind of like when you watch 1956’s “Giant” and see where James Dean was going.

Aaliyah and Townsend are the star attractions of this film but it’s sad that the story and plot don’t live up to them. The plot and story seem to flash along at incredible speeds and in some circumstances leave the audience scratching their heads.

The film is very gothic and tends to plunge headlong into a Marilyn Manson kind of video. The giant hard-edge rock anthems and edgy music video graphic interludes make “Queen of the Damned” hard to watch at times. This aspect will definitely not embrace every Anne Rice fan.

This film could have been better if it didn’t embrace the gothic-rock angle so much and developed Lestat and especially Jesse more.

“Queen” is your typical vampire movie with two great performances. The final thing one can only say about this film is, “Long Live Aaliyah”.

(3.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

Written: February 27, 2002

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