Queen of the Damned 2002

queenof

Was anyone actually interested in a sequel to An Interview With A Vampire? I like that film but can’t remember stumbling out into the daylight thinking when is the next one coming? Well, eight years later out came Queen of the Damned, and like all bad sequels it had none of the original cast or creative talent involved. So, not so much Aliens, Empire Strikes Back or Godfather 2, as Son of the Mask, Dumb and Dumberer or Cassidy and Sundance: The Early Years.

Scripts are vital in creating a good film, everyone knows that. However if the story you are basing your movie on is absolute nonsense then the script, no matter how good, is doomed from the start. Fortunately the script here is also complete tosh, so no one has wasted any energy on polishing a turd. A film is often in trouble if it has a voice over, most film lecturers will tell you that (and there are many films to prove them wrong). However, if the film has more than one voice over you know its fucked. We only have two here, the Vampire Lestat and Marguerite Moreau as his reincarnated love or something… actually I don’t know. I’ve been watching the Dracula TV show and the romantic plots have merged into one a bit. The main story though is unique in vampire lore however because its about, god help us all, rock and roll. Okay, here goes…

The Vampire Lestat wakens from a couple of hundred years slumber (he was bored of the world so decided to sleep it out until it got more interesting, know that feeling). Upon awakening he meets a really lame alternative rock band and decides to become their leader, renaming the band The Vampire Lestat, of course. The egomaniac. Their former name wasn’t good enough apparently, something like The Smashing Pumpkins I think. Now Lestat announces to the world he is a real-life vampire and is going to hold the biggest concert ever in Death Valley, in the hope that lots of other vampires, furious that he has exposed them, will come along and… okay, I don’t know what the purpose of all this is. Meanwhile, the Queen of the Damned of the title, an original vampire from ancient times, played be Aaliyah, pops up looking for Lestat because she wants him for a mate/King so they can take over the world most likely. Plus there is some other plot involving rosey-cheeked Moreau whose family have been protected by vampires for reasons I couldn’t work out for love nor money despite rewatching the exposition scenes four times. I think that’s it plot-wise. There are flashbacks and a couple of other sub plots but really who cares? Not the filmmakers obviously.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of fun to be had here. Maybe not quite enough to fill the 101 minute running time, but at least half of it. Alot of this come from Stuart Townsend replacing Tom Cruise as Lestat. Looking like a cross between Jim Morrison and strangely Keira Knightley, Townsend constantly has a little smirk on his face as if he knows that he’s better than all this tomfoolery, but it kind of works for the character. Why he speaks in a Transylvanian accent, when I’m presuming by his name he’s French, is another matter. Also weirdly good, in a not necessarily good, but consistently crazy kind of way, is Aaliyah. She slinks about like a snake, never walking normally, constantly twisting her tiny torso, spouting gibberish lines in a unique mix of, again, Transylvanian and African, no mean feat. Despite her miniscule stature, Aaliyah seems so committed to the role that whenever she enters a room, slinking or floating, you could almost believe that this freakish creature with glowing eyes is indeed an elder goddess. Admittedly one trapped in a terrible film.

The rest of the vampires on the other hand are a bunch of wimps. They look overly-serious like they’ve spent too much time in front of the mirror practicing “Serious Vampire Face Version 1”, not that they can look in the mirror anyway. They’re also not helped by their attack moves, if we can call them that. They fly about with motion blur trails swishing out behind them that look like crap digital effects rather than something real. This is because they are crap digital effects. The same technique was used in the first Twilight movie (maybe the others, I never saw them) and looked just as stupid there.

Talking of stupid, why did Lestat want to hold his rock concert at Death Valley? It is one of the hottest places in the planet, with the least amount of shade. Sure, it was at night but you know how these parties go on and on. One minute your average vampire is snorting coke off someone’s breasts, secretly looking for a ripe vein, the next the sun is coming up and you’re toast. The gig itself is almost fun, though not the actual music which seems to be like a sub-Nine Inch Nails ‘cus that’s, like, dark innit? When the vampires attack Lestat the audience just think it is all part of the show and cheer the amazing special effects. Well I’m glad someone enjoyed them. Oops, I’m criticising effects again. Sorry, if I’m offending anyone I know who worked on it, please feel free to watch 24 Hour Party People and rip the shit out of me. For balance, when the vampires burn up, their charred corpses drift up into the air like newspaper coming off a bonfire, its almost beautiful.

Anyway, who thinks this combination of rock and horror is scary? Its not and never has been. Was Trick or Treat (1986) frightening? No. Was all that heavy metal in the background of the Freddy Kruger movies adding suspense to the atmosphere? No, it was making the whole thing jokey and daft. And this is no better. Its no wonder Tom Cruise didn’t want to come back for the sequel. Although he did do Rock of Ages, which is pretty much the same thing.

Look, I’m going on too much about this film, its a waste of my fingers. Okay so I do like the fact that all the vampires have hobbies, Lestat plays the violin, his mate enjoys painting landscapes and some other creature of the night has a lovely collection of old dolls. Not sure what the Queen of the Damned’s hobby was, unless it is impersonating snakes. Good job she does of it too.

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