Queen of the Damned (2002)
Directed by Michael Rymer

Starring Aaliyah Stuart Townsend

Given the awesome success of "Interview with the Vampire," and the well-known fact that readers of Anne Rice would see anything based on one of her novels as long as it's also approved by the author, it's a wonder that Warner Bros. decided to make the sequel to "Interview" without Rice's involvement. She was basically told by WB that the company had its "own vision" for the sequel, one that wouldn't involve her.


The film that resulted was a bore, with flat characters and a cheesy goth style that clearly tried to make the movie feel "edgy." In a year that saw "Blade 2" hit screens, however, "Queen of the Damned" really came across as a vampire also-ran. It's a weak film. The only thing that saved it from total obscurity was the fact that pop singer Aaliyah was in the cast (in the title role), and she died in a plane crash only months before the film was released.


Townsend takes over the Lestat role left by Tom Cruise. After a century-long sleep, the Vampire Lestat awakes in the present-day world, hooks up with a fledgling goth-rock band and becomes a rock 'n roll star, complete with his own Rolling Stone cover and a steady supply of groupies/victims. But his lyrics have angered the world's vampire population, which plans to strike at him during his next big concert in Death Valley, Calif.


Meanwhile, the mother of all vampires the "Queen of the Damned" (played by slinky Aaliyah) has herself awoken from a long sleep. She's seen Lestat's videos, heard his music and wants him to be her new king ruling over the world. During Lestat's big rock show, she saves him from a massive vampire attack and sweeps him away. But not all her followers want to go "public" as vampires the way she wants to.


Again, given the vampire war storylines already being done in the "Blade" films, "Queen" seemed truly tired. It's impossible not to compare its vampire battle sequences to the ones in "Blade" and, in comparison, the "Queen" fights seem tired, like a made-for-TV action scene. There's nothing scary in the movie. None of Neil Jordan's atmosphere from "Interview" is present either. The plotline, which is based both upon Rice's "The Vampire Lestat" and "Queen of the Damned" novels, isn't enticing. That's not Rice's fault. They were just cramming way too much story into a slick little vampire movie it seems.


It's also pretty bloodless and sexless. In short, there's precious little to recommend here. Amazing but true this flick is actually inferior to the "Subspecies" direct-to-video vampire films cranked out by Full Moon Productions and, unlike those films, "Queen" actually had a big budget to work with. It's actually even than another weak vampire film that came out in 2001: "The Forsaken." At least that had gore and breasts.


Pass.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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