The Queen of the Damned (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/12/2002

Two out of five stars
Running time: 101 mins

Adaptation of Anne Rice’s third novel that, frankly, isn’t very good – poor acting, awful music and –the kiss of death- a 15 certificate to boot. In fact, it’s only Aaliyah that makes it watchable. For vampire lovers and Goth Rockers only.

Even though Queen of the Damned springs from the same source as Neil Jordan’s under-rated adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview With A Vampire, it should not be thought of as a sequel to that film, despite sharing a main character in Lestat.

Instead, it’s a pretty much straight adaptation of her third novel and yet it manages to erase all traces of the eroticism, style and atmosphere that characterise both the novels and the first film.

Stuart Townsend plays the Vampire Lestat, (played by Tom Cruise in Interview – from Cruise to Stuart Townsend – was there really no-one else in between?), who is awakened from a century-long slumber by the sounds of a rock band practicing and immediately decides he wants to be a Goth Rocker. (It could have been worse – he could have woken up to the Spice Girls).

In no time at all, he’s living the life of an International Rock Star, eating groupies and generally pissing off vampires all over the world by revealing their secrets in his songs. (Sadly we never get to hear the presumably chart-topping ‘We hate garlic and crucifixes’).

Meanwhile, a sexy librarian (is there ever any other kind in the movies?), played by Marguerite Moreau, discovers that she may have a Vampire Aunt (Lena Olin) and sets out to find her, much to the consternation of her kindly mentor Paul McGann (whose presence in this is perhaps the film’s biggest shock – from Withnail & I to a bit-part in Queen of the Damned with practically nothing in between).

The film has already attracted its fair share of publicity, due to the tragic death of singer Aaliyah in a plane crash last year. In fact, Aaliyah is the film’s saving grace, though it takes an eternity for her to actually show up.

She plays Queen Akasha, the Queen Of All Vampires, who can make vampires burn up just by looking at them and has a way of wiggling across a room that is worth the price of admission alone. (Which is just as well, because nothing else is.)

As for the other actors, Townsend looks uncomfortable in the role and his attempts at ‘sexy’ Gothic posturing will probably only end up reminding you of Goths you know or knew at school. (Indeed, latter-day Goths may find themselves cringing in recognition). McGann also looks uncomfortable but for different reasons, presumably involving his mortgage. Only Vincent Perez emerges relatively unscathed, due to the fact that his tongue can clearly be seen nestling firmly in his cheek.

Just occasionally, the film provides an unintentionally hilarious moment or two that, together with Aaliyah, have managed to earn the film an extra star, such as the American Beauty ‘inspired’ bathtub scene or the scene where Lestat crawls up the walls (in tribute to Lionel Ritchie?) before killing his adoring groupies. He doesn’t even have sex with them first, though this may be the fault of the 15 certificate.

In fact, the 15 certificate must shoulder a lot of the blame for this nonsense – Interview With A Vampire was an 18 and much the better for it. There’s absolutely no point in doing a vampire movie if sex and blood-drenched violence are off-limits.

In short then, Queen of the Damned is just about watchable in a ‘so bad it’s almost good’ sort of way, but will only really be enjoyed by Goth Rockers and vampire-lovers.

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The Queen of the Damned (15)
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Content updated: 24/10/2017 03:19

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