Underappreciated Movies: Queen Of The Damned

Notwithstanding abuse from critics and fans of the prior Tom Cruise film, Lucy has succumbed to this sequel's vampiric charms...

On its release, this movie completely passed me by. I’m not sure why – Interview With The Vampire was, and still is, undoubtedly a popular film. It could be because of the star-studded cast, though arguably, the stars of the films have all risen further since then.

Anyway, Queen of the Damned comfortably outvamps Interview with the Vampire. It’s based on two of Anne Rice’s books, The Vampire Lestat, and (unsurprisingly) Queen of the Damned, attempting to meld elements of both together, and beginning with the story of LeStat’s origins and early years.

The world-weary Lestat is truly unimpressed with his existence; because of what he is, he must shy away from the world, discouraged from forming attachments with others. Lonely, craving love and losing the will to exist, Lestat goes to sleep in his coffin for a period of time. A long period. Centuries pass him by, until he hears something going on in the world that arouses his curiosity. Rock music…

Lestat arrives on the scene and starts his own rock band, and announces to the world that he is a vampire. Unwilling to hide what he is any longer, he realises he can wreak havoc on the world by forcing other vampires out into the open. He wins legions of admiring rock fans, whilst at the same time antagonising the fellow vampires who have been operating beneath the radar all this time. Vampires and humans have been happily co-existing for many years, and they fear Lestat will bring vampire society down with his reckless actions; and they’re determined to do something about it.

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The plot then moves to Akasha – the Queen of all vampires. She has been awoken from a long slumber by Lestat’s music, and his message. Realising they’re kindred spirits, she rises and seeks out Lestat, leaving complete devastation in her wake. She is all-powerful; vampires burst into flames at the flick of her wrist, and the sight of her plunging her hand into a vamp’s chest, ripping out his heart and making a meal of it isn’t for the faint-hearted (pardon the pun).

Akasha intends to find Lestat, make him her King, and together they will rule Hell on Earth. But what will the opposing vampires do about it?

Queen Of The Damned truly amazed me and I’m surprised it passed by without a murmur. Stuart Townsend plays an absolutely fantastic Lestat, completely overshadowing Tom Cruise’s representation in Interview with the Vampire, and a dazzling representation of the creature created by Anne Rice – sexy, seductive, arrogant and yet vulnerable.

The beautiful Aaliyah (RIP) is sexy, sinister, and terrifying as Akasha. There were some qualms about why someone of Aaliyah’s descent was playing an ancient Egyptian vampire, but with a film like this you just suspend disbelief anyway. I thought she was wonderfully cast and if her life hadn’t been cut short, she’d have been up there with the world’s hottest movie stars.

This film really had me on the edge of my seat, the adrenalin pumping, and desperate to see what happened next (I’ve not read the books as yet). The special effects on the whole are very good, but there were some overly comical fight scenes that took a toll on the dignity of the supposedly all-powerful vampires. That’s just my opinion and I wouldn’t know the first thing about filming, but I did feel it detracted slightly from the carefully portrayed eroticism set up in previous scenes.

This is a fabulous film. If you haven’t read any of the books or watched any of the films, it may not have quite the same effect on you as you won’t be sure of some of the characters, but it does work as a standalone film. If you love vampire films, you should get yourself a copy of this and Interview with the Vampire. You won’t regret it.

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