Queen of the Damned (2002)

Rating: D

Dir: Michael Rymer
Star: Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau, Aaliyah, Vincent Perez

Well, it’s somewhat less gay than Interview With the Vampire. On the other hand, this feels spiritually like an ancestor to the Twilight franchise. Townsend’s Vampire Lestat might not actually sparkle, yet you sense he does, in his own mind. Or on his MySpace profile, since this is firmly locked into that era. It is about as dated as It’s Trad, Dad!, mostly thanks to a shitty nu-metal soundtrack. Hey, you hire the guy from Korn to write your score, you’ll get Korn Lite. It’s also overpacked, likely inevitably so. Even producer Jorge Saralegui read Queen of the Damned, and went, “Now I see why the movie hasn’t been made. It’s because there’s really no movie in that book.” The solution? Jam in another, The Vampire Lestat, on top! What could possibly go wrong?

This is how you end up with three stories, none of them adequately developed. There’s Lestat’s history, from being created by even older vampire Marcus (Perez), up until deciding to retire from the world. There’s his reawakening, deciding to become a rock star and break the seal of secrecy around vampires. Finally, there’s his music being so amazing, it awakens Queen Akasha (Aaliyah), who plans to take over the world and rule it, with Lestat as her consort. Little of this makes any sense. For instance, the other vampires’ plan to counter Lestat revealing their existence is… attack him en masse during a concert, in front of thousands of human witnesses. That’ll keep things secret.

It might be tolerable, if Townsend had the necessary charisma to play a centuries-old vampire. Instead, he seems utterly bored with the whole endeavour, and I was too. Admittedly, Aaliyah does have presence. Her first significant appearance, at a vampire club, definitely got my attention, albeit partly for her bio-organic headdress and top consisting of two aluminium muffin tins. However, she’s barely in this until the final third, and there’s no real performance here, just charisma. The movie looks fairly good: it’s a decent marker for what $35 million got you, twenty years ago, and is as shiny as Aaliyah’s muffin moulds. But it’s just about as empty. Any sense of forward energy is derailed with the lengthy, largely unimportant, flashback to Lestat’s history, and it never recovers thereafter.

This was the first in a trilogy of flops for Townsend, followed by Trapped and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Mind you, it just about killed the careers of everyone involved – except for Aaliyah, who took care of that another way. [What, too soon?] Speaking of death though, in December 2002, obsessed Scottish fan Allan Menzies murdered a friend who made a disparaging remark about the movie, then “drank his blood and ate a bit of his head,” claiming Akasha told him to do it. A year later, Menzies committed suicide in jail. Maybe he had a moment of clarity and realized, of all the movies to have inspired murder, Queen of the Damned might be the most feeble.