Aaliyah and Townsend fail to live up to the epic vampire standard in Anne Rice’s ‘Queen of the Damned’

By on March 21, 2002

Aaliyah and “Queen of the Damned” reigned at the box office during its opening week despite harsh critic reviews. High box office numbers are credited to the faithful fans of Aaliyah, the 22-year-old R&B singer who perished tragically in a plane crash in August of last year. Patrons came out to support the singer’s final on-screen role.
Despite high box office showings and potential, “Queen of the Damned,” the sequel to “Interview With A Vampire,” is a gory disaster. The movie suggests multiple plots yet fails to explore any of them deeper, leaving the audience feeling unsatisfied yet curious as to how the story would come together at the end.
The pair of films are based on novels by goth-horror author Anne Rice while the newer is directed by urban film director Michael Rymer (“In Too Deep”), and “Interview” by Neil Jordan (“Michael Collins”).
“Queen of the Damned” opens with a narration from main character Lestat (Stuart Townsend), formerly Tom Cruise’s role. After sleeping for many years out of loneliness Lestat awakes to discover a change in culture around him. He realizes his appearance no longer stands out among society and therefore does not want to live in the shadows anymore.
He emerges as a goth-rock star and assumes the identity of Lestat “The Vampire,” under which he has the power to influence thousands of misguided followers. Through lyrics he exposes the secrets of all vampires, thus angering them. He uses media as his outlet to challenge other vampires hiding in darkness to come out.
Lestat disregards the rules of his maker Marius (Vincent Perez) in a shallow attempt to rid his eternal loneliness. Lestat confesses he would “rather be dead than alone.”
Aaliyah portrays the 6,000-year-old vampire queen Akasha, who awakes by Lestat’s music. She destroys the King and pursues Lestat as his replacement. It is his drive for blood that draws the two together.
Akasha is known for her past destruction and attempt to bring hell on earth. Paired with Lestat, an ego-driven bloodsucker, they can accomplish complete devastation and make a perfect vampire couple.
The film lures the audience into a frenzy with dizzying special effects and short flashy editing cuts. Unfortunately the story lacks so much that the effects can only hold your attention for so long.
The movie is also extremely loud due to its hard rock soundtrack. It features five songs from Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis, who makes his own cameo appearance and also sings as Lestat onstage. Other typical performers for the movie include: Marilyn Manson, Orgy, Deftones, Disturbed and Static X.
Fans of Aaliyah may leave this film very disappointed since her role was not as great as advertised. There is something quite haunting about portraying a dead queen resurrected to destroy mortal and immortal life on earth.
There is an eerie scene at the film’s end as the group of vampires attacks Akasha in a flock until she disintegrates into a pile of ash. Regardless of her small role in the film, it is sad to realize what potential she could have had as an actress if it was not for her untimely death.


About Jackie Vettorino Staff Writer