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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Queen of the Damned

Euro trash and goth galore

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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February 24, 2002 -- In the credits of "The Queen of the Damned" are five actors who play "Euro Trash Vampires." That pretty well sums up the movie, Euro Trash, goth, obnoxious heavy metal music, a chaotic plot and lots of blood. It is all style and no substance. This film is not in the same ballpark with "Interview With the Vampire," the previous adaptation of an Anne Rice vampire chronicle novel.

I read one Anne Rice novel, "Interview With the Vampire," and that was enough for me, but at least it seemed like it was an attempt to deal intelligently with the vampire legend in an atheistic sort of way. There was evidence of a lot of thought having gone into it. The film based on that book was classy, featuring some fine performances by Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and others. "Queen of the Damned" is more of a traditional kind of vampire exploitation film, something like the old Hammer films starring guys like Christopher Lee (who plays Sauron in "Lord of the Rings"). The more traditional vampire exploitation film features plenty of blood and plenty of cleavage. The overt sexual theme in the vampire legend has always been there, and it certainly not avoided in this film.

In "Queen of the Damned" the sexual tension is played out between the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (played by Stuart Townsend) and Akisha (played by the late Aaliyah of "Romeo Must Die") and the mortal Jesse Reeves (Marguerite Moreau). Akisha is the mother of all vampires, the queen of the damned, as it were. Reeves is a Talamascan researcher with a mysterious background who becomes fascinated by Lestat. After a lengthy sleep of a hundred or so years, Lestat is aroused by the sound of goth heavy metal music. He arises and becomes a rock star, rightly assuming his announcement that he is a vampire will not even cause a ripple in the world of goth music. The music he makes in turn arouses Akisha from her centuries-long slumber. Lestat announces a big concert in Death Valley, knowing many vampires will be there to kill him since he has revealed their secret to the world. Bring them on, he says defiantly.

The theory behind Anne Rice's "Interview With the Vampire" is that vampires are almost all-powerful creatures, cursed by long lives, loneliness and boredom. With great power comes great responsibility. The book is filled with darkness and angst. In "Queen of the Damned" Lestat does not seem like the tortured soul he was in the first film. He seems to be having fun with his new rock star persona. The cursed part of his existence seems smaller, yet the oppressive dark tone of the movie is very similar to the original. The tone, however, is only skin deep. We learn little about these characters. Their motivation seems to exist only for the convenience of the plot. The film itself seems to be mainly an exercise in style with almost minimal narrative coherence.

The only actor of note in the entire film is Lena Olin ("Chocolat") who plays Maharet. Why she bothered doing this film is a mystery to me. Vincent Perez of "I Dreamed of Africa") is mildly interesting as Marius, the ancient vampire who made Lestat. Stuart Townsend looks good as Lestat, but doesn't seem to bring much depth to the role. Ditto for Aaliyah. Too bad this was her last film. All the characters in the movie are very thin. The visual style of the film is interesting, with nice production design, competent cinematography and editing. It looks good, but it is essentially empty. This film rates a D.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2002 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)