Main cast: Stuart Townsend (Lestat du Lioncourt), Marguerite Moreau (Jesse Reeves), Aaliyah (Queen Akasha), Vincent Perez (Marius), Paul McGann (David Talbot), Lena Olin (Maharet), Christian Manon (Mael), Claudia Black (Pandora), Bruce Spence (Khayman), and Matthew Newton (Armand)
Director: Michael Rymer
I won’t even try to compare this movie to Anne Rice’s book of the same name. That book is very difficult to be adapted into a movie, if you ask me, because of the author’s lengthy, tortuous prose. But screenplay writer Scott Abbott decides to just cut away the poetry of the book and renders the whole story into merely Scantily Clad Babe Terminator Vampiress Queen vs The Rocky Horror Show Reject Groupies.
It’s a rather ghastly thing. In fact, Queen of the Damned is just too ghastly to be campy fun. That’s a damn shame because Stuart Townsend makes a far better Lestat than Tom Cruise ever could.
Forget about the intricate mythology of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. This movie has just one simple premise: Lestat awakens Queen Akasha, Momma of All Vampires, snogs her and helps her destroy Goth/Vampire dudes and dudettes who look as if they come right out of The Matrix, and then turns against her, the end. Along the way, we have kung fu, blurry flying yee-haw style, posing of vampires who try to look cool despite being surrounded by cheap-looking, garish props that look as if they come out of the bargain bin of Tacky Tacks, and basically lots of hot air, fancy flashes, and camp going overdrive.
Stuart Townsend does play the androgynous Lestat with devastating aplomb. His accent, his actions, ticks and nuances and all, are perfect compared to the self-conscious Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire.
Aaliyah, however, lacks the stature or even the seductiveness to carry off the role of Queen Akasha. Here, Akasha just walks around baring those oversized fangs of her like a drooling, senile bullmastiff. Her sole repertoire of aggressiveness is to wiggle her belly and to flick her wrists as she speaks in this indecipherable accent, “Nouw you daiieee!” Akasha, supposedly the true prime evil, just looks small, lost, and sad here.
The other cast, vampires Anne Rice fans will recognize, are wasted. Marius, Pandora, Maharet, well, what are they doing here? They just stand here, mumble cryptic statements meant to be passed off as cool, and look lost. But their clothes look cool though.
Queen of the Damned doesn’t care about drawing parallels between vampirism and the lost souls or the depraved of today’s society. It just wants to show the blood, gore, fangs, Stuart Townsend’s pubic arches, Aaliyah’s atrocious accent, and lots of cool, rather pretentious poses and clothes, Generation Cool style. Too bad the end result is a slick, stylish, but soulless movie that should have gone straight to video if Anne Rice’s name isn’t tagged on the credits.