Queen of the Damned
I haven’t read all of the Vampire Chronicles – in fact, nowhere near. But I’m working on it. I’m definitely a fan of the books and think Anne Rice invents wonderful characters and that films need to work hard to do justice to the books. And this, the second in the series of books and films, certainly impressed me.
Despite being called The Queen of the Damned, this film is the story of legendary vampire Lestat, played by Stuart Townsend. In the beginning of the film, Lestat has been in a decades-long slumber due to his dissatisfaction with the world. He detests his life as one of the Undead, resenting the fact he has to spend it alone, and hidden in the shadows. In his coffin, he has been listening to the world go on without him, until he hears music that rouses him. Rock music.
Lestat realises he can wreak havoc on the world by becoming a rock star and spreading his message to the masses. And that’s exactly what he does. He wins legions of admiring fans, whilst at the same time antagonising his fellow vampires who have been operating beneath the radar for many years. He could bring them all down with his actions, and they’re determined to do something about it.
However, Lestat’s music and lyrics have awakened something much more dangerous than Lestat and his enemies put together. 6,000 year old vampire Akasha – the queen of all vampires (played by the late Aaliyah, tragically killed in an airplane crash). When she walked the earth, she operated openly and had humans bowing and cowering beneath her. That’s if she didn’t slaughter them. Akasha is so powerful she can walk in sunlight, and she’s chosen Lestat to be her new King. Together they can create Hell on Earth.
Akasha leaves complete destruction in her wake as she seeks Lestat. The vampires who have chosen to co-exist with humans must defeat her – but how? She can make them burst into flames with a flick of her wrist, and in one particularly gruesome scene she rips the heart from a vampire’s chest and makes a meal of it. You’ll have to watch and see what happens.
This film truly amazed me and I’m surprised it kind of passed by without a murmur. Stuart Townsend plays an absolutely fantastic Lestat – in fact I think he completely overshadows Tom Cruise’s representation in An Interview with the Vampire. He really captures the essence of the sexy yet vulnerable vampire. And the beautiful Aaliyah is sexy and sinister, and terrifying as Akasha. The rest of the cast play weird and wonderful vampires, and fearless humans perfectly. The special effects are on the whole very good, but there were some fight scenes where I felt it made the vampires look somewhat comical, as opposed to all-powerful. 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 of the vamps.
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. Nevertheless, I think if you love vampire films, you should get yourself a copy of this and An Interview with the Vampire, as well as beginning your collection of the books. You won’t regret it.