Michael Rymer’s Queen of the Damned (2002, R) is a movie that needs to be seen in a theatre to be fully appreciated. A loose film adaptation of a novel by Anne Rice, Queen of the Damned will doubtlessly be reviled by Anne Rice fans for daring to veer from the holy text of the matriarch (the same sort of people who decried the treatment of Farmer Maggot in Lord of the Rings). Film aficionados will be more concerned with the huge, gaping plot holes. But let’s be frank: it’s a vampire movie, of course there are plot holes (Blade, anyone?). We don’t go to a vampire movie for intricate plots or a complex emotional landscape, we go to a vampire movie for cool costumes, sexy protagonists, and some spooky cinematography. Queen of the Damned delivers these in spades.
The late R&B singer Aaliyah plays the title role of Akasha, who is awakened by a disturbingly Crow-like Lestat (played by Stuart Townsend) and proceeds to run amok. Arrayed against her are a number of fashion-plate vampires who happen to like the status quo. For the next couple of hours, they pose and stare with a pleasantly goth-pop soundtrack. Aaliyah is simply delicious as Akasha, and Stuart Townsend does as good a job as the infamous Lestat as any mortal man is likely to. Classic cinema? No: it’s a vampire movie, with all of the silliness and melodrama that entails. But Queen of the Damned is a fun “date movie” (if your date isn’t a film student or an obsessed Anne Rice fan), and the costumes and cinematography are good enough to warrant repeat viewings.
Pay to see Queen of the Damned in the theatre. When it comes to video, see it again with Blade and really treat yourself.