Welcome to A-Z Movie Reviews. Every Sunday, for the next several months, I will be posting a review of a film in my home movie collection. How it works is, I will be reviewing movies in alphabetical order until I get to the letter Z (Yes, I do have a film that ends in Z). Now I realize there are many ways to alphabetize a film collection, but this is mine so don’t judge me. This is simply for fun.
Since I have been doing A-Z Movie Reviews, I have really been enjoying revisiting the movies I haven’t watched in awhile. Every now and then, I get to a film on my list that is one of my favorites and for this installment I’m talking about one of them which is Queen of the Damned.
What it’s about:
In this loose sequel to Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), the vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend) becomes a rock star whose music wakes up the equally beautiful and monstrous queen of all vampires, Akasha (Aaliyah).
Like the blurb says, Queen of the Damned is a very loose adaptation of Anne Rice’s book. There were a lot of things changed in this film that didn’t exactly match the book but I can overlook a few of them because this is still a film I genuinely love. Like my last installment of A-Z Movie Reviews, I’m going to break down the things I love about this film.
Growing up, Aaliyah was always one of my favorite singers. I was so excited when she started acting and I was ready to support her in that journey as well. When I found out she was paying the vampire queen Akasha in Queen of the Damned, I was thrilled. She was amazing in Romeo Must Die so I knew she would be able to pull this off. This was only her second film role and she nailed it.
Akasha has a sleek elegance and her movements are so seamless. Because she is such an ancient vampire, she has a certain kind of grace that is different from the other vampires. Because of Aaliyah’s dance background, she was able to do this and she looked amazing. Her entrance into the film at the Admiral’s Arms is one of my favorite moments.
Before Queen of the Damned, I had never heard of Stuart Townsend but I remember the moment I saw him I was totally set on him as Lestat. I was eighteen years old and I thought he was extremely hot. I’m sure some people were not that pleased with the casting but I was. The thing is, people were probably looking for the Tom Cruise factor with him which is a tall order. Interview With the Vampire and Queen of the Damned are two very different films so of course we could not expect the casting to be the same.
Stuart Townsend checked off all the right boxes for me; Sexy, handsome, sultry, smooth, and all things that make a vampire a vampire. He was Lestat for me, at least the more modernized one. What I loved even more was that he had that Rockstar swagger down to a T. Watching him onstage during the concert sequence is one of my absolute favorite moments in the entire film.
Talking about the concert sequence brings me to the music of Queen of the Damned. The Queen of the Damned soundtrack is one of my favorites which some people would probably be surprised to know about me because it’s such a heavy metal album.
The songs for Lestat’s band were written and performed by Jonathan Davis of the nu metal band Korn, and Richard Gibbs. Something that I found to be interesting about the album was, although Jonathan Davis wrote the songs, because of his contractual agreement with Sony, his vocals could not appear on the album.
Since this was the case, he had various artist record the songs; Wayne Static, of Static-X, David Draiman of Disturbed, Jay Gordon of Orgy, and my personal favorite, the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. One of the coolest things about the music in Queen of the Damned is that the songs Lestat is supposed to be singing, do actually sound similar even though they were recorded by different artists.
For the concert sequence, Lestat performs two songs; ‘Slept So Long’ (Jay Gordon), and ‘Not Meant for Me’ (Wayne Static). Both of these songs have a completely different vibe vocally but they sound like they could have been done by the same artist.
One of my favorite things about this movie is the chemistry between Aaliyah and Stuart Townsend. Both of them are amazing actors and they were so great at playing vampires but they worked even better together. I loved watching them onscreen together so I was and still am pretty sad that they didn’t actually have more. Although Aaliyah appears briefly early in the film in a flash when Lestat sees Akasha’s memories as he drinks her blood, it’s not the same.
When the two of them are finally onscreen together, I eat up every minute of it because they are both so magnetic. Like I said, they don’t really have nearly as many scenes as I would have liked or anticipated. The movie is called Queen of the Damned so I needed much more Queen than we got. I felt like Akasha had more time with Lestat in the book than she did in the film. I sometimes wonder if they would have gone back and added some more scenes with the two of them if Aaliyah had not died before the film was finalized.
I really enjoyed the special effects and makeup in Queen of the Damned because the vampires movements had a sort of ethereal feel to them with a martial arts type feel. I particularly loved Lestat and Marius fighting onstage with the vampires at the concert.
One of the other things that I thought was pretty cool would definitely have to be Aaliyah’s transformation as Akasha begins to die after all of the vampires have drained her of her blood. It’s a sad moment because we know Aaliyah is no longer here but it was beautifully done. To know that she spent hours in makeup to do that look is unreal. I know that final scene took a lot of time and placed some major strain on her body because she was not in the most comfortable position.
- I still love the opening of Queen of the Damned.
- The details of the Akasha and Enkil statues.
- Lestat was going digital to do press conferences before ZOOM was a thing.
- Seeing Jesse’s (Marguerite Moreau) tiny TV and MTV when it still stood for Music Television brought back a lot of memories.
- I really love the music in Queen of the Damned.
- The part when Lestat sucks on Jesse’s thumb… yup, get’s me EVERY time. That shit is hot.
- Aaliyah’s brother Rashad re-recorded some of her vocals that needed to be redone in post-production. It worked really well because Akasha killed her King Enkil and absorbed his power when she arose to go find Lestat. Hearing the male voice underneath made sense to me.
- Watching Lestat show Jesse what it’s really like being a vampire, I couldn’t help thinking it was like “Scared Straight: Vampire edition”.
- Stuart Townsend looked so hot in Queen of the Damned but he was REALLY hot during the concert sequence.
- Okay, if the vampires were pissed that Lestat was revealing vampire secrets, was it really a good idea for them to attack him at a live concert in front of several hundred humans watching?
- I am still so annoyed that they changed Queen of the Damned by letting Jesse live and ride off into the night with Lestat. In the book, she is literally killed at the concert and we never see her again. Lestat spends way more time with Akasha after that and that’s what I wanted in the movie.
- The movie is called Queen of the Damned but Aaliyah doesn’t show up till well after the 30 minute mark…
- The vamps did my girl Akasha dirty.
- Lestat did Akasha dirty too.