Directed by: Michael Rymer
Written by:Scott Abbott, Michael Petroni
Starring: Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau, Aaliyah, Vincent Perez, Lena Olin
Released: April 4, 2002
Grade: B

Viewers will be disappointed with Queen Of The Damned for two reasons.  Firstly, the film cannot compare to its predecessor.  This film is adapted from The Vampire Chronicles written by Anne Rice.  The first film in the series, Interview With A Vampire, was both a commercial and cult hit thanks to the drawcard actors (Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise), a top-line director (Neil Jordan) and a screenplay from Anne Rice herself.  Compare the same elements of Queen Of The Damned.  It’s lead actor is the unknown Stuart Townsend (Shooting Fish), director Michael Rymer has never made a commercial film and neither screenwriter has much experience at film adaptation.  Thus, there’s a noticeable quality difference between the two films.

Secondly, the film will receive criticism from die-hard Rice fans who have seen the book murdered to fit into a 100 minute running time.  Unlike Lord Of The Rings, people aren’t prepared to sit though a three hour vampire epic, and so events are changed, characters are cut and the essence that made the novel so appealing has been lost.

Both “disappointments” were unavoidable.  The novel had to be cut and the studio could not lure back the creators of the original.  Queen Of The Damned begins slowly - the vampire Lestat (Townsend) rises from the dead and becomes a massive rock star.  He is not afraid to tell his legion fans he is a vampire but other vampires are upset that he as failed to uphold their morals and keep his “blood sucking” trait a secret.  Lestat is deliberately upsetting the vampire world to lure some old “friends” out of hiding.

The film has received more publicity than it deserves thanks to the death of one of its stars, Aaliyah, who died in a plane crash in August last year.  Aaliyah’s role is quite small in the film and without insulting her memory, a rather disappointing end to a limited film career.  Following her death, her brother was called upon to help overdub her voice is several scenes.

Here’s a curious note for film buffs - Queen Of The Damned was made in Australia.  You’ll guess this straight away with the unusual casting choice of Tiriel Mora as Lestat’s music agent.  Mora is most famous for his role as Dennis Denuto in The Castle and here he uses a pathetic fake accent to disguise his nationality.  The huge concert scene that forms part of the film’s finale was filmed in Werribee and over 2,000 “goths” turned up to appear as extras.

On a plus side, the film has some good visual effects and some great sound bytes.  The story isn’t difficult to follow but it is rather simple and lacking the intricate depth offered by Interview With A Vampire.  Author Anne Rice offered to pen the screenplay for free but was turned down.  I guess you could say with an idiotic decision like that, this film was “damned” from the very start.