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Queen of the Damn!



Queen of the Damned (R)
Warner Bros.

Don't kid yourself when you flush $7 on Queen of the Damned. You're there for one reason: to see the undead Aaliyah in full diva divinity slithering across the screen in what can hardly be described as acting. To say that Aaliyah should "act" presumes a kind of condescension ill-suited to the unearthly presence who was obviously snatched away by the gods when they got a load of her looking like Isis in that heavily bedazzled tiara and scanty little sports bra from the Xena set. Her reverb-enhanced, affected Egyptian accent only adds to her ether.

The movie itself was duly shruggable. Based on a mish-mash bricolage of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, the movie tells the story of the campily "bored-with-eternity" Vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend) who sloughs his century-long slumber to join a kind of Nine Inch Nails rock knockoff.

And as all of you Buffy-heads probably know, joining a rock band is strictly against the vampire's shadowy code. So talented and egomaniacal is Lestat that his music and irreverence begin to awaken the bloodthirsty "Mother of all Vampires," the Queen of the Damned, Akasha (Aaliyah).

All of this has something vague to do with Jesse (Marguerite Moreau), a vampire wanna-be, who's just too cute and too human for Lestat. As Jesse stalks Lestat around the globe, we learn all about Lestat's sordid past and deep inner yearning for companionship and yadda yadda until Akasha finally appears from beneath the stage like a really high-class hooker from a birthday cake at the Burning Man-esque rock concert in Death Valley. After a lot of helicopter sound effects during the vampire battle, Akasha makes Lestat her man and whisks them off for a romantic bloodbath on a remote tropical island (the corpses littering the pool and beach surely considered themselves lucky!).

The whole thing culminates in a showdown with the good ol' vamps, one of whom is played by the always welcome, sweater-toothed cameo actor Bruce Spence. "Joyeen me ohr diyee," Akasha hisses before the too-close-to-home ending.

There is, of course, the moral/metaphorical side of the whole vampire thing that you'll surely want to ponder for upwards of five seconds: "If you're gonna be undead, then you better check your head," or something.

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