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Introduction
I went to my local video store and figured I'd just rent out two of the most attrocious movies this century (apparently) and have a good "crap-night" in for once - the other movie I saw was Rollerball [2001], review online.

Essentially Queen Of The Damned is no Interview With The Vampire, but it's not quite the abysmal failure that the box-office returns claim that it is.  Some of the reasons for the poor theatrical performance might have been that there was just way too much attention given to the musical soundtrack (even for the gothic populous among us) rather than giving us a more cohesive storyline to care about the characters with.  In addition, the method of lengthy exposition is sometimes shown in the form of the fake media and adoring public giving their total and undivided attention to Lestat and his band as though they were the biggest thing since sliced bread, so this ends up looking quite childish plot-wise.  Having said that, the actor Stuart Townsend who plays Lestat (portrayed by Tom Cruise in Interview With The Vampire) is truly a spooky presence onscreen, but his simplistic narration offscreen (compared to his more elaborate dialogue in the deleted scenes) downplays his effective visual performance.  And although Aaliyah does an admirable job of playing the Queen of all Vampire Bitches, she unfortunately cannot escape her own real-life sweet-natured personality.  Oddly enough, the Damned Queen Akashah seems to play second fiddle to Lestat, at least in terms of time onscreen and story development.

Being a vampire sure helps to keep your underling band in line.
I must say that when you go into a movie with lowered expectations you can end up enjoying it a lot more than if you hoped for an equal sequel ... and it was especially beneficial to have viewed all the extras on this DVD which gives a greater insight to the motivations and morals of the various vampires and the humans who interact with them (food or not).  The main difference from this sequel to the original Interview With The Vampire is that there is much more style than substance here - some of the emotions expressed are played through song but the filmmakers also throw in a bit of informative dialogue for good measure, also the endless moody settings are there just to keep us constantly centred in the dark world that the vampires exist in.  Generally speaking, this film doesn't really know where it wants to go let alone end up, but I just watch movies to be entertained, nothing more - I know the die-hard fans wouldn't have wanted an unintentionally camped-up film-rendition of Ms Rice's seriously-written blood-sucker books, but surely they must have expected that it might have ended up like this.

To the filmmaker's credit, their technical achievements are astounding both visually and aurally, but somehow the story just loses itself in the third and final act after a great initial setup of mood and plot ... it tried too hard to be hip.  Stylistically though, this movie (and its music) probably comes closest towards The Crow, but it is kind of a slap in the face to those who expected a superb sequel - much like Blues Brothers 2000 really.  The other interesting note is that most of this movie was filmed in and around Melbourne Australia, home of the Adelaide Grand Prix (sorry, that's just a local joke there, kids).

From Interview with the Vampire to Media Conference with Lestat ... and aren't vampires supposed to be invisible to all but the naked eye?
Movie
Lestat (Stuart Townsend) has inevitably grown weary of his eternal and lonely life in a mortal world, so he decides on a self-imposed vampirical hibernation until something awakens him to join the rest of humanity again (and that is gothic-rock music which of course is enough to wake up the dead - pun intended).  He finds a kind of solace to his solitary existence by recruiting a reluctant rock band and shamelessly revealing to the world that he is indeed a vampire (which only makes him seem just like a gimmick to everyone, but this helps him to hide behind this supposed facade to all but those who know him well).  To this end, he dares his fellow vampires to meet with him at a huge outdoor rock-concert held in Death Valley, for some reason.  Along the way, a human girl Jesse (Marguerite Moreau), a paranormal investigator, feels she ultimately belongs in the vampire world and becomes Lestat's opposite equal, to which he refuses her desire to become a vampire.  However, Lestat in his earlier past brought back to life the mother of all vampires Akasha (Alliyah) who's annhialitive destructive nature will see the end of all that is left on earth - and this sets in motion the ultimate showdown for all who oppose her.

Video
Although distributed by Roadshow, this PAL video is actually mastered by Warner Bros (so why in Transylvania can't they sell all their own discs in this format, too?)

Since 95% of of this movie is filmed in everything that is dark and brooding, the imaging would have to be of the utmost quality to help keep our eyes from straining through all the blackness (which I'm sure vampires would have absolutely no problem with anyway).  This video sports many different types of scenes housed in darkness, with both blacks and shadows being very deep and detailed whilst giving off a remarkable contrast throughout.  The colours suitably lack vibrancy with all the basic hues and tones giving off a continually cold dread.  The image is razor-sharp and does not exhibit any immediately visible grain.  And if you have vampiric vision you might just pick up on the rare grill-flicker or blockiness in the slight colour-gradients.

"I vaunt to suuck your blooood!"
Audio
Ever wanted to go to a grunge concert and wave your hands around in relative time with the music? (the popularity of which probably died off after Pink Floyd's day).  Well, this is probably the next best thing to it (although in concerts these days you'd expect to be crushed by fans who just want to mosh-pit themselves into oblivion, rather than them centering their attention to the band infront of them as in the movie here, ala Pink Floyd again :).

There is admittedly an imaginitive variety of unusual activity for all five main speakers in this mix, with the subwoofer providing what is necessarily thunderous grunt in the many musical numbers as well as atmospheric rumble in the dramatic sequences.  Dialogue is clearly heard with Lestat giving even his ADR'd voice a welcome creepiness that would have otherwise made this movie total schlock.  Both the rock and orchestral compositions feed through to the rear-speakers complimentarily rather than obtrusively, thankfully.  And since this film is more about flashiness than fleshed-out story-telling, there are no wasted opportunities to hear the vampires scoot about and brushing up against you when you least expect it ... euhhghugh!

Spinal Tap ... move on over.
Extras
This collection of extras is actually a great complement to the movie itself and it helps immensely in not only exploring the vampire world that Anne Rice has created but also the hopes of the filmmakers to portray this environment for the bigscreen.  Also, some of these extras (mainly the musical ones) exhibit a sort of aural-overload which ultimately means unnecessary peaking and clipping that should have easily been avoided.

The Audio Commentary involving director, producer and musical co-creator is somewhat analytical in the decisions that were made to make Anne Rice's work their own on film, but it is still an interesting yarn.  There are three featurettes: Creating The Vampires (Flying, Effects Makeup, Digital Effects) [10 mins], Aaliyah Remembered [3 mins] and Interviews (Making The Soundtrack, Concert, Score) [11 mins] - the last one is intriguing because of the many hard-rock musicians that were asked to compose an orchestral score, unusual methodology to say the least.  The Music Videos contain three movie-related ones with Stuart Townsend in Lestat garb miming to the real singers' voice (the last one "Forsaken" is by far my favourite) and then there's another one by Static X themselves performing onscreen.

The Deleted Scenes [30 mins] are well presented with text information regarding their excise from the movie and are well worth seeing for what could have been, most of these are of reasonable quality from what seems to be virtually completed productions of them.  The Club Reels [8 mins] are actually two extended versions of Lestat's concert performances of his songs on-stage.  The Gag Reel [3 mins] is a wonderful look at the actors fouling up and having fun infront of camera, all set to a jazzy musical number - there should always be one of these for every DVD release I think.  The Stills Gallery [8 mins] is a chapter-selectable running video of location photographs, storyboards and artwork.  There is also a brief but informative Synopsis of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles that is only of interest to those who are unfamiliar with her works.  And as for the so-called Cast & Crew Biographies it's the usual blood-drained one-page Warner Bros special.  The dire Theatrical Trailer is also included.

"Mmm, finger-lickin' good!"
Summary
The thing that amused me most about this film was recognising the many familiar faces that have graced Australian television over the years - one of them is Marg Downey a female comedian in a serious cameo role here (fans know her best as the spoofed foreign movie-presenter on SBS), as well as that bug-eyed bloke Bruce Spence as the hooded albino-freak in which he also appeared in Mad Max 2 & 3.  Also, I am not an aficiando of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles in the least, so forgive me if my perception of the film differs somewhat to your own knowledge on the books.  Ultimately, even without the help of the quite lame artwork on the DVD cover, this movie will no doubt end up on the far-end video shelves behind the classic duo of Tommy Boy and Black Sheep - sorry, but this labour of love for Anne Rice's novel will quickly be forgotten by both of its intended target audiences.

I suppose this movie is an admirable way of wasting 90 minutes of your life and being able to come out of it thinking that you've been entertained (sort of), if you could at least just turn the brain off and not concentrate on any remnant of a plot.  The dialogue is cool, the action is fun and you gotta love all that black and white garb that those gothics adorn on their bodies.  But when it comes down to it, will this be the disc that sits in your guilty-pleasure library for that inevitable dose of mindless blood-sucking action (like Blade 2, review online), or are you just too intelligent that you'd want to stay awake trying to analyse the point it's trying to make (whatever that is!).


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