It is hard to believe that Australian Michael Rymer, who wrote and directed the brilliant and quirky Angel Baby, his debut feature, followed it up with this muddled piece of high camp TV fare. What is even worse is that he asked Warner Brothers in 1998 if he could do the second instalment of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.
Fans of Anne Rice will remember Tom Cruise in Interview With The Vampire. Well, apparently Tom didn’t want to reprise the role (he was a pretty bad vampire anyway) and Stuart Townsend (About Adam) had been dropped from the role of Aragorn/Strider in Lord Of The Rings and was available. What’s more, Anne Rice offered to write the screenplay, as she had for the first part of the Chronicles. But Rymer refused even though Rice offered her services for free. Maybe this is why Queen Of The Damned was damned from the start, apart from the fact that its female star, Aaliyah, was killed in a plane crash before the film was wrapped and her brother had to do her voiceovers.
Queen Of The Damned is all art direction and no narrative. It certainly isn’t creepy as vampires now set a fashion style of hip hop Goth cool. At one stage I thought the film was trying to imitate the campy Vincent Price films of the 60s, but alas no, the film is really about special effects. Even though credible actors such as Vincent Perez (Queen Margot) and Lena Olin (Chocolat) were cast, their performances are uneven and everybody is trying to sound like Bela Lugosi. Some of the scenes between Townsend and Perez are homoerotic in a campy sort of way but are lost in the boring mishmash of the whole thing.
Most of the film was shot in Australia, Werribee standing in for Death Valley. This gave local heavy metal fans and Goths the chance to live out their dreams of appearing in a vampire movie. The best thing about Queen Of The Damned is the teeth; clearly they consumed the budget because the film has the worst fake blood I have seen in years. This is a film for fans of KoRN.