Sunday, September 14, 2003


A Film Review of "Queen of the Damned"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

I used to work in a video store and one of my favorite times were those when lazy kids would come in to rent The Scarlet Letter, Lord of the Flies or The Crucible for book reports. Used to be these same kids would go to the bookstore and buy the Cliff’s Notes, now they rent the movie. Helpful clerk that I am, I would dutifully ask, "Which version?" to which they would always answer ‘the one closest to the book.’ I would happily recommend the Demi Moore version of The Scarlet Letter saying I thought it was pretty close but the car chase was a bit over the top. They always stared blindly and paid for the rental. If they were especially rude I always added that I enjoyed the scene with the dinosaurs, "it was just like in the book."

Queen of the Damned is like that. Not like the book. Anne Rice falls into the same category as Stephen King in that her words hardly ever make the complete transfer to film. What on paper is a gothic romance that dances with evil turns into a flashy MTV rock opera on celluloid. Pity. "Interview With the Vampire" didn’t translate well either, not unscarred at least and let’s not even mention that Dan Ackroyd/Rosie O’Donnell mess from a few years back.

Queen of the Damned is good at what it does when it does it – what it doesn’t do is the source material. The names and situations have been changed to protect the innocent. It reminds me of the "Smallville" TV series on the WB – It’s a cross between "Dawson’s Creek" and "X-Files" but the weird coincidence some of the characters have the same names as folks from the old Superboy comics. Whodathunkit?

Aliyah is perfect here, frozen in time and joining the ranks of James Dean and Brandon Lee. She is just eye candy, mind you, yet you can still feel the charisma and know she could be so much more. Stuart Townsend is adequate as Lestat. Don’t get me wrong, he’s hot, creepy and quite the actor but the part is beyond him to portray. Lestat is one of the most evil beings in contemporary literature and Townsend is a poor choice, as was Cruise before him in Interview.

Fair warning to those who enjoy the soundtrack, wait for the VHS or DVD to come out, you won’t find Jonathan Davis of Korn (the singing voice of Lestat) on the soundtrack. Contractual difficulties disallow Davis from appearing on the Warner Brothers label. He does however handpick his replacements for the soundtrack but it’s not the same.

Okay, then, in this order: read the book, see the movie, hear the soundtrack. And never trust video store clerks.

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