“Queen of the Damned”: Still Not a Euphemism.

Nov 20th, 2005 | By | Category: Columns

As this is unofficially Anne Rice Appreciation Month here at Defenestration, I took it upon myself to examine in detail the rich cinematic world that has been borne out of Rice’s fertile imagination.

Then I put the Interview with a Vampire box down and rented Queen of the Damned instead.

Queen of the Damned was clearly fated to be in this column, as it stars my favorite recurring subject, The Guy Who Didn’t Get Aragorn.

It also stars Vincent Perez, Claudia Black, and Lena Olin, who deserve so much better than this movie that I can only hope they all found themselves being blackmailed into these roles. Because seriously, you guys.

The Queen of the Damned ostensibly follows the rise of the vampire Lestat from Tom Cruise to international rock god and ancestor-summoning hotpants. Really, it follows the descent into madness of a makeup designer and camera operator; I’ve never seen so many crane shots of undereye circles.

Ten minutes in, I knew I was in for a treat, because we meet about 10 characters, and I don’t care about a single one of them. Not even Vincent Perez, who manages to have a Caesar cut in 157o; while research proves Marius was around in Roman times, it still makes Vincent Perez look like a skull with a brocade bathrobe, and was probably not such a great idea, cinematically.

He plucks Lestat from an unknown location and makes him a vampire, which means we’re treated to ten minutes of Stuart Townsend looking half-orgasmic, sucking on corn syrup and speaking like he’s undergoing a mild seizure. Alarmed, I run to phone the paramedics and miss the next few minutes.

The next scene is actually lovely, because it’s nomads at a campfire, and one of them plays a lovely tune on a fiddle! Stuart Townsend, being Stuart Townsend, fucks it up by overacting and underemoting at the same time. He winds up playing a fiddle of his own (not a euphemism) and managing to out himself publicly (still not a euphemism), and then, to avoid detection, chases down a girl and does her to death (seriously, still not a euphemism).

Now that the movie has become a cult gay masterpiece, let’s move blithely on.

The years pass. For me, I mean; I’ve been sitting here forever. In the movie, it’s maybe ten minutes. Lestat plays the fiddle he stole from the girl he killed (that’s cold, buddy. I mean, it’s pimp, but damn, it’s cold), and the music is so enticing that he wakes up the two stones in his basement (STILL NOT A EUPHEMISM).

Cut to the modern day, where Lestat is a leather-pants-clad, off-key, over-produced wonder. I swear he opened for Linkin Park last year. His “seductive”  rock music has filled Goth clubs throughout the nation, and the whole underworld is abuzz with the news that he’s holding a huge public concert. Most excited about his development is Bjork impersonator Jesse, a mortal obsessed with vampires because the script told her to be. She goes to one of this taboo bars in an attempt to find him. He’s hiding in the shadows (Aragorn audition?), and she doesn’t see him, because she’s as sharp as a loaf of bread.

Luckily, when she charges in the alley in an attempt to be cool, he’s there, a swirl of bad CGI, saving the day! She’d be worried about it, but he’s limping like someone broke his left leg a little and he’s being followed by the cameraman as he walks in circles for five minutes, so she’s figured out this is a student film project and manages to extricate herself.

Night of the big concert! Turns out the statue in the basement was Aaliyah, and she’s dressed for Fetish Night at the Egyptian Appreciation Society. She goes to the same demon bar (is there only one in London? Because that’s a big city and I’ve been there and seriously, at least half of those people are vampires, so there have to be other places to go for a bloody good time – get it? Bloody? Puns are awesome) and ends up burning it to the ground, which is probably for the best, because she’s not wearing much and I bet she could use the warmth.

As Lestat and some uncredited extras posing as his band prepare for the concert, he’s interrupted – Marius! What a surprise! Still as pasty and skully as ever! Thank goodness; I was afraid for a moment that you’d be good-looking, like you normally are, or like Marius was in the books. Man, am I ever glad to be wrong! Purple under-eye-shadow works like a charm on you! Really!

He and Lestat have a tense, charged reunion scene that cuts to a tender heart-to-heart that leads to a projection of Stuart’s crotch (STILL NOT A EUPHEMISM). Turns out Lestat has daddy issues! Marius, like the rest of the audience, is a little confused, since that never came up, and we’re already an hour and 15 minutes into this movie.

When Lestat goes home, he has a treat waiting for him in the form of Jesse–remember Jesse? Me neither, but apparently Lestat does, because when she greets him with a coquettish “Boo,” he smirks and replies with the greatest come-on of all time:

“Boo back.”

I’m not sure I can do justice to this line. The “boo” is drawn out for at least two whole seconds, which doesn’t sound like much, but try it. It’s creepy, but in all the wrong ways, like your tongue is swelling or your brain got eaten by fungus. And again, Stuart, seriously, this delivery is so effeminate and lounging that you might as well just carry around a sign that reads STILL NOT A EUPHEMISM, because otherwise you’ll be protesting until your dying day.

But hey! Concert time! Five thousand Goth extras were brought in for this scene (no, seriously, I found one of them and got a set report). This is only sad because I saw the first of six thousand crane shots of this scene and immediately thought, “God, what posers.”Not that I was incorrect; I just think that if they could hear me they’d have to reapply their eyeliner a little from sadness.

The set spy also mentioned that Stuart got “carried away” and sang along to the playback, and let me tell you, that was a mistake. I had thought, up till now, that League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was awful in every way a movie can be awful, but it turns out I was wrong, because Stuart Townsend trying to perform a rock song is something I had been spared in that crap heap of a movie, and I am now grateful. He’s wearing a shirt with sleeve ties that makes him look like a reject from the Roman Senate, he’s walking like he’s having another seizure, and he’s rolling his eyes like–okay, no, seriously, I think the guy’s having a seizure. Someone help him!

His band doesn’t help, because their per diem doesn’t cover that shit.

Turns out they don’t cover helping out with vampire attacks, either, because a few guys bust out from the crowd and the band just screams and runs. Marius helps, though! He’s brought a posse of people who never even get introduced, so it’s not like they’re going to be a whole lot of help, but we’ll pretend they matter, and just cheer that Marius’s aerodynamic haircut makes him first to the scene of trouble.

He and Lestat finish off five guys (I swear to God, still not a euphemism) before Aaliyah shows up for no real reason; ostensibly she was saving them from the onslaught, but this movie could only afford three stuntmen, and they were looking pretty tired, so I would say the vamps stood a chance, but what do I know? She takes Lestat with her and flies off. She has a jet pack or something.

Then they have sex and my eyeballs bleed and I’m not even talking about any of that.

So, here we are at Lena Olin’s house, after absolutely no one has had sex! Turns out all those glorified extras that roll with Marius East Coast-style are actually disparate, powerful old vampires (I know, right?) who have banded together to fight Aaliyah, though they might die if they kill her, as she’s their primogen. Interesting, right? I know! There should be a movie about this.

A good one.

Aaliyah and Stuart appear, and clearly Aaliyah has gotten the message about the euphemism thing, because she’s dressed Stuart in a black skirt and a black bead necklace and nothing else. Stuart looks elated. Lestat is apparently a chiffon sort of guy.

Lena Olin spouts off a lot of exposition, then grabs her cash-only fee for this movie and bolts, and the rest of the extras get replaced by stuntmen as they converge on Aaliyah and finish her off.

Or something. I’m sorry. I really couldn’t. I rewound and listened to the pretty fiddle until I felt better.

So: a vampire unwillingly made, a world unwillingly subjected to his music, and a movie unwilling to admit the obvious.

What? I’m talking about Marius’s haircut! What’s wrong with you people?


Genevieve is a prolific writer of speculative fiction living in New York, but you’ll never find her there because millions of people live there and Genevieve likes her privacy. Examples of her fiction can be found in Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, Federations, and numerous other magazines and anthologies. Her first novel is forthcoming in 2011. Also? She has terrible taste in movies.

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