ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  michael rymer

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  horror

LENGTH  -  101 minutes

RELEASED  -  22 february 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  queen of the damned

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $35,000,000
queen of the damned - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from queen of the damned at

buy the dvd from queen of the damned at

the vampire lestat becomes a rock star whose music wakes up the queen of all vampires.

the concert scenes are set in death valley, california, but were actually filmed in werribee, australia.


picture from queen of the damned

picture from queen of the damned

picture from queen of the damned


two out of four possible stars

In a word, camp. Campy camp camp camp. Tthis film reeks of the kind of horror you don't know whether to laugh at or with. But, in a strange twist of what should be considered a laughable time at the movies, the camp in this film works, as long as you don't make anything serious out of a few horrid accents and some over-eager costuming. Of course, "The Queen of the Damned," Aaliyah's character in the film, is an ancient Egyptian queen. So perhaps the over-the-top bodice pieces and multitudes of jewels can be forgiven. And it must be said that every actor in this film plays their storylines so emotionally and melodramatically that it almost matches the fervor with which the costume designer dressed each of these individuals.

Not a thing has been held back in this film and the whole package, taken together, is really quite entertaining. One doesn't have to be a rabid fan of the vampire genre, or even the horror genre in general, to enjoy this film. But it's a certainty that unless you are a so-called rabid fan of these types of movies, it's a film worth experiencing only once. But only once in the theater. This film has big-screen written all over it. The lavish sets and beautiful, pore-less actors in this film have visages that just beg to be displayed on a twenty-foot screen. And speaking of pore-less, it would be fair to say that the make-up budget of this film probably exceeded the salaries of any of the main actors.

Of course, it was probably a requirement that any blemishes or flaws in the vampires' bodies be covered up with make-up. And boy was there a lot of flesh shown in this film. One of the mildly laughable parts of this film was the way the actor who played "Lestat," Stuart Townsend, was minus a shirt for about three-quarters of the film. And as this mimicked Aaliyah's barely clad performance in most of the film, the words (or initials, rather) MTV invariably come to mind. In dress, cinematography, and acting, this film resembles more a music video made for that channel than it does a straight horror film. It is probable that the people responsible for the money on this picture knew their audience would be filled with that young, hip demographic and tailored the picture to suit it.

As it relates to its precursor, Interview With a Vampire, this film is quite a different picture. While Interview relied on character and story to create an engaging film, this picture looks more to character dress and special effects to create its vision. And, in fact, the director of this film, Michael Rymer, has had a history of dealing with music stars in his films. Like his direction of L.L. Cool J. in In Too Deep, Rymer here makes a good case for the fact that it is possible to create a two hour long music video. And while that idea might be somewhat overwhelming for people not in the target audience of MTV, the end result here is probably more fun than anything.

It is possible that the people in charge of the bank accounts for this film knew that the target audience would skew young and urban and so tailored the film accordingly, with a lot of loud music and strange angles to make these model-perfect actors look beautiful on film. The music video sensibility and fashion plate cast are there for entertainment rather than filmic genius and Michael Rymer gets the job done. Most of the time. Because it's hard not to notice that the myriad characters presented in this film pack quite an ensemble element into the film. And although the characters, most of them, are from Anne Rice's book, the fact that they were all smashed into ninety-five minutes makes it hard to "get to know" any of the humans or vampires. The many stories and relationships present between the characters are never really developed and during many scenes, the characters are never introduced to the audience and though they hover around in more than once scene, their names are never mentioned.

And yet these people (or vampires, rather) have an impact on the story. This lack of attention to character identification creates some difficulties in understanding the series of events throughout the picture. often, there are half a dozen people standing around conversing and only one or two of them have been introduced to the audience. But this lack of attention to character extends to the "cast regulars," as it were, as well. The main characters of the film, including Lestat, Jesse, Akasha, Marius, David, and Maharet (and there are more important characters too! this film has too many people in it!) all have histories of their own, some of them being more than a few thousand years old nd all of these people have relationships with one another and histories and none of these characters are really ever fleshed out. And that's not a pun.

Aside from a strangely annoying imitation of what could be considered a french accent, Stuart Townsend, who playes "Lestat," is as much a mystery at the end of the film as he was at the beginning. Every single character in this film is just as mysterious. And that Stuart gives a good performance is beside the point. Most of the actors in this film do a more than decent job with the material. But strictly beautiful faces do not an interesting picture make. This film has a cast who's almost up to the task of overcoming a shallow approach to a novel with a lot of depth makes this film better than it should be. The reliance on special effects (all of which weren't the best) and the needlessly large cast make for a film that's more fun than "deep," though still an impressive sight on the big screen.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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