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Film / Queen of the Damned

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"Come out, come out, wherever you are."

Queen of the Damned is a 2002 Dark Fantasy film directed by Michael Rymer. Based on the third installment of Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, it is a sequel of sorts to the 1994 film Interview with the Vampire. Unlike its predecessor, though, this film plays very fast and loose with the events of the original novel.

The story begins when the Vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend) awakens after decades of slumber, and decides to launch a career as the frontman of a Nu Metal band. He soon achieves international stardom, but also earns the wrath of his vampire brethren, who despise him for flaunting his vampiric status, and fear the exposure of their secret world. Yet Lestat's music also awakens a far more potent threat — the ancient Egyptian vampire queen Akasha (Aaliyah, in her second and final film appearance, released posthumously), who promptly embarks on a murderous rampage, mowing down humans and vampires alike in her ascent to power. She chooses Lestat as her new consort, and forces him to become an accomplice in her brutal massacre of humankind. It is down to a handful of friendly-ish neighbourhood vampires — including Lestat's maker, Marius (Vincent Perez) — and student of the paranormal, Jessica "Jesse" Reeves (Marguerite Moreau) to rescue Lestat — and, you know, save the world.

This movie provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Lestat was (repeatedly) described in the books as blond and blue-eyed, whereas Townsend has dark hair and brown eyes. Marius was similarly described as having long blond hair, yet Vincent Perez has short black hair.
  • Adapted Out: This film is much more liberal with the axe than its predecessor. Louis and Nicolas are both entirely absent, despite being Lestat's love interests and, especially in Nicolas' case, integral to the plot. (It was his violin Lestat played to wake Akasha.) Daniel is also dropped, leaving Armand Demoted to Extra as his plotline revolved mostly around Daniel. Mekare is also missing, apparently having become a Composite Character with her sister Maharet, and while there was a character named Khayman much of the backstory involving him was dropped to focus on the modern plot. The Talamasca agent Aaron Lightner has also been removed from the film, with his role as Jessie's mentor being taken over by the Composite Character David Talbot.
  • Advertised Extra: The title character does not appear until an hour into the movie (unless her statue form counts). The film draws elements not only from its own source novel, but also from The Vampire Lestat, and he is the central character along with love interest Jesse Reeves (whose actress, Marguerite Moreau, never even gets a mention). There's also the fact that Akasha's actress, R&B singer Aaliyah, died six months prior to the film's release, and the movie was heavily promoted as her last "starring" role.
  • Age Lift: The character of David Talbot, the Superior General of the Talamasca Caste, a paranormal research society, is played by the (then) 42-year-old Paul McGann. However, in the novel, he is in his 80s and is nearing the end of his long and full life. Ditto for Jessie Reeves, played by Marguerite Moreau (24 at the time), who is supposed to be 35 in the novel, although this can also fit under Hollywood Old.
  • All Part of the Show: When some disgruntled vampires attempt to destroy Lestat while he performs onstage, the humans in the audience seem to assume the ensuing conflict is staged – despite various vampires getting blatantly decapitated, stabbed and incinerated before their eyes.
  • Asshole Victim: Akasha butchers a club full of remorseless, bloodthirsty vampires who tried to kill Jesse earlier. The other vampires are still shocked at her sheer carnage and delight at devouring them.
  • Antagonist Title: Akasha is the Queen of the Damned, a superpowerful Vampire Monarch whose bloodlust is so great that she feeds on everyone, mortals and undead alike.
  • Anti-Villain: Lestat is a remorseless, amoral killer, but he has an incredible capacity for compassion and empathy. And, as he'd point out, he's just obeying his nature when he kills.
  • Ax-Crazy: Akasha is a very insane bloodthirsty vampire who loves to slaughter both humans and vampires just to satisfy her extreme bloodlust. Her bloodthirst was so extreme that during ancient times she nearly wiped out all of humanity due to her bloodthirst.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: When Akasha rips another vampire's heart from his chest, the heart continues to pulse for a few seconds before she feasts on it gleefully and sets fire the bloody residue in her hand.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • A genderswapped version with Enkil as the Betty and Lestat as the Veronica to Akasha's Archie. Lestat most decidedly wins when Akasha murders Enkil in order to pursue Lestat. And then...
    • Akasha as the Veronica and Jesse as the Betty to Lestat's Archie. Jesse wins when Lestat turns on Akasha in order to save his Betty.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The movie begins with Lestat waking up from his sleep and drinking a black man dry.
  • Blood Countess: Akasha used to be an Egyptian nobility who drinks blood, and is considered to be an ancestor to the vampire race. She also wears revealing clothes.
  • C-List Fodder: Puny humans in general, plus basically all vampires except Lestat and the Ancients.
  • Composite Character: Maharet is mostly herself, but takes over some of her missing twin Mekare's role as well— specifically, consuming Akasha to become the new Queen.
  • Conspicuous in the Crowd: Lestat can pick out the enemy vampires at his rock concert because they stand stock-still, staring unblinkingly at the stage as the crowd dances around them. (The Black Cloaks are also a giveaway.)
  • Creator Cameo: Johnathan Davis makes an appearance as a scalper peddling tickets outside the concert.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Lestat can fly, has super strength, super speed, is musically gifted, can seduce any girl he wants, is a famous rock star, but still wishes he was human because he's lonely.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Akasha, if she feeds on enough people, can walk around in the sunlight as much as she wants without being harmed, allowing her to live in the open as a true Queen. By letting Lestat drink her blood she passes this ability on to him. Another change from the books; those who are old enough (such as Akasha and Khayman) are no longer burned by it, but they can't even function in daylight, as once the sun comes up over the horizon, they fall instantly asleep.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lestat. Oh, and Marius. And Pandora in the deleted scenes.
  • Death by Adaptation: Mael and Pandora were both killed, despite being rather important figures in the books (particularly Pandora, who was actually the protagonist of one of the sequels).
  • Demoted to Extra: Armand has two lines in total, and isn't even named as himself except by Word of God, though in the book he was a major player. Much of this is probably because Daniel Molloy was Adapted Out, and Armand's plot mostly revolved around Daniel.
  • Diagonal Cut: During the fight at the concert, Lestat slices through another vampire's neck with a long curved knife before kicking the body, causing the head to fall off.
  • Dull Surprise: Jesse. In fairness to Marguerite Moreau, it probably wasn't her fault as she was given very little to work with, but the fact that almost every other actor involved is hamming it up to hell makes her lackluster performance stick out like a sore thumb.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Lestat is a vampire who has no problem killing people to satisfy his needs, but when he sees that Akasha has wiped out a whole town to allow them both to walk in the sun he asks her why she would want to rule over a kingdom of corpses.
  • Evil Overlord: Vampire Queen Akasha's reign over Ancient Egypt with her consort King Enkil is inferred to have been insanely tyrannical. Marius notes that she nearly drank the world dry to satiate her bloodlust and she shows several visions to Lestat of random massacres of her subjects. Later on she feeds on hundreds of people and declares the resulting graveyard her new kingdom to a disturbed Lestat. In the climax she announces to the other Ancients that she wants to return the world to the way things were and reduce humanity to cattle.
  • First Girl Wins: Jesse is the first of the two love interests to technically interact with Lestat.
  • Food Chain of Evil: Akasha drinks the blood of vampires and humans alike.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampires: Marius, Maharet and their friends do feed on humans, but prefer to otherwise live in harmony with the human world.
  • Frozen Fashion Sense: Many vampires in the film are wearing outfits that look like the Society for Creative Anachronism's best efforts, from the bizarre pseudo-belly dancer chic Pandora dons in the background to Akasha's interpretation of prehistoric Egyptian royalty's clothing. It partly makes sense with some of them, as a deleted scene shows them being woken up from who-knows-how-long slumber by Lestat's song. Like everything else in the movie, this doesn't match the book. This is lampshaded by Lestat (who is dressed as a rock-star) when he sees Marius wearing the same red velvet outfit as he did centuries ago, when he asks him how he managed to slip unnoticed through the past several decades wearing that.
  • Genre Mashup: The original songs might have been written by Johnathan Davis but they incorporate Glam Rock, Goth Rock, Industrial and Industrial Metal influences alongside the Nu Metal component of the sound. The result is pretty enjoyable, possibly even for those that dislike Nu Metal generally.
  • God-Emperor: Like the Pharaohs, the first vampire Queen Akasha was seen as a God-Queen when she ruled over Ancient Egypt.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Even other vampires are terrified of (and disgusted with) Akasha, as she preys on them as readily as humans.
  • Goth: The film pretty much summarizes all the goth types, even the poser ones as the female protagonist dresses up in a rather obviously fake attire to attract the attention of Lestat the vampire.
  • Happily Ever After: Lestat and Jesse, after he turns her to save her life.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Lestat turns on Akasha at the first real opportunity, and helps the other vampires defeat her.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Lestat wears a lot of leather as part of his rock star image.
  • Hemo Erotic: Akasha and Lestat drink each other's blood during sex.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Lestat and Jesse.
  • Hollywood Old: David is either this or a reverse Age Lift. The character was actually old in the books, but in the film is played by Paul McGann, who was about forty years old at the time. The script doesn't make too much of whatever age he's intended to be, but he does claim to be "too old to live forever".note 
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: When the other Ancients rejects Akasha's plans to subject the world again, she demands that Lestat kill Jesse to prove his loyalty to her. He does feed on Jesse, but fails to kill her, and then attacks Akasha.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Lestat is highly resentful after his creator Marius spontaneously abandoned him to keep Lestat away from Akasha. After Marius revisits him when Lestat becomes a rock star in the present, Lestat calls Marius out on not speaking to him for centuries and says that it's far too late for him to take a paternal interest. In the books, Lestat's maker was a French vampire named Magnus; he met Marius a few years later.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Lestat post-vampirism.
  • I Love You, Vampire Son: Jesse is turned by Lestat, who has feelings for her. At the end of the movie, they are seen walking away, holdings hands. In the book, she is turned by her distant ancestor Maharet and has no relationship with Lestat.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: "This will only hurt a little. In fact, you might enjoy it."
  • Ironic Echo: During a conversation Lestat and Marius have midway through the film, Lestat notes that vampires don't settle old scores, they harbor them. Later in the movie Akasha tells Lestat that she has to settle an old score before confronting the other Ancients.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Akasha and Lestat's accents are both rather...difficult to place.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Akasha kills off numerous lesser vampires in various bloodthirsty ways (like ripping out one's heart and eating it). Since they're all portrayed as bloodsucking monsters, no tears will be shed, it's just to establish Akasha as Eviler than Thou.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: Generally subverted. While the vampires do usually drain blood this way, the victims tends to be horrified out of their minds by the experience, even if they thought they were into it at first.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: Akasha turned into a statue at some point during her reign of terror, with Marius being entrusted to safeguard her and prevent her release. However, Lestat's violin solo is enough to cause her to wake up partially and move her arm so Lestat can drink her potent blood.
  • Mayfly–December Romance:
    • Jesse and Lestat. The first is a human woman in her twenties, the second a vampire several hundred years old.
    • Lestat and Akasha. Both of them are vampires, but Akasha is thousands of years older than Lestat.
  • Metal Scream: Lestat.
  • Monster Progenitor: Akasha is the ancestor of all living vampires. Her origin story from the books is left out, so it almost seems that she was a bloodthirsty monster all her life.
  • Monster Lord: The Ancients are an informal vampire aristocracy, although they don't advertise themselves to the rest of their kind. Akasha even considers herself the Queen of the entire species. This is actually one of the things from the novel the movie got right, as younger vampires mostly thought the Ancients were myths, a misbelief they were happy to let stand.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Stuart Townsend, who spends most of his time as Lestat shirtless and wearing leather pants.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ashaka wears a what looks like a metal bra on her body that leaves the rest of her upper body uncovered.
  • Music Genre Dissonance: In the movie adaptation, Lestat plays in a Goth Rock band, but their music sounds like a very metallic Alternative Rock.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Trailers for the film — and even the title — imply Akasha to be the central character. It's actually Lestat. Not only does Akasha's total screentime add up to about twenty minutes, her only purpose is to tempt Lestat into being evil.
  • No Bisexuals: Lestat's canonical male love interests from the novels are nowhere to be found in the film (with the possible exception of Lestat and Marius, who have a rather ambiguous relationship). Nicki's absence was especially jarring to book fans, considering his crucial importance to Lestat's backstory (in The Vampire Lestat, it was Nicki's Stradivarius that he played to wake Akasha).
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: Lestat.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Used by the vampires, although here it seems to be literal teleporting with Super Speed as a second skill.. For instance, Lestat introduces himself to his rock band in the opening to prove his supernatural nature, and Akasha uses it on another vampire to seduce him... before ripping out his heart and eating it.
  • The Older Immortal: The Ancients, who are hundreds or more years older than most of the current vampire generations and believed to have deceased by the younger generations. Akasha stands out in particular, being the first of all of them and probably having lived for five or more millennia, dating back all the way to Ancient Egypt.
  • Physical God: Marius notes that their vampire mother Queen Akasha is a living god and seems to have been seen as such when she ruled over Ancient Egypt. Presumably a God of Evil, since she personally slaughtered most of her human subjects.
  • Playing with Fire: Akasha's primary means of destruction, as she can immolate most vampires at will.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Jonathan Davis of Korn wrote the music and the words for Lestat's songs in the movie (the novel had blatantly vampire songs; the film had more ambigous ones). For contractual reasons, he couldn't sing the songs himself on the CD release(he does sing the in-film versions), so they were performed by other well-known singers (Wayne Static of Static-X, David Draiman of Disturbed, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, and Jay Gordon of Orgy).
  • Promoted to Love Interest: The film version made the main subplot a romance between Lestat and Jesse, the two main characters who, in the book, do not speak. One of the many things altered from the book is the identity of Jesse's maker. In the book, it's her "Aunt" Maharet (actually her many-times great grandmother-turned-vampire). In the movie, it's Lestat. This was obviously meant to reinforce the bond between the characters, which was never there in the book.
  • Race Lift: Possibly both the King and Queen Of The Damned. While only Enkil's statue is seen in the film, he is quite clearly a white man. And while Akasha was the queen of Kemet (ancient Egypt) of six thousand years ago, the character was from Uruk before marrying into Enkil's throne. So she'd be middle eastern, but she's played by a black actress (Sub-Saharan descent). However, even the books are pretty vague about this, as Akasha's pale white skin has nothing to do with her race, but the fact that vampires lose their pigmentation the older they are. No matter what race or skin color they were in their human lives, they are both pale white as a statue now.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Akasha.
  • Saving the World: Marius and student of the paranormal, Jessica "Jesse" Reeves are trying to stop Akasha from mowing down humans and vampires alike in her ascent to power.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Akasha's bloodthirsty rule over humanity was stopped when she and her husband turned into statues and slept for centuries. Lestat briefly awakens her shortly after being turned and again draws her attention when he starts to live in the limelight as a rock star.
  • Sexy Mentor: Paul McGann looks quite good playing the protagonist's mentor (who got an Age Lift downward from the novel version). But since Lestat is around to gawp at, Jesse doesn't seem much fussed about her cute, young-ish mentor or any of his advice.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: David, who keeps taking them off and putting them on in every scene.
  • Speed Echoes: Used to unintentionally hilarious effect. Vampires' unnatural speed is represented by a smeary trail of afterimages... even if the vampire otherwise appears to be moving at the same speed as nearby non-vampires.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Jesse comes off like this towards Lestat, pursuing him around the globe to get closer to him.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Marius pulls this on David Talbot after taunting him with the usual person-pass-in-front-for-a-second trick. Could be justified with Marius being a vampire and thus a Super Speedster, except that all vampires can usually be still seen as a fast-moving shape. Then again, this could be a tribute to him being so old (he's Roman). Mael also pulls this on Jesse.
  • Superpower Lottery: Queen Akasha is by far the most powerful of the vampires, explained by being the progenitor of the race, absorbing her husband's powers (who was the second vampire) and their power increasing with age. In the movie she demonstrates Super Strength, Super Speed, Offscreen Teleportation, Flight, telekinesis, pyrokinesis, telepathy throught blood contact, the ability to know the location of every vampire on Earth due to being their creator and being able to walk in the sunlight unharmed by drinking enough people to death (and passing this on to other vampires by drinking her blood). She wipes out whole groups of vampires without even touching them, so it's little wonder that they call her a living god. It takes a Zerg Rush by most of the other Ancient vampires still alive to even hurt her.
  • Taken for Granite: Queen Akasha and her husband King Enkil ruled over Ancient Egypt as tyrannical vampire monarchs before Enkil lost his thirst and turned into a living statue. Akasha soon followed suit and both were kept in safekeeping by Marius before Lestat found them.
  • Tears of Blood: Elder vampire Maharet weeps a Single Tear of blood in a dream/memory of Jesse's. Possibly the only aspect of the film more book-accurate than its predecessor, as when Louis cried in Interview with the Vampire, his tears were just tears.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Jesse throws herself into countless dangerous situations, although she blames this on her curiosity. Lampshaded by Lestat:
    Jesse: I know a lot of things.
    Lestat: Not how to stay alive, apparently.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Lestat and Akasha are shown making out/drinking each other's blood in a bath filled with rose petals.
  • The Unmasqued World: The other vampires are pissed off at Lestat for exposing their kind to the world by choosing to live out in the open by becoming a rock star.
  • The Vamp: Akasha tries to tempt Lestat to become her consort and do as much evil as they like as the world trembles before them. Earlier, she also seduces a male vampire in a night club with a sexy dance and kisses him, upon which she tears out his heart and eats it in front of the shocked crowd.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Lestat and Akasha are shown to be sensual lovers. This is also exploited by the vampires, as Lestat uses his "sex god" rock persona to lure in victims as dimwitted groupies literally throw themselves at him, only to be bled dry by Lestat. This is yet another change from the books, as vampires can't have sex. (Technically, they "can", but it's heavily implied that they feel no pleasure from the stimulation.)
  • Vampires Own Night Clubs: The vampires use this as places to attract their victims, as there are people who seem to get off on being fed on. Jesse is almost killed after venturing near such a club in downtown London before she's saved by Lestat in the nick of time. Akasha later enters the same place in search of Lestat and soon starts a massacre.
  • Vampire Monarch: Akasha is the eponymous Queen of the Damned, and also ruled over Egypt as an actual God-Queen.
  • Vampires Sleep in Coffins: Lestat opens the film getting out of his coffin, having been woken up by an amateur hard rock band playing next door. However, he sleeps in beds for the remainder.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Averted. Even the Friendly Neighborhood Vampires drink blood.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: The mother of all vampires, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh known as Akasha, wants the much younger vampire Lestat to be her lover after she discarded her previous one to absorb his power. He reciprocates at first, but eventually turns on her since her plan to Take Over the World is too extreme for him.
  • Villain Opening Scene: Of a sort; Akasha, not Lestat, is the subject of the opening credits. However, she's still a lifeless statue before Lestat awakens her halfway through the film.
  • Voice of the Legion: Akasha has a mild version of this. Due at least in part to the fact that Aaliyah died after the principal photography was completed, and her brother was called in to assist with overdubbing after the fact.
    • Lestat also has this, which is how he makes himself known to the humans who would become his band.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Lestat is more frequently half-naked than fully clothed.
  • Wall Crawl: Lestat does this when two groupies try to "entertain" him. They're impressed at first, and then terrified when he shows his fangs. Then he drinks their blood.
  • Weakened by the Light: Lestat becomes immune to this after he drinks Akasha's blood.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Lestat, Akasha, and Marius all have invented vaguely-European accents that just serve to highlight the World of Ham. Akasha's in particular is practically indecipherable.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: In the film version, this is the driving force behind Lestat's actions, and thus the entire movie.
    "Immortality seems like a good idea, until you realize you're going to spend it alone."
  • Yandere: Akasha develops an attraction to Lestat after being taken with him when he plays the violin for her and allows him to drink her blood. After she wakes up centuries later she murders anyone who might prove a threat to Lestat and kidnaps him at his concert to have him for herself. She also killed her previous husband by ripping out his throat to make herself available, orders Lestat to murder Jesse to prove his love for her and tries to kill him without a second thought when he refuses.