‘Queen of the Damned Review’ by Joe O’Donnell, Jr.

Joe O'Donnell, Jr.

Joe O'Donnell, Jr.

Queen of the Damned is based on upon Anne Rice’s books The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned.  The movie was very good with its characters, dramatic story, dark settings, and special effects. My thought is that this movie is far better than the Twilight Saga. The comparisons between the two are quiet evident. The Twilight Saga deals more with a love relationship between two young people of different backgrounds, whereas Queen of the Damned deals with power struggles between two generations within the same cult. Queen of the Damned heralds in a new beginning for those interested in the myths of vampires, whereas the Twilight Saga feeds off this film’s momentum to focus on theirs for a love story. To explain the argument in favor of this movie, the following explains the theme, characters, and setting of the movie based on the story created by Anne Rice.

The main protagonist of Queen of the Damned is Lestat de Lioncourt, who was once a French noble, but has turned into a vampire by another vampire, Marius de Romanus. Lestat doesn’t want to spend his eternal life unknown and alone. He seeks power and wants to be idolized by the human race. Even though he drinks blood out of necessity to sustain his life, his victims haunt him.

Marius is an elder vampire who seeks the company of another. He kidnaps Lestat and turns him into vampire. While training Lestat in vampire ways, in his spare time, he paints portraits and landscapes. For him, this is the last human quality that he upholds and enjoys. Marius once served under Akasha and Enkil. He was tasked to watch over the king and queen of vampires while the slept.

     Queen Akasha is the mother of the vampire race. Akasha and her husband Enkil once ruled Egypt and nearly destroyed humanity. Enkil loses his blood lust and soon after so does Akasha. Their bodies turned into stone and rested for all eternity. Those who were loyal to the king and queen watched over them. If Akasha and Enkil were killed, the whole vampire race would be destroyed.

Jessie Reeves is a researcher for Talamasca, an organization that monitors the world of the occult. Jessie, as a little girl, lived with her aunt Maharet, who is a vampire. She wanted to become a vampire like her aunt, but Maharet wanted Jessie live as a human and cast her out of her life. She is torn between the worlds of humans and vampires.

Maharet is an ancient vampire, who also served under the vampire king and queen. When she was mortal, she gave birth to a child before she turned into a child of the night. Maharet forever watches over her mortal bloodline. This is her only link of humanity outside of the realm of the vampire. She has taken care of Jessie since the death of her parents. Even though she turned Jessie away from her world, she has always watched over her.

David Talbot is the head researcher for Talamasca and is Jessie’s mentor. He is over protective of Jessie. David embraces the rules of Talamasca, but has an obsession with the vampire, Marius. David has a few secrets of his own, and unknown to the rest of the organization, he has collected a number of Marius’ paintings over the years.

  These are the main characters of the story, and the producer of the film makes the connection between the character and how their lives have intertwined to fashion the story. Although Anne Rice had volunteered to assist in writing the screenplay as she did with the conversion of her novel with Interview with the Vampire, the creators chose not to do so. Their intention was to appeal to the younger generation is evident.

The story continues when after lying in a tomb for years, Lestat decides to awake once more into the world. After dining upon human blood, he decides to go to his home in New Orleans. In his decaying house, a bunch squatting musicians are practicing. While playing, they hear an eerie sound. As they look around, Lestat appears out of nowhere and the musicians are frightened. Lestat introduces himself and tells them that he is a vampire. The group is skeptical about his claim, until he shows some of his powers. The drummer asks; “are you going to drink our blood?” With that question, Lestat offers to make their dreams come true and they accept him as their leader. As lead vocalist, Lestat and his band become loved around the world and attract numerous fans.

The next scene takes you to when Jessie wakes up after dreaming of a past recollection. She has the television on while eating breakfast and writing. Lestat’s music video is playing in the background and Jessie overhears the lyrics and is intrigued by him. She researches Lestat’s music and finds hidden meanings. Jessie reports her findings to the lead members of the Talamasca. The council is worried with some of the research that was given, and tells Jessie that she isn’t a field agent. They asked if she has consulted with David before she went into further research. David interrupts the meeting and tells Jessie to come with him.

     In David’s office, he reminds Jessie about the rules of the organization. Jessie is frustrated. David shows her paintings in which Marius had made. He tells her that Marius made Lestat into a vampire. She questions her mentor about this knowledge. He tells her that he has Lestat’s diary and Jessie is overwhelmed with excitement. David offers the

Journal to her, but only if Jessie agrees not pursue her research any further. Jessie reads the journal that tells about Lestat’s history. The journal had only fueled her interest to find Lestat. The journal represents the connection between this story and Anne Rice’s previous work in her vampire series.

The story moves forward to London where a press conference is being held for Lestat’s band. Lestat is introduced via satellite from a remote location. The press asks him about the concert being held, vampire secrets in his lyrics, if the vampire race was angry with him, and does he have a messages to all the vampires. The vampires who are watching this broadcast are angry by this and Lestat’s taunting. Lestat had betrayed his own kind and they decided that he must be killed.

Most of the filming for this movie is done at night to represent the lifestyle of a vampire. There are very few daytime scenes, so the film is made in noir fashion. The young fans, band, and many of the vampires are decked out in gothic apparel. Even Jessie is dressed in the same fashion. The clothing style shows a clear-cut difference between followers of vampirism and those of the normal world. These points and the film’s music have also been chosen by the director to make a connection with a younger audience.

Stunts created in the film were fantastic. Many of the scenes which showed the vampires flying were created by using wires and harnesses to maneuver the actors in the different sets. These effects were enhanced by the filmmakers in posted production by using special editing utilizing video graphics to reinforce the movement of the actors. Video and computer graphics were used in many of the scenes to add authenticity as well as visual appearance of the vampires.

Makeup artists also applied their craft to create blood and bite wounds that added to the realism of the story. Michael Rymer, the director of the film, masterfully put all the pieces the film together in both the production, and post- production, processes.

The actors’ dialog was perfect for the film’s periods and settings. The script was well written and rehearsed. Even though this film didn’t receive rave reviews by the critics, it will certainly become destined to become a classic in it own rite for those who are interested in vampires. Even though there is no direct connection to the latest vampire craze, the movie has a major influence on the interest in such productions as True Blood and the Twilight Saga. Since the original story Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker in 1897, this movie proves that the love affair with vampires and the legend that created them will never die. The movie will surely create much interest for those who purchase the book to learn more about the story and Anne Rice’s work.

With all this said, both films seem to possess identical special effects and character personalities. Here is where both films take different paths. In Twilight Saga, the producers add the teenage love angle and throw in werewolves to make the story different. This is almost a copy of a combination of Queen of the damned, and theme behind the movie Underworld. Queen of the Damned however, sticks to its original underlying story written by Anne Rice. Therefore this movie stands out as an original piece of work with no need to copy other films to make it great.