Queen of the Damned (15)

Review by Simon Bell

The Mother of All Vampires only wants hell on earth and this time, the tag proclaims, there are no interviews.

Whereas the previous film, based on a book from Anne Rice's popular Vampire Chronicles - the Tom Cruise-starring 'Interview With the Vampire' - lacked the necessary bite, this one has trouble mustering a gentle nibble.

Narrative is of little importance, but the story goes something like this: Waking up after centuries with nothing for company but cobwebs, ghostly white Lestat decides to pursue a career as a rock star. The intoxicating lure of his heavy Goth-rock vocals then finds the ear of slumbering ancient Queen Akasha (Aaliyah) in her crypt beneath the Arctic ice. Now, she ponders, would be a good time to seize domination of the world.

Stuart Townsend slips into Cruise's cape and coffin, picking up the fangs of the degenerate vampire to very mediocre effect: He's unintentionally more of a teen idol Michael Hutchence-type than a dark and brooding Jim Morrison androgyny.

In flashback we see how Lestat, an 18th Century French nobleman, was schooled in the arts of blood-sucking by Marius (Vincent Perez).

All the usual pornographic homoeroticism prevails. Elsewhere, despite the vast amount of pseudo love-making taking place, the scenes raise nothing in the way of sexual titillation.

Meanwhile, the subterranean chambers have all the authenticity of the London Dungeons (albeit minus the tourists). The nods to the German expressionism of such horror classics as 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' and 'Nosferatu' can't lift the piece from its damp sanguinariness.

Of mild interest are the rumours circulating that Queen was to go straight to video, but was then rescheduled for release on the big screen following Aaliyah's death in a plane crash last year. The late star is at least watchable: as most softly undulating, semi-naked, bronze-covered pop babes are. She also has the best exit from a Mile End boozer ever committed to celluloid.

In the end then, Queen slips all too easily into the stock high octane, flashly-edited, MTV style video. And it's just not in the least bit scary.

At one point Lestat, meeting his mentor for the first time in a hundred years, asks him: "How did you manage to slip through the 50s in red velvet?" "I slept", comes the reply.

Silly silly silly silly silly. You may even want to add one or two more.