There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
The late Aaliyah plays Queen of the Damned’s title character, but she’s actually a bit player in this goth-rock vampire flick, which concentrates on undead Lestat (Stuart Townsend) and living Jesse (Marguerite Moreau, who was a Mighty Duck as a kid). Derived by screenwriters Scott Abbott and Michael Petroni from some of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, the movie features evocative locations—most of them faked in director Michael Rymer’s native Australia—and credible special effects, but its campy dialogue and comic-book aesthetics are closer to The Crow than Interview With the Vampire. After sleeping for a century, Lestat wakes up in a New Orleans crypt, summoned by a goth-metal score loud enough to wake the undead. Enlisting a local band, Lestat takes his Nine Inch Nails-y music (actually composed by Oingo Boingo’s Richard Gibbs and Korn’s Jonathan Davis) to the top of the pops. Vampire buff Jesse, who works for a London-based institute that studies the paranormal, decodes the clues in Lestat’s lyrics; she rightly surmises that the ascendant rock star is an actual vampire, violating the shadowy clan’s code by stepping into the spotlight. While Jesse tries to get cozy with Lestat, the bloodsucking rocker also draws the attention of his old mentor Marius (Vincent Perez), who tried to teach him to be discreet. At a Death Valley concert, Lestat is attacked by outraged fellow vampires, who are then dispatched by Akasha (Aaliyah with an electronically treated voice). She’s a long-dormant ancient Egyptian ghoul queen who’s revived by the big beat of Lestat hits like “Slept So Long” and subsequently takes the rocker as her consort. But the new couple soon has its first big fight: Lestat is somewhat ambiguous about killing humans, whereas Akasha simply adores piles of corpses. Viewers who are sensitive to stereotypes will note that the African vampire embodies pure blood lust, while the European ones (who include Lena Olin) all have scruples. Overall, though, Queen of the Damned is far too flimsy to support such anthropological or theological musings. —Mark Jenkins