Queen of the Damned (2002)
Audio Commentary- Director Michael Rymer, Jorge Saralegui, Jonathan Gibbs
Deleted Scenes-13, with text introductions
Featurette-Behind the Scenes
Interviews-Crew-The Music of Lestat: Making the Soundtrack, Concert, Score
Music Video-Redeemer - Lestat (Marylin Manson)
Music Video-Forsaken - Lestat (David Draiman)
Music Video-System - Lestat (Chester Bennington)
Music Video-Cold - Static X
Alternate Music/Sound Score-Extended Concert Footage - Not Meant for Me
Alternate Music/Sound Score-Extended Concert Footage - Slept So Long
Gallery-Set Photography, Costume Design, Conceptual Art, Storyboards
Notes-Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles - Overview of the series
Dolby Digital Trailer-Train
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (47:01)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Michael Rymer|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
After many decades of slumber, The Vampire Lestat has awoken with a hunger to be seen for what he is and a thirst for super stardom. Hearing the ever-increasing cacophony of popular music broadcast through the airwaves during the latter half of the twentieth century has had a subliminal effect on the hibernating Lestat and he dreams that he can achieve what vampires may secretly wish to do but are forbidden by convention: to live out in the open before all as what they truly are, the living dead. After coming to the understanding that during this age, one can become almost a god with millions of adoring subjects (fans) worshipping your every utterance, Lestat seeks out a vehicle to achieve this goal, and to his surprise the start of his journey is taking place right in his very own house.
A young band is rehearsing in what might be a abandoned house. They have a sound that would sell a million records, but they lack one crucial element, a lead singer. So when, during a rehearsal, the band suddenly hear someone singing their music in the room without amplification, the are startled. When they see someone...something move from one part of the room to the other in the blink of an eye, they are terrified. But Lestat has come with another motive in mind, a proposition that will take the young band to the heights of popularity.
With the band's music being broadcast throughout the world and the lead singer blatantly proclaiming that he is a vampire, many of the world's vampires are taking a dim view of this upstart's antics and together vow to silence Lestat forever. Lestat teases them to 'Come out, come out wherever you are'. And while Lestat's music enthrals a generation, it also awakens another vampire that has, like Lestat, slumbered for many years. However, this vampire has slept for much longer and she is also much more powerful, for she is the genesis of vampiredom: The Mother of all vampires, Queen Akasha.
Now, with The Vampire Lestat on the eve of his debut live performance in Death Valley, The Queen of the Damned has awakened from centuries of sleep to wipe from the face of the earth the weak offspring that are only a shadow of Akasha's vampire purity and feed on humans outright without secrecy. Lestat, having drunk the purest blood of Akasha early in his vampire years, becomes the object of Akasha's affections and she seeks for him to join her in a quest to subjugate humanity in her diabolical rule.
Meanwhile, Jesse, a member of a paranormal investigation society, begins to suspect that Lestat may be just what he claims to be and is drawn to him by her natural inquisitiveness...and something more. Now begins the struggle to defeat the sadistic desires of Akasha and save not only humanity (strangely), but vampiredom itself.
Oh, how I had such high hopes for this film. After the success of the incredibly popular 1994 film Interview with the Vampire, I thought that we'd have a worthy successor in the Vampire Chronicles. Sadly, this has turned out not to be the case. Let me detail.
First up. This is NOT Ann Rice's Queen of the Damned. Don't be fooled by the author's name added to the title of the film. While based on characters created by the writer, this is someone else's Queen of the Damned. Perhaps Michael Rymer's Queen of the Damned or Warner Bros. Queen of the Damned. Who knows whose damned movie this is, but is isn't the story of the characters as detailed in the series. So many liberties have been taken with the original source material that the tone and character of the work have been washed away in an attempt to make the film easily accessible and marketable. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, as long as the integrity of the source material is maintained. This didn't happen here.
Perhaps the problem with this production is that, given the budget constraints and anticipated marketability, the producers thought that the correct course of action would be to make a film that could be seen without any knowledge of the Vampire Chronicles and perhaps without having seen the first film production of the Chronicles. This is the film's first mistake. Having set the course with Interview with the Vampire, one would have thought that its follow-up would continue in the same vein, perhaps not stylistically, but with some sort of continuity. Sadly, not even continuity with the first film, let alone the books, is followed. In this film, Lestat is created by Marius, not Magnus as is the case in the book. This leads to a strange and unfamiliar relationship between Marius and Lestat that sits oddly with anyone familiar with the series. It also flies in the face of Lestat's claim in the first Chronicles film where he states that he learned nothing from his maker. Jesse, the Talamascan investigator, has an exaggerated role in the film and even stranger, she has a lust/attraction/love for Lestat that serves no other purpose other than to create a 'love interest' for Lestat. That way, when we eventually get Akasha on the scene with her desire to have Lestat, we have someone to barrack for in the good girl Jesse. In turn, the story of Maharet is severely diminished and the story of the twins is completely gone. This is despite the fact that it is intrinsically involved in the back story of Queen Akasha and her genesis as the first vampire.
Queen of the Damned, Akasha, also comes to us in a very different manner than in the books. Aaliyah isn't anything like the Akasha of the books. Although she is described as being a foreigner in her kingdom, I always thought of her as a much more imposing figure and while Aaliyah has the grace and poise that suits the character, she fails to carry out the imposing part. Baring your fangs isn't enough.
Stuart Townsend falls into the the same sort of category with a performance that is fine for this film, but not quite what I'd imagined we'd get for a film based on the books. While having some of the qualities of the Lestat of the series, we miss out on so much more. The Lestat of the books comes forward as a much more compassionate figure (really). I always thought of Lestat as a 'brat prince', almost cheeky and perhaps even a larrikin in the Australian vernacular. In the books as told by him (the first book, Interview with the Vampire was narrated by Louis), Lestat is portrayed as quite a moral soul frequently at odds with his vampire 'life'. This necessitates his only taking the blood of the 'evildoer' rather than whatever prey may come his way. In the book, Lestat offers his point of view on the incident as set out in the first book, Interview with the Vampire, where Lestat toys with two whores while Louis looks on with horror and sympathy. Lestat later recounts that these two prostitutes would drug their victims, steal their money and kill them. To Lestat's way of thinking, he was not only acting in self defence (as the two whores would surely have killed him if they were able), but preventing the death of future innocents. Contrast this to Lestat in this film taking two band groupies brought to his house to be a meal for him by his band manager, Roger. The Lestat of this film toys with the young victims before feasting on them while they scream in horror. This isn't the Lestat I've known, and to portray him as a random killer in search of blood defeats the case for him to rally to the cause of humanity in the face of the marauding Akasha. After all, if you aren't going to object to the casual killing of innocents, then why protest Akasha's plan to feed on humanity openly?
Also unusual is the sexual attraction between Akasha and Lestat. It makes for a convenient plotline, but there was no such relationship in the series and the implied sex between the two is completely off as vampires (in this incarnation) are sexless with only pure relationships and interactions on an intellectual and emotional level consummated. This is why Lestat can love Louis and Armand and Gabrielle (his mother) without the constraints of homosexuality and incest, for in vampiredom, these do not exist. This film never seeks to explain any of this and instead, for the sake of expediency, makes Lestat and Akasha vampire lovers. It doesn't ring true with me and didn't need to be included in the story.
At the end of the day, I could go on and on about how this film conflicts with both the previous film and the original source material, but all would be irrelevant if the film worked on its own. It doesn't. You can't rely on a back story and previous incarnations to hold up much of the story and characters and then chop and change almost everything about these things to make a stand-alone film. You either have to be reasonably faithful to the source or start from scratch. This film attempts to straddle the two and it falls down quite badly. If the producers wanted to do a vampire film within the world created by Anne Rice, then perhaps they should have asked her to create a story within the world of the Vampire Chronicles in which to base their film. Alternatively, they could have remained within the source material and filmed a faithful adaptation of The Vampire Lestat and/or Queen of the Damned. Instead, the producers chose to take the story and mutilate it to suit a easily digestible 98 minute film. Completely the wrong thing to do, and we have it on screen as proof.
As I said before, I had very high hopes for this film and was excited at its production, so much so that I sought (and achieved) the chance to appear in the Death Valley Concert scene. This was filmed in an abandoned quarry in Werribee, Victoria in December, 2000. Word made its way around that the producers of the film were looking for about 3000 extras for the massive concert scene. I couldn't help but be caught up in the whole thing and with the appropriate Goth garb on, I made my way to the set by bus with hundreds of others. Once on the set, we were spoken to by the director as to what we would expect and what scenes we would be filming. Despite the concert taking place in Death Valley, California in summer, Werribee at 2 am in December is quite cold. You can see it on the breath of the cast (see Aaliyah's breath at 69:38). Still, the night was a very interesting one with a close-up look at filmmaking which I can report is quite a bit of standing around and waiting for the cameras to be set up for a particular shot. All I can say is, at 3 am, thank God for coffee and Red Bull. And just for the record, that's me at 64:22, holding up the last crowd surfer (and doing a terrible job) before the stage on the left. My 1.5 seconds of fame...
Despite this disappointing film, I had a great time and considered it a privilege to have seen Aaliyah in her last role before her tragic and untimely death in late 2001. The sad thing that links this film and the first film of the Vampire Chronicles is that they are both dedicated to young stars connected to the films, both of whom were sadly taken from us much too early and long before they could reach their potential. The first was River Phoenix, who was originally cast as Daniel, the interviewer in Interview with the Vampire. He died during the first weeks of production and his role was subsequently taken up by Christian Slater who donated his fee to a charity favoured by River. Of course, the second film is dedicated to Aaliyah who was killed in a plane crash after completing a music video. A terrible loss, as Aaliyah was to go on and star in the Matrix sequels. For both of these young stars, we never did get to see them at their peak, but still, we do have their work committed to disc to enjoy for years to come.
There is hope yet for this series as Anne Rice is connected to the production of an 8 hour mini-series covering The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned and perhaps some of the other books. While I think it is unnecessary, she may choose to return to Interview with the Vampire and cover some of the material there. Anne Rice did offer to contribute to the script on this film, but sadly the offer wasn't taken up and in the end, what we get is a hodge-podge mess that bears little resemblance to the original source. It could have been so much more, but it isn't. If you are a fan of the series, then watch this at your peril. Just keep remembering that it is based on the books of Anne Rice, and live in hope that some day we can see justice done to the story.
While not of reference quality, the transfer here is reasonably good with some minor niggling faults. The disc presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. The transfer is quite clear and sharp with clarity of image not a major issue throughout the program. There is a slight blurriness of image at There are some quite vibrant colours used during this picture, but they are not what I'd call exaggerated and for the most part, we have a fairly natural depiction of the colour range here. There is some chroma noise visible at Thankfully, MPEG artefacts are not a problem here with a very good job done in the compression department. Aliasing does raise its head from time to time in a minor fashion with examples to be seen at There is one subtitle option on this film, that being English for the Hearing Impaired. While not for word for word, the subtitles do convey the meaning of the dialogue fairly well.
The disc presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is quite clear and sharp with clarity of image not a major issue throughout the program. There is a slight blurriness of image at83:27, but this is an isolated problem. As would be expected with a film centred around the 'Creatures of the Night', we have quite a good level of shadow detail and many of the darker scenes reveal a quite impressive range of resolution. I didn't find low level noise to be a problem with this film.
There are some quite vibrant colours used during this picture, but they are not what I'd call exaggerated and for the most part, we have a fairly natural depiction of the colour range here. There is some chroma noise visible at23:42, but for the most part, it isn't a real problem. Its commitment to disc doesn't seem to have adversely affected the image and colours are displayed with competency.
Thankfully, MPEG artefacts are not a problem here with a very good job done in the compression department. Aliasing does raise its head from time to time in a minor fashion with examples to be seen at1:58 on the coffin lid, 28:17 on the violin bow, 30:46, 45:10, 53:11 on the edge of the satellite dish and 91:49 on the blinds (of course), and edge enhancement rises from the crypt at 52:59. There is some cross colourisation to be seen after the music video "Cold" on the cover of the soundtrack album. There is also an analogue tape tracking error that hovers over the soundtrack cover image, specifically over the names Disturbed and Deftones. This looks as if the tape was paused to place this image on screen for a certain length of time. This is a very clean transfer and film artefacts are mostly absent from proceedings.
There is one subtitle option on this film, that being English for the Hearing Impaired. While not for word for word, the subtitles do convey the meaning of the dialogue fairly well.
This disc is formatted RSDL with the layer change taking place at 47:01. A good place for a layer change that does not disrupt the flow of the film. Most modern machines will render the change unnoticeably.
For the most part, the audio on this disc is handled well, with a few exceptions. These exceptions are due to a quite noticeable crackling in the sound which can be heard several times on this disc. During the film it can be heard at 62:33 just before the start of the Death Valley concert. This crackling, which had me checking my system for loose connections, also appears during the extended concert sequence during the song "Slept So Long" in the Club Reels section. There are 2 audio tracks available on this disc, these being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix as well as an audio commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix serves the film well and while there was initial talk of a I found no real problems with the dialogue quality here and most of the spoken word is quite intelligible through the film, despite the prosthetic teeth. Audio sync was not a problem with this disc with the exception of Lestat's vocals during some of the concert scenes. While he works the microphone well, you can easily tell that he's lip synching. Perhaps he is singing to a backing tape in the film, but that is never hinted at and one just has to conclude that we have fairly ordinary sync in the 'live' concert. Music for the film comes from former Oingo Boingo keyboardist and film composer Richard Gibbs along with Korn frontman Jonathan Davis. While Davis is fairly fresh in the world of film scoring, Gibbs has a proven track record having composed the scores for such films as the 2002 hit I Spy and the Martin Lawrence comedy Big Momma's House in 2000. With Davis's musical contributions in total synergy with the musical mood of the film, we get a very good cohesion between the traditional scoring of the film along with the numerous rock numbers. This is very evident in the scene after Akasha destroys the vampire club where the song System (a song that Aaliyah loved to dance to) fades out while the score comes in in perfect sync behind it. Many would continue to play a rock song while the score attempted to bring the emotions to a head, and as we've seen before, to make the scene effective, you really have to either drop the score or fade out the real music as it is being heard on screen.. It's simple things like this that make a score stand or fall and despite the fact that overall I was disappointed in this film, I do have to commend Gibbs and Davis on a very good score that serves the film well. Contributing the vocals for Lestat as heard during the film, one would really have to thank the guys that helped bring the voice and music of Lestat to life. These are David Draiman from the band Disturbed, Marilyn Manson, and Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. Of course Jonathan Davis lends his vocals to the mix, too. In the end, the one saving grace of this film is its soundtrack and while I always thought of Lestat's music as being in the vein of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (which says something about when I read the series), the style we see and hear here is very good.
There are 2 audio tracks available on this disc, these being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix as well as an audio commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix serves the film well and while there was initial talk of adts track on this disc, its lack of inclusion doesn't seem to detract from the whole thing too badly.
I found no real problems with the dialogue quality here and most of the spoken word is quite intelligible through the film, despite the prosthetic teeth.
Audio sync was not a problem with this disc with the exception of Lestat's vocals during some of the concert scenes. While he works the microphone well, you can easily tell that he's lip synching. Perhaps he is singing to a backing tape in the film, but that is never hinted at and one just has to conclude that we have fairly ordinary sync in the 'live' concert.
Music for the film comes from former Oingo Boingo keyboardist and film composer Richard Gibbs along with Korn frontman Jonathan Davis. While Davis is fairly fresh in the world of film scoring, Gibbs has a proven track record having composed the scores for such films as the 2002 hit I Spy and the Martin Lawrence comedy Big Momma's House in 2000. With Davis's musical contributions in total synergy with the musical mood of the film, we get a very good cohesion between the traditional scoring of the film along with the numerous rock numbers. This is very evident in the scene after Akasha destroys the vampire club where the song System (a song that Aaliyah loved to dance to) fades out while the score comes in in perfect sync behind it. Many would continue to play a rock song while the score attempted to bring the emotions to a head, and as we've seen before, to make the scene effective, you really have to either drop the score or fade out the real music as it is being heard on screen.. It's simple things like this that make a score stand or fall and despite the fact that overall I was disappointed in this film, I do have to commend Gibbs and Davis on a very good score that serves the film well. Contributing the vocals for Lestat as heard during the film, one would really have to thank the guys that helped bring the voice and music of Lestat to life. These are David Draiman from the band Disturbed, Marilyn Manson, and Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. Of course Jonathan Davis lends his vocals to the mix, too. In the end, the one saving grace of this film is its soundtrack and while I always thought of Lestat's music as being in the vein of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (which says something about when I read the series), the style we see and hear here is very good.
This disc presents a very effective and busy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix with the surrounds used effectively, though not to a distracting extent. The rears stand out at 27:00 and 49:24 as well as at other times, whilst giving a constant atmospheric sound to the rest of the film.
The subwoofer also has plenty to do backing up some of the action and happenings on-screen as well as supporting the music during the film which has a fairly large bass component.
|Surround Channel Use|
Selecting Special Features takes us to the first page of features that offer:
Cast & Crew
This is a simple static page listing the principal cast and their roles as well as the names of the major crew and their titles.
Commentary - Director Michael Rymer, Producer Jorge Saralegui and Composer Richard Gibbs
While I usually shy away from criticizing commentaries, there is one major beef that I have with this one. It spends way too much time explaining why the filmmakers deviated from the source material. This commentary could have been retitled "Why we didn't make Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned". While understanding why the producer and director chose to go the way they did is important, it should not have been at the expense of explaining other things about the film's production. Alternatively, perhaps a second commentary might have been in order with perhaps the production designer and head of visual effects or a cast commentary with Stuart Townsend. Unfortunately, we really only get half a commentary with too much time being taken up with talk about a movie they didn't make.
This is a section featuring 13 deleted scenes. They were deleted for either continuity or pacing, but it is interesting to have them here. The menu offers you the option to play all the deleted scenes or for you to select them individually. Each scene is preceded by a short single page explanation as to why the particular scene was cut. All the scenes are presented in 2.35:1 and are not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. They are as follows:
1. Original opening with time-lapse - 2:17
The original unused opening. The audio suffers from excessively high levels which cause some distortion.
2. Original Jesse dream sequence and meeting roommate on the street - 2:54
Features Australian actress Pia Miranda as Jesse's roommate. Pia's role was removed from the final cut of the film altogether.
3. Marius talks with Lestat on beach - 1:04
4. Jesse goes to the Admiral's Arms #1 - 2:13
A different take on Jesse's first trip to the vampire club. This was re-edited to be used in the film.
5. Band plays in the Admiral's Arms - 2:00
Features Australian musicians Aimee Nash and Robin Casinader.
6. Groupies with "garlic" end - 1:40
Humorous scene that is a funny gag (and would have been the funniest thing in the film had it been included) that didn't suit the tone of the film. A bit of fun with Australian actor Tiriel Mora of Frontline fame.
7. Jesse on plane, Lestat in L.A. mansion. Jesse dreams of Akasha, band watching videos 2:58
8. The Ancients rise - 2:06
9. Ancients at Hollywood sign - 3:07
All the Ancients gather under the Hollywood sign to plan their move now that Akasha is in the picture. Unnecessary scene. Loved Matthew Newton's accent. I kept waiting for him to say "I vant to drink your blood".
10. Akasha dances - 3:50
An extended scene of Akasha dancing in the Admiral's Arms to the song System, a song that Aaliyah apparently loved to dance to.
11. L.A. mansion. Jesse talks with Lestat, extended flying sequence - 4:45
It is funny having the flying sequence here, as the Lestat of the books hated the act of flying as it was the one thing that completely removed him from whatever humanity he had left. Doesn't matter though, as the script of this film doesn't follow the books.
12. Jesse writes her aunt and goes to the concert - 1:54
13. Band backstage at concert, Jesse walks through crowd. Ancients watch - 1:22
This feature offers us the following selections:
Behind the Scenes - 9:48
This in an interesting behind the scenes look at the production of the film that covers some of the important technical aspects. These are broken up into: Creating the Vampires - Flying, Creating the Vampires - Effects Makeup, and Creating the Vampires - Digital Effects.
Aaliyah Remembered - 3:10
A moving and sometimes humorous look at the actress during her time at work on her last picture. A future star taken too early.
Interviews - 11:36
This covers mostly the musical aspects of the film. This is two-fold as not only does the film require a traditional score, it also requires quite a bit of music that is to be part of the film and storyline. This section is broken into 3 sections:
This menu presents us with some full length videos as seen in the film. The first 3 are Lestat videos with the fourth being a promotional video from a song used in the film. All the songs are presented full frame with audio being Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. The three Lestat songs are:
Static X Music Video: "Cold" - 3:19
This is not one of Lestat's songs, but rather one that is featured in the film as part of the score. It's used in the scene where Lestat takes the two groupies. This video is the movie tie-in version with snippets of the film edited in. The standard video for this song also features a vampire theme but shows nothing of the film.
Second page of Special Features
The second page offers us:
These are extended concert scenes that are presented in their complete form and not as seen in the film. The footage is in 2.35:1, non 16x9 enhanced. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.
Gag Reel - 2:47
Your typical goofy outtakes and bloopers done to a humorous swing soundtrack. Presented in 2.35:1, non 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.
Stills Gallery - 63 images
This gallery features numerous still images concerning the production of the film. These include photos from the set, costume designs, initial concepts and storyboards.
Theatrical Trailer - 1:55
This is indeed the original theatrical trailer with only the one version on offer. It's presented at 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.
Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles - 7 pages
This is a short introduction to the books of Anne Rice in the Vampire Chronicles. Of passing interest only for anyone already familiar with the books.
Features the original web site.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
As far as I've been able to ascertain, we have the same content as that afforded Region 1. I'm still waiting on a copy of the Region 1 disc to determine whether the crackling audio problems that sometimes trouble this disc are present on the R1 disc.
The Region 4 disc misses out on:
As I said before, I really did have high hopes for this film, but in the end I was disappointed. There have been too many liberties taken with the original source material, so that we end up having a shadow of the story's former self. Of all the writers whose work one would choose to film in a truncated fashion, Anne Rice isn't the one to pick. Attention needed to be paid to the script and how it was going to be filmed. I don't even blame director Michael Rymer for this one. It's whoever wrote the script that should be called to account. There is so much that this film could have done, but sadly, we don't get to see it here.
The video is quite reasonable with only niggling problems visible.
The audio is reasonable but it suffers from some crackling and distortion at times.
The extras are fairly comprehensive and should satisfy anyone interested in this film's production.
|DVD||Panasonic A300-MU, using S-Video output|
|Display||Hitachi CP-L750W LCD Projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|