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QUEEN OF THE DAMNED: DVD

SYNOPSIS:†
After a 100 year hibernation, the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Stuart Townsend) is woken by a new generation of music and becomes a famous rock star. Breaking the vampire code, Lestat tells the world that he is a bloodsucker and announces he will perform at a concert in Death Valley. Seeking him out is Jesse Reeves (Marguerite Moreau), an investigator of supernatural phenomena who has family links with the vampire world. His music has also awakened Akasha (Aaliyah Haughton), a powerful vampire queen who desires Lestat and wishes to make him her king.†


Review by Louise Keller:
With a modern-day theme of blood, fame and rockíníroll, The Queen of the Damned may not please everyone with its music video approach, but thereís a feast of visuals to lap up with its spectacular production design and vampish escapism costumes of black leather. Itís a far departure from his AFI winning Angel Baby for director Michael Rymer, who has embraced the genre wholeheartedly in this big budget Hollywood movie shot in Australia. Itís a dizzy ride of distinctive debauchery and a fun bloody feast of vampire diversion. The script jumps around a little, but itís the look of the film that remains its most outstanding feature, with lush and decadent themes including plenty of animal print and marvellous costumes. Stuart Townsend is strikingly pallid as the ambitious Lestat and devastatingly photogenic in the tight close ups through Ian Bakerís lens. The tragic and untimely death of Aaliyah at the tender age of 22 is a sad reminder that this is her last film. The film has been dedicated to her, and she certainly looks fabulous in Angus Strathieís skimpy, sensual and elegant costumes. Marguerite Moreau is appealing in the role of Jesse, countering the theatricals effected by Townsend. The outdoor rock concert is a fitting climax, and the 3,000 Melbourne locals were impressively untiring in their enthusiasm. Watch out for Urban Cinefile editor Andrew L. Urban, who plays a cameo as a journalist in the opening press conference scene.†

The DVD has plenty to offer with a host of excellent special features including a lively gag reel set to music, which features a compile of goofs that happened on set. From the actors breaking up to wire-work gone wrong, and itís fun to see Aaliyah and Townsend breaking up during a love scene. There are 13 additional scenes featured, including the original opening with time lapse photography, that was designed to show the passing decades. But filmmakers were not happy with the preliminary visuals and this scene was left out altogether. This section also features the original and uncut scene when Akasha dances, which was in the end Ďtrimmed to heighten tensioní.

The behind the scenes documentaries are impressive, covering the stunts, how the wire-work was effected, creating vampire effects plus the visual effects. We are shown prosthetic work on Aaliyah, with a commentary. There are interviews with all the main players Ė from actors to filmmakers, and Michael Rymer features with very short hair, unlike the long style he was wearing when the film was shot. Thereís a tribute to Aaliyah in which her brother Rashad Houghton talks about the star, as well as an interesting feature on the making of the concert and recording the score.

But itís probably the filmmakersí commentary (with Michael Rymer, producer Jorge Saralegui and co-composer Richard Gibbs) that gives the greatest insight into the relationship of the film with Anne Riceís novels, offering background behind crucial decisions for its making. One such issue is the appearance of LeStat, who is blonde and blue eyed in Riceís novels, yet in the guise of Townsend, is brown haired with brown eyes. The filmmakers believed it was more important to get the best actor for the role rather than an actor who fitted the look, and although Townsend did try wearing a blonde wig, it was decided that he looked better with his natural brown colouring.

Published October 10, 2002

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QUEEN OF THE DAMNED: DVD (M15+)
(Aus/US)

CAST: Stuart Townsend, Aaliyah, Marguerite Moreau, Vincent Perez

DIRECTOR: Michael Rymer

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 16:9 enhanced; audio: Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Filmmakers Commentary; Additional Scenes; Documentaries Ė Behind the Scenes; Aaliah remembered; Interivews; Music Videos Ė Lestat Music; Videos: Redeemer, Forsaken, System, Static X Cold; Club Reels; Gag reel; Stills Gallery; Cast & Crew; Theatrical Trailer; Anne Riceís Vampire Chronicles

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: October 16, 2002







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