Sunday, January 9, 2011

Review: Queen of the Damned (2002)

Director: Michael Rymer
Starring: Stuart Townsend, Aaliyah

Oh my GOD this was a horrible movie! Just…ugh. UGH. On every level! I can’t think of a better way to introduce this that won’t end in violence to someone, maybe even myself, so let’s just dive right into the crack-induced destruction of everything cinema worked so hard to establish, Queen of the Damned.

The film starts off with the credits, which are played over some shots of statue heads and other Gothic looking stuff, and it quickly goes into our first bit of pretentiously ball-aching narration by lead wannabe transvestite Stuart Townsend, playing here the Vampire Lestat. It starts off pretty typically, giving us the usual spiel about the vampire’s immortality being all fun and games until you realize you’re alone in the world. You know, the usual soul-searching diatribes given. But where it really gets, um, interesting, is what he says immediately after this. He says, in a nutshell, that he wants to become a rock star.

…what? WHAT? I’m sorry, there aren’t enough WHAT’s to go around for that sentence! The logic used is just insane. A vampire is lonely so he becomes a rock star? What kind of lunatic thought that up?! It’s like saying…a werewolf is conflicted because he can’t control his instincts, so he becomes a milk delivery man. Frankenstein’s monster was jealous of other peoples’ ability to feel and emote with each other, so he decided to invent a new type of candy. What’s the connection here? In what fucked up parallel universe does this make sense?

Oh, fuck it, so he goes and…doesn’t waste any time, I guess, as he finds the first shitty ass rock band he can come across and tells them he’s joining them. I love the editing in this scene especially; like when Lestat ‘teleports,’ it’s more like they just turned the camera off and everyone switched places while the director snorted some more coke. Editing so bad you’d swear it was out of a home movie. And Stuart Townsend is just a miracle, isn’t he? It’s like he didn’t even have any direction besides ‘play the most generic pretty-boy vampire ever and make sure to have a condescending smirk on your face and roll your eyes upward at all times.’ I mean, I don't think I've ever seen a worse caricature of every single damned girly-boy, gothy, depressed vampire ever made. He looks the part and he sounds the part, with every bit of smarmy, slick arrogance you'd imagine. And his lines, too. Garbage like "My black little heart" or "There is nothing but the cold, dark wasteland of eternity." Oh, yes, speak to me, great lord of all that is whiny and sissy!

Well, I'd love to say this surprised me, but frankly if Lady Gaga can get popular, this isn't much of a longshot.

Then the director gets bored with that scene, I guess, and jumps forward to a random time when the band is now famous for having a vampire on vocals. Through a lot more directionless narrations that the movie assumes are interesting, we see him getting two random hot chicks at his mansion for…some unexplained reason…and he got them there by doing…some other unexplained thing. I’m glad this movie is so thorough. They try to have sex with him and stuff, but then are, for some reason, surprised when he starts crawling on the wall and then jumps down to “taste” them. Gee, you go to the house of a guy who at least claims to be a vampire and then are surprised when he does something like this? I’d say that makes you FUCKING MORONS! But that’s just my opinion.

And then…a flashback! Because that makes sense! Because the flow of this movie wasn’t incoherent and disjointed enough, we get a random flashback 20 minutes into the movie about the origins of this character. Do you people know anything about telling a story, about coherent narrative flow? What sense does this flashback make, at all? Sigh…okay, so basically the flashback tells us that this other vampire named Marius invaded Lestat’s home one night over 200 years ago and turned him into a vampire. Then, he…oh, wait, we’re switching scenes again; guess the filmmakers decided they didn’t want to take their ADHD pills again.

Now we’re watching a young woman watching one of the music videos of the band fronted by Lestat. She goes into work the next day and tells a board of people in important looking suits – apparently some kind of paranormal research group – that she found hidden messages in one of the band’s songs that leads people to a vampire coven in England…I’m sorry, what? Personally I think the parents whose kids committed suicide because of Judas Priest songs had a better case. Apparently this group has Lestat’s diary in their library somehow? I don’t know, they just needed an excuse to show the flashback.

…and then back to the flashback again! We see Lestat going into this dark chamber and playing a violin really fast, which somehow wakes up this ancient ‘mother of all vampires’ called Akasha, or something, but not all the way. Then Marius plays some kinky bondage games with Lestat – don’t ask me – and leaves randomly, with no explanation given. Apparently a lot of time passes, Lestat…is magically untied somehow…and then wanders the Earth, convinced that he will be alone forever because this one guy left him. What a pussy.

So because she read the diary, the woman, named Jesse, decides she has to see more. So she goes on a plane to England to find the vampire coven. Why? What motivation does she have to do this? I don’t know. I’m just going to assume she got majorly into Twilight a few years after this. It makes sense enough. In the vampire bar she gets into trouble with a bunch of hungry, horny vampires and is saved by Lestat, who happened to be there. This is an excruciating scene with a ton of really, really bad attempts at the whole ‘forlorn, loveless vampire’ clich√© shoehorned in with all the articulation of a sledgehammer crashing down on the window of your car. They exchange ominous dialogue in low, whispery voices about how she knows his pain and how she thinks she knows him well, and then the tired, trite scene mercifully ends. God, this movie is lame. It’s like every horrible middle-schooler’s emo-vampire phase multiplied by a thousand and translated into film. It’s just painful beyond belief.

She comes back later to give him the journal, and also because she wants him to take her out and make her a vampire, too. Again, no logical reason why this character thinks this way; she just kind of does. They go out and Lestat scares away some lowlife trying to attack a woman, only to attack her himself.

"I find you sexy because fat 14 year old girls would, and this movie needs to sell sex."
"Is she okay?"
Well...not anymore she isn't.

Meanwhile it turns out that Akasha, that vampire queen from earlier, is apparently awakened again by music, even though it was never explained why she fell asleep again after the first time. What’s up with these vampires being awakened by music, anyway? When was that part of the legend? It’s not that I really mind messing around with the canon, but…this just doesn't make sense. Why was she turned to stone anyway? Why does music of all things wake her up? What kind of music is needed? Will any kind do, or are there certain kinds that work better? There are so many questions here you could just fill a goddamn phone book with all of them and still not have any answers!

So at the concert full of songs written by the douchemonkey from KoRn (and no, I’m actually not making that up; it is true), Akasha attacks and sort of kidnaps Lestat away while Jesse and everyone else is watching. Boy, they must feel ripped off, man. I’d ask for my goddamn money back if I was there. Not that I would ever go to a concert with music from the guy who fronts KoRn sung by a feminine, prissy-goth-vamp poser with a voice like a cat thrown into a cheese grater:

Making even KoRn look dignified. That's impressive!

I actually have self respect. Even if it is diminishing every second I watch this.

Akasha and Lestat talk for a while in low, spooky voices, because there is no other mode of discourse in this film at all, and then we get…uh, well, look at these pictures:

I mean WOW, you thought this movie couldn’t get worse? It just plummeted off a cliff with an anvil attached to its back; that’s how far it just dropped. A stylized sex scene, coming randomly out of nowhere with no warning or segueway, with the two of them reimagining American Beauty’s artsy bathtub full of rosebuds thing. Except here it’s done with all the taste and style of a three month old trash bin! And all the while with horrendous, ass-felching 90s-style nu metal playing in the background. ISN’T THIS JUST SO USEFUL TO THE FILM? I can’t imagine it without THIS scene! Ugh, somebody PLEASE kill me now.

So I guess the movie kind of forgets the whole concert thing, even though that was what it was building up to this entire time, and just throws in a new plot in the last twenty minutes. God, what the fuck, man? Can’t you just stick to one central script and plotline? You’re breaking me here, movie! You’re really pushing me to my limits! From what I can tell, there’s this group of ancient vampires who are in this weird garden-mansion place that apparently Jesse visited a lot as a kid, and has now somehow found again. These guys are all trying to get rid of Akasha, who poses some kind of vague threat to mankind.

Akasha, meanwhile, has killed a bunch of random people and littered them all over the yard of Lestat’s house, which seems to piss him off, because I guess he’s a good vampire now. The two of them go – without Lestat putting on a shirt for some reason; guess they needed the extra fanservice to keep the brainless goth girls watching – to fight those ancient vampires. Akasha gives some generic speech about how mankind is a disgrace and how they should be destroyed, and after watching an hour and twenty minutes of THIS GARBAGE I am inclined to agree.

So Akasha tells Lestat to prove his loyalty to her by killing Jesse. They face one another…the shot dissolves into a very similar shot of them facing each other, from a different angle…and then he bites her. Then he bites Akasha’s arm, too, because this movie really wants to go for the whole ridiculous sexual angle on the vampires. But it turns out he’s just faking it the whole time! And then both Akasha and the viewer are gang raped by silly cartoony special effects:

They kind of eat her alive, which begs the question as to why everyone was so afraid of her…she got killed in like 5 minutes when they actually confronted her; it seemed pretty damn easy! Why were they making such a big deal out of her? She turns into an oil-spill survivor, and then erodes into dust in an extremely over dramatic display of mediocre special effect jerking off that probably cost more money than it did to pay for the writers of the film. Jesse gets turned into a vampire, the soundtrack vomits out some more garbage and I want to gouge my ears out.

I mean, man, this is a miserable piece of cinema. Queen of the Damned is a movie with no reason to exist beyond causing pain. Pure, unadulterated, gluttonous pain, straight from the fiery pitchforks of down below. There is no logic here, no real plot, no anything that isn’t covered in a slimy layer of disgusting music and even more disgusting pretension as it tries to make us think these vampires are SO COOL. This is a movie that exists solely to make ugly black-mascara clad pre-teen girls with no lives or boyfriends squeal – “Oh, it’s so sexy and erotic!” Literally, that’s the only reason this sewer scum ever got popular. Pure wet-dream fuel for people who aren’t going anywhere in life. Fuck that. This shit’s the worst and I can't see any defensible reason that anyone would enjoy it.