Singer Aaliyah gave an iconic performance in Queen Of The Damned, but sadly, the rest of the movie wasn't up to her level. Queen Of The Damned is the sequel to 1994's Interview With The Vampire, based on the novel by author Anne Rice. The book was published in 1976 and finds a vampire recounting his life story to a reporter. The novel marked the first appearance of Rice's famous vampire Lestat. Interview With The Vampire took a long time to receive a movie version, with Rice pushing for Blade Runner star Rutger Hauer to play Lestat.
Tom Cruise was eventually selected for the role in Interview With The Vampire, with Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, and Kirsten Dunst filling out the cast. Rice was less than impressed with Cruise's casting, however, since she found him utterly ill-suited to the part. Despite her public objections, she praised Cruise's performance after viewing the final product and admitted he had proved her wrong. The movie was also a big hit and while director Neil Jordan initially considered making a sequel from Rice's novel The Vampire Lestat, he eventually left the project. Warner Bros decided to make a movie adaptation based on 1988's Queen Of The Damned instead while combining story concepts from The Vampire Lestat.
Tom Cruise declined to reprise the Lestat role, and Irish actor Stuart Townsend (The Legend Of Extraordinary Gentleman) inherited the part. Queen Of The Damned's story involves Lestat awakening from a long sleep by rock music, but instead of complaining about the noise, he decides to join the group as the new lead singer. Lestat exposes the existence of vampires to the world, which angers the other bloodsuckers who want to stay hidden and his music awakens Queen Akasha, the very first vampire.
Aaliyah played Akasha, which was her second movie role following Romeo Must Die with Jet Li (The Expendables). In terms of quality, Queen Of The Damned is a marked step down from Interview With The Vampire. It's filled with wooden action, lousy CGI effects and it's hard to really care about any of the characters - be they vampire or human. That said, Aaliyah easily steals the show as Akasha. It's a small role in terms of screentime, but she's a magnetic screen presence and exudes the power of Anne Rice's creation. Plus she's clearly having a blast playing the villain.
Stuart Townsend also did a fine job with Lestat, and the scenes between him and Aaliyah are the most engaging of the sequel. Lestat falls under her sway in Queen Of The Damned's third act, and she seeks to make him her king so they can rule over humanity together. This ultimately leads to her downfall, however, when he chooses his human lover instead. Tragically, Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash shortly after finishing production, and her brother Rashad Haughton was brought in to help finish ADR recording for Akasha. Even though the film doesn't work, it's almost worth watching for Aaliyah's performance alone.