Warning - this is one long review!
In fact, I've had to space it over a couple of posts to fit it all in! Obviously, it contains a whole lot of spoilers, so get ready for a very detailed insight into the DVD. I would have posted my review on a separate web page for easier navigation, but the wonderful Debs is currently on holiday in Florida, and I just couldn't wait two weeks to get my review online! For my review of the movie itself, go to the Miscellaneous Goodies seciton of this site, click on the London PotD Gathering banner and scroll to the bottom of the screen to find the link! Please note - A detailed review of the feature-length commentary will be posted here in two to three weeks. It will include a full transcript, plus my observations and opinions on what was said. I will make an announcement right here in the 'Your Reviews' section of the forum when this further review comes online! Queen of the Damned DVD - Special Features Review It was only recently that I discovered the exhilarating world of DVD's. Not only is the picture and sound quality far superior to VHS, DVD's also include a variety of special features that provide further information about the film. I loved the idea of extra footage etc, so it was very much the promise of special extras that propelled me to buy my first DVD player. Through my own research, I quickly learned that Region 1 DVD's usually have the most complete set of extras, and so this is the Region that I chose to adopt. Much to my delight, The Queen of the Damned DVD is packed with special features. There is probably about 2 hours worth of extras, and this does not include the commentary that runs for the entire length of the movie! Debs has already posted here on her site a very thorough DVD review that includes screenshots of the DVD menu design and general layout, and so I have decided to post my review without pictures and concentrate on my personal opinions right here on the forum! For the purposes of this review, I will outline each of the special extras in the order they appear on the Region 1 DVD. If you are familiar with the DVD content, you will be able to easily recognise what features I'm referring to. If you have not yet seen the contents of the DVD, my review will hopefully provide an interesting insight into what to expect. CAST AND CREW This is a simple list featuring the principal 6 actors and actresses in the film, along with their character names. These are Stuart Townsend as Lestat de Lioncourt, Aaliyah as Queen Akasha, Lena Olin as Maharet, Vincent Perez as Marius, Marguerite Moreau as Jesse Reeves and Paul McGann as David Talbot. It also has novel, screenplay, producer and director credits. Unfortunately, none of the names are connected to biographical pages. Personally, I would like to have seen further pages with a picture and a brief summary of each person, but this information may not have been included because of the limited space left on the disk, and the other extras more than make up for the lack of information in this section. COMMENTARY BY MICHAEL RYMER, PRODUCER JORGE SARALEGUI AND COMPOSER RICHARD GIBBS Transcript and review coming soon! THE UNSEEN This section features 13 deleted scenes from the film and provides a total of 32 extra minutes of footage. I usually find that deleted scenes are deleted from a movie with good reason, as they often contain unnecessary information that would have only added confusion and even boredom to the overall story. Indeed, in this film, there were some quite awful scenes that were suitably removed or trimmed. However, I did find that there was some cut scenes in Queen of the Damned that I would have preferred to have seen left in the movie rather than being omitted altogether. At such a modest running time of 101 minutes, I do think a few more minutes of dialogue would have only enhanced the story rather than distracted us from where it was trying to take us, but I move ahead of myself... For each of the 13 scenes, I have written the number and title, followed by the opening quote as depicted by the filmmakers and my own scene description. I then move on to my own personal observations. 1. Original Opening with Timelapse Filmmaker's summary - "The idea of this opening scene was to show the passing decades in which Lestat slept. However, the production team was not pleased with the preliminary visuals created for the scene, and ultimately decided to skip the scene altogether." Scene description - The camera follows Lestat as he walks through a cemetery wearing a long black cape, a violin in one hand and a bow in the other. We hear an alternate version of his voice-over as he moves towards a crypt and prepares to let the years pass by in the hope that 'a kind of death might happen'. The voice-over is much longer and more descriptive than what ended up in the final version of the film. We watch him enter the crypt and the camera focuses on his coffin. We then observe the years passing by in a rapid time lapse sequence - we see the sun moving across the sky in an instant, snails speeding over pot plants and a tree growing in a matter of seconds. Lestat explains why he decided to finally awake, and we cut to the first beats of 'Forsaken' as featured in what would become the band sequence and title credits. This scene just didn't work for me. It was intended to be an alternate opening sequence to the statues, but I am very glad they decided to omit this original idea. The visuals are not convincing enough and looked rather jerky, even rushed. I did not like the black and white time lapse effects, nor the flashing of the sun as the days passed quickly. Indeed, I couldn't help but wonder if such a harsh flashing effect would have somewhat of a negative impact on people's eyes, especially on a giant cinema screen! Even on my laptop, I found myself flinching as the lighting flashed rapidly onscreen. But as for the effects themselves, I feel that if I had not read the film makers comments beforehand and watched this as the opening scene of the movie, I probably would have been a bit confused as to what this sequence was actually trying to achieve! Since I did realise that the scene was supposed to show a time lapse through the years, I found that these effects immediately made me think of the recent adaptation of 'The Time Machine'. In this movie, similar time lapse visuals were used to depict Guy Pearce's character travelling rapidly forward through time. I actually liked the way these visuals worked in this particular film, but in thais opening sequence of Queen of the Damned, they were nowhere near as effective. Finally, I felt this alternate opening scene distracted the audience's attention from the score. I personally love the opening sequence of the film where the camera lingers on the statues of Akasha and Enkil, and I particularly love the haunting music that accompanies these images. For Lestat's voice-over to begin just seconds into the film, the score is overshadowed by his words and the mood that the music sets for the remainder of the film is never achieved. 2. Original Jesse Dream Sequence and Meeting Roommate on the Street Filmmaker's summary - "Jesse's encounter with the vampire was cut due to the fact that it raised too many questions as to whether Jesse herself was a vampire. The roommate scene, featuring Pia Miranda, came right after she watched Lestat on MTV." Scene description - An extended version of the Jesse dream sequence we see in the final cut of the film. We watch the beginning of the scene in the same way and see the young Jesse walk from her room along the hallway into a large room. She walks around and observes the faces of the vampires around her. We see that there are dozens of vampires in the room, and they all stare down at her with a sense of wicked fascination. A male vampire beckons to her and she goes to sit on his knee. He tells her that when she's grown up, she can be with them forever. Maharet calls her name, picks her up and carries her from the room explaining this isn't the place for her. Jesse arrives back at her flat during the day and runs into her roommate at the gate. The roommate asks if she wants to go with her to the pub, but Jesse says she has too much work to do and the roommate goes without her. I always liked the idea of Jesse's dream sequence and was rather disappointed by the abruptness of it in the final film. In this longer dream sequence, I do like the way Jesse is shown walking through a room full of vampires as she peers at them with childlike innocence. And I like the way Maharet takes her away explaining this isn't the place for her, as all this happens in a similar way in the book. However, what I don't like about this cut scene is the vampires themselves. They all look a bit too modern. Yet they are still quite eerie - especially the vampire that calls Jesse to him. I didn't like this vampire at all! He looked so bizarrely creepy that I could only laugh uncertainly rather than be entranced by his presence. This concept might have worked with a more seductive vampire but, to me, this vampire was just plain freaky! The roommate scene is exactly what the filmmakers said it was - expendable. The acting from Pia Miranda is terrible. She comes across as a total bimbo and the way she skips along the street after she's said her lines is laughable! But aside from this, the scene really is quite pointless. I'm guessing it was supposed to show that Jesse did have friends and wasn't a total recluse - she just chose not to socialise as she was too wrapped up in the world of vampires to fit in with her peers. I believe the audience could easily figure all this out without such a scene, and so I'm glad this scene was totally omitted. 3. Marius Talks with Lestat on Beach Filmmakers summary - "This scene was trimmed to improve pacing." Scene description - An extension of the beach scene. Marius and Lestat walk along the beach where the gypsy's are dancing around campfires and playing their music. Marius talks to Lestat about vampirism and what it is that keeps him going throughout eternity - to see what humans are going to do next. I really like this scene and would have preferred to have seen it remain in the film. I'm guessing that this scene follows the sequence where Lestat makes his first kill on the beach and seems to be part of an extended version of the conversation that he and Lestat have on the beach before meeting the doomed gypsy girl. This cut scene is brief yet gives us more of an insight into the character of Marius. The very end of this scene could have been cut down a bit to reduce the time we see the gypsy's dancing, but I feel that the extended dialogue should definitely have been left in. 4. Jesse Goes to Admiral's Arms #1 Filmmaker's summary - "The filmmakers shot a scene where Jesse visits the Admiral's Arms prior to her Talamasca presentation, but cut it for pacing purposes." Scene description - Jesse exits the Liverpool Street Tube station in London and walks down a street on her way to the Admiral's Arms vampire club. She enters a dark alleyway passing drunks and prostitutes before hiding behind a wall to watch some vampires enter the club. Jesse watches as a dark haired vampire turns her head to reveal a 'cats eyes' effect and hides back behind the wall. However, Jesse can't help but look at the doors again with even more fascination than before... I am very glad that they did not decide to use this footage in the film. I do not see any reason why Jesse needs to be shown visiting the Admiral's Arms on two occasions. To have her visit the club in this scene seems pointless, as she is later shown doing exactly the same thing before entering the club on another night. To have Jesse peering at the doors from afar one this earlier occasion would have removed the element of surprise from the second vampire club sequence. I also believe that trying so hard to show the 'seediness' of London was not at all necessary. I feel the drunks and prostitutes had no place in this film, and including this type of thing seemed rather contrived. The other thing that annoyed me about this sequence is the fact that Jesse says "Excuse me" as she passes two men standing on the street, as they weren't even in her way! Finally, the footage of the vampire with the cat's eye effect is a memorable part of the vampire club sequence, and I'm glad this piece of footage was relocated to the sequence that made it into the final film where Jesse actually enters the club. 5. Band Plays in Admiral's Arms Filmmakers summary - "The instrumentalists are a who's who of Australian alternative rock. Aimee Nash is a rising young actress and singer. Robin Casinader composed the music. Although the filmmakers loved every second of the footage, they knew they couldn't show much of it in the movie, again because of pacing and timing." Scene description - The vampire bar band (who are playing when Jesse enters the club) are shown here performing their song in full. The scene contains close-up shots of the four performers and their instruments, with particular focus on the female vocalist, Aimee Nash. A pointless scene. The band was obviously included in the film to be featured in the background as Jesse entered the vampire bar, so giving screen time to their complete performance would not have been an plausible option. The scene is clearly full of anguish and it is a haunting tune, but I did prefer the choice of Tricky's 'Excess' as background music for Jesse entering the club. In this cut scene, the male band members look quite menacing, with the guitar player in particular looking rather freaky! I do like the look of the lead female singer, although I don't like her revealing outfit as it draws far too much obvious attention to a couple of certain assets. This said, with a change of clothes and a bit of pink hair, I think Aimee could have made a much better Maudy than Megan Dorman... 6. Groupies with Garlic Ending Filmmaker's summary - "This scene was cut because the garlic joke was thought to be tonally off." Scene description - This is the exact same scene that is featured in the film where Roger Smythe (Lestat's manager) introduces the two blonde groupie girls to Lestat and asks if he should "take them home later". The scene is extended to depict Lestat sniffing the air and approaching Roger to find garlic in his suit pocket! I too thought the garlic joke was 'tonally off'. I remember reading in the early version of the script that Roger carries garlic and it did sound amusing on paper. However, it turned out there was no real need for it in this particular scene, as a comical element had already been added just seconds before when Roger asks if he should take the girls home later. Roger is also surprised by Lestat's sudden presence next to him at the fireplace at the beginning of the scene. Therefore, I think this groupie sequence already shows that Roger is unnerved by Lestat's presence, and so the garlic joke was not necessary. 7. Jesse on Plane, Lestat in L.A. Mansion, Jesse Dreams of Akasha, Band Watching Videos Filmmaker's summary - "The filmmakers dropped the scene of Jesse's flight to Los Angeles because they weren't satisfied with the shock dream, featuring Akasha's attack on Jesse. Unfortunately, the band died the death of a thousand cuts. Trimmed in other scenes due to timing, the filmmakers decided it didn't seem necessary to dwell on them here." Scene description - We see a plane take off from the runway and the camera focuses on Jesse inside the cabin. An old man smiles at her as she takes Lestat's journal out of her bag. She puts 'Redeemer' on her personal stereo and begins to read. Cut to Lestat in his mansion. We see him put 'Redeemer' on his stereo and then walk across the room and lean against his coffin in a rather forlorn way. We then switch back to the plane where Jesse and the other passengers are now asleep. A figure walks along the aisle towards Jesse... it's Akasha. She leans forward, fangs bared. We see a close up of Akasha's teeth sinking into Jesse's skin, and Jesse's terrified eyes as she suddenly awakes. We then watch her look up at the air stewardess asking her to fasten her seatbelt for arrival - it was just a dream. Finally, we are taken to Lestat's mansion and into a room where the band members are watching the end of the 'Redeemer' music video on TV. I have to disagree with the filmmakers here because I really like the Akasha dream sequence! I remember reading this scene in my unofficial script and hoped it would make it into the final film. Therefore, I was happy to see that this scene was filmed, despite the fact it was left on the cutting room floor. Personally, I would prefer to have seen it left in the movie, as I really like the way it's set up. The old man staring at Jesse at the beginning could have been left out, as it's a bit pointless. I feel the scene would have been better opening with the exterior runway shot before cutting straight to Jesse opening the journal. I really like the brooding Lestat scene where he stands beside his coffin looking somewhat fed up with it all, and would definitely have liked to have seen this left in too. I thought the Akasha dream was shocking enough and I thought it was brief but effective enough to be left in the film. In the movie, Jesse is seen at the airport on the phone to David and then not again until she reaches Roger and is taken in his limo to Lestat's mansion. This travelling dream scene would have better established Jesse's journey from England to L.A. as well as demonstrating Akasha's psychic powers and her ability to seek out Jesse's mind and make her presence known to her. On a completely different note, the band scene is absolutely terrible. I was never a fan of the band's acting ability, and I thought their performance in the scene where Lestat introduces himself at the beginning of the film was bad enough. But this short sequence is just laughable! The blonde guitar player mumbles, "Hey, there's me, I'm looking fine!" and the other dark-haired guitar player tells Maudy, "Your hips drive me wild." It's lines like these that make me glad that the band 'died the death of a thousand cuts'! 8. The Ancients Rise Filmmakers summary - "This scene was originally part of Lestat's dish montage. It was cut as part of the overall de-emphasis of the Ancients." Scene description - Lestat's face appears on a giant video screen in L.A. as he says those immortal words, "Come out, come out, wherever you are." We then watch an MTV presenter talk about Lestat and the Goths who are arriving in the city for his concert. The screen switches to the music video for 'Redeemer' and the song begins to play. We then observe Lestat lying on a giant satellite dish listening to his own music. We are then taken on a journey across the ocean to a Paris cemetery where Armand appears behind the grave of Jim Morrison. We then travel across the ocean to see Pandora emerge, and then across the desert to see Khayman rise as 'Redeemer' comes to an end. It seems the filmmakers couldn't quite decide where to feature the song 'Redeemer' in this movie! The song was used three different times throughout filming - once in this cut sequence, once in the above mentioned plane sequence, and once in the scene that made it to the final cut of the film where Jesse watches the music video on her TV. I personally didn't like the use of the song in the actual film, as I always thought it was rather pointless to have Jesse transfixed by the song on the television. I know that it was here that the filmmakers decided to have her listen to the beginning lyrics of the song in order to discover the Admiral's Arms, but I think it would have been better if she just read about the club in Lestat's journal. I think a much better use of 'Redeemer' would have been as an introduction to the Ancients. As much as I love the use of the same song in the plane sequence, I really think it was a most suitable tune to introduce the audience to the Ancients. I fully believe this deleted sequence could have worked. I do think that this film would have been more substantial if the 'nameless' vampires that join with Maharet at the end of the film could have been introduced, even briefly. I remember reading in my unofficial script the idea of the Ancients rising around the globe to the sound of Lestat's music, and I thought it was a great idea. I think this cut sequence carries it off quite well, and I love the emergence of Armand and Pandora. Khayman is a completely different matter. I have no idea why he was made to look so ugly. They didn't intend to explain his history and in the final film he didn't even have any dialogue, so I see no reason why they had to make him look like a walking zombie. Indeed, I feel that the characters of Khayman and Mael could have easily been left out completely, but that's something I'll discuss in the next scene... 9. Ancients at the Hollywood Sign Filmmaker's summary - "The Ancients storyline was reduced during the course of production because the filmmakers felt that there were too many conflicting vampire agendas in the movie. In the final cut of the film, the Ancients are more in the background, and simply serve as allies of Maharet and Marius." Scene description - Marius stands alone at the base of the famous 'Hollywood' sign in the hills of L.A. He is joined by Khayman, Armand and Pandora and soon afterwards Maharet and Mael. Each of the Ancients are introduced and some dialogue between the characters briefly describes their relationships with each other. It is Maharet who explains the reason they have all come together - to try and stop Akasha from destroying humanity. The scene concludes when she asks the others - "Who's with me?" This scene has probably been the most talked about deleted scene among fans! It was available to download on the movie's official site a few months ago, and many fans feel that it should have been left in the final cut of the film. Others feel that the acting is so bad it should definitely have been left on the cutting room floor! However one feels about this scene, one thing is for certain; it is the only scene that ever went into any detail about the past of the Ancients, and it is the only scene which introduces their actual names! My feelings are mixed about this sequence. I like the premise, but I don't like the result! The whole scene feels rather contrived, as if the filmmaker's thought they'd better put in a couple of sentences about each character to please the fans. I do think that this might have confused the general audience a bit and perhaps they were right to leave this particular scene out of the film, but I also feel that a similar conversation among the dialogue between Marius and Pandora. It was detailed enough for the fans, but also ambiguous enough for the general audience to understand there was once something between them. However, the moment was spoiled a bit for me when Pandora ignores Marius's plea for forgiveness and exclaims, "Men." The dialogue that definitely didn't work for me was the brief words exchanged between Maharet and Khayman. It didn't make much sense to have Maharet asking if he is 'shy' and Khayman saying he thought she was 'gone'. The fans will know what this brief dialogue refers to, but the general audience will probably be left wondering what history this ugly creature could possibly have with Maharet. I also didn't like Khayman's lines, but that's probably because I just didn't like the way he appeared in this film... As I mentioned earlier, I see no reason why they had to make Khayman look so ugly, as there is no mention of his past or what he's been through in this movie. And none of the other vampires in the movie are this weird looking! I also found that his appearance distracted people from taking his character seriously, and so I strongly feel that this Ancient should have either been played differently or removed altogether. The same can be said for Mael, as even in this Hollywood scene he only has one line. I know from the DVD commentary that Michael Rymer wanted to kill off a couple of characters in the end sequence in order to show the strength of Akasha's power, so I guess Mael could have been kept around for this. But something definitely should have been done about Khayman. This said, I do like most of Maharet's dialogue in this cut sequence and I do think a brief scene like this where the Ancients we saw rise to the sound of 'Redeemer' come together to listen to Maharet's plan would have worked well. Just two scenes would have been enough to add the necessary depth to these characters, rather than having them just 'appear' at the concert and then attack Akasha in such a relentless manner with only the slightest explanation at the end of the film. 10. Akasha Dances Filmmaker's summary - Despite the fact that the filmmakers loved every second of Akasha's original dance as well as her closing words to Lestat, this scene was rimmed to heighten tension. Scene description - An extension of Akasha's 'belly dance' in the Admiral's Arms. This was her opening sequence where she enters the vampire club to the sound of 'System'. This cut scene begins when Akasha is standing at the bar and says, "Really, is that what you're going to do?" She then moves past the male vampire to the dance floor and her seductive dancing is extended. The male vampire follows, his heart is ripped out and the rest of the scene is pretty much the same as was featured in the final cut of the film. The one major difference is that when Akasha exits the club, she continues to walk down the alley and calls, "Lestat, come out come out wherever you are." The introduction of Akasha was one of my favourite sequences in the movie. I was mesmerised by Aaliyah's performance and the sound of 'System' in the background heightens the pure exhilaration of watching this scene. I thought it was very well done and, after watching the extended version of this scene, I absolutely agree with the filmmaker's decision to cut down Akasha's original dance in order to heighten the tension. Aaliyah's improvised dancing is brilliant, but to have the camera focus on her for this long would have distracted audiences from the purpose of the scene and might have lessened some of the shock value when she attacks the vampires. I also prefer the way the song 'System' was used in the final cut of the scene rather than this version. When Akasha exits the club in this extended scene, we can still hear the chorus vocals of the song over the instrumental crescendo. I much prefer the approach taken in the final cut of the scene where, as soon as Akasha walks through the fire, the vocals stop and the instruments take over to allow us to better concentrate on Akasha's victorious walk and the fabulous way she licks her lips with glee. And it is also precisely for this reason that I am glad that they removed her one line of dialogue in this sequence. 11. L.A. Mansion, Jesse Talks with Lestat, Extended Flying Sequence Filmmaker's summary - "The filmmakers felt the dialogue between Jesse and Lestat was unnecessarily long, and tightened it considerably. However, they regret trimming the flying sequence, as it establishes a suitably romantic mood." Scene description - This is an extended version of when Jesse visits Lestat's mansion and returns his journal. In the final cut of the film, the dialogue between them stops when Jesse asks Lestat to spend what may be his last night on earth with her and then skips to the beginning of the flying sequence. In this extended scene, Jesse and Lestat talk more and Jesse tells Lestat about her dream of being in a house filled with vampires. She explains that she doesn't want some dream to be more real than her life. Lestat seems to understand, even feel sympathetic, and it is at this point that the flying sequence begins. The flying sequence is then extended to include more aerial shots of Jesse and Lestat flying through the air. I really think this dialogue should definitely have been left in the film. One of my major problems with the movie itself was that I felt there was not enough of a connection between Jesse and Lestat to justify him choosing her over Akasha. There is very limited dialogue between the two and Jesse basically comes across as a confused young woman pining over Lestat. Just a couple more scenes with extended dialogue like this would have given more depth to Jesse's character and better explained her real reasons for wanting to be with Lestat. In this extended version of the scene, Jesse explains that she feels her life is a mystery and that he is the answer. She tells him about the dream she's been having where she's in a house full of vampires and that she doesn't want some dream to be more real than her life. Lestat understands what she is trying to say, and we could even imagine him reading her mind at this point to see for himself. Jesse wants to become a vampire not because she's some groupie, but she feels there's a real connection between them. Lestat doesn't want to be alone and seems to relate to her sorrow and despair. The final cut of the film does imply his, but I do think that leaving this extra bit of dialogue in the film would have made the audience believe in their budding romance that little bit more. On the contrary, I do not think the extended flying sequence should have been included in the film, and so I'm glad it was cut down. I didn't really liked the 'look' of the flying effects here, although I do think the music helps in creating the right atmosphere. In this extended scene, there is a great little snippet where the city lights are reflected in the eye of Jesse. The camera then circles to reveal the dome of the Griffith Park Observatory in order to highlight her point-of-view. I thought this type of effect was very effective! I would have preferred to see this snippet included rather than different angles of Lestat and Jesse flying through the air, as depicted in this cut scene. 12. Jesse Writes her Aunt and Goes to the Concert Filmmakers summary - "Originally, Jesse was abducted at Griffith Park, and taken to Maharet. After their conversation, Jesse wrote this farewell note, and went to the concert. The Maharet scene now plays after the concert." Scene description - Jesse is shown in Maharet's house writing her a farewell note that explains she has found her answers and now she must leave her. She leaves the note for Maharet to find, and then exits the compound into the daytime desert with the intention of going to the concert. She tries to hitch a ride with a ute, but has better luck with a comby van full of Lestat groupies who gladly take her onboard. This deleted scene is rather unusual for people familiar with the film in that Jesse is shown getting ready to leave Maharet's house. In the final cut of the film, the only times we see Jesse in this house is as a child in her 'dream', and after the concert when the Ancients band together to destroy Akasha. From the filmmakers' comments, it seems that the scene near the end of the film where Maharet tells Jesse about the great family was actually set to appear before the concert. And I'm assuming that Jesse is abducted by Mael in Griffith Park when Lestat leaves her there in the middle of the night after observing her shocked reaction when he feeds from the woman on the park bench. If this alternative plotline was taken, it would have made more sense that Mael is the one who finds Jesse at the concert and, when she looks at him, it seems they have met before as she is accepting of his presence. It was probably for the best that Jesse arrives at Maharet's house near the end of the film rather than before the concert. It leaves the 'question' of her mysterious past open until the end, and also sets the scene for the Ancients banding together before facing off with Lestat and Akasha. Although I still would have preferred to have seen a bit more dialogue between Maharet and Jesse to span out their reunion just a bit longer. As for Jesse hitching her way to the concert - this definitely deserved to be omitted from the film. The scene where she runs frantically towards a passing ute is absolutely pointless and made me laugh. And the scene where she hitches a ride with the Lestat groupies in a comby van is plain embarrassing for Lestat fans, as despite what this movie depicts, we're not all stereotypical Goths! 13. Band Backstage at Concert, Jesse Walks Through Crowd, Ancients Watch Filmmakers summary - "All of this was tightened to increase the tension leading up to the concert." Scene description - This scene takes the audience behind-the-scenes before the concert. We see the band members practising their instruments and sitting around backstage. They talk amongst themselves and with other backstage groupies as everyone tries to prepare for the show ahead. We are then taken to members of the crowd outside as some bizarre looking fans dance around bonfires to the sound of an instrumental version of 'Not Meant For Me'. We watch as Jesse walks amongst them, and we then see the Ancients standing and observing the crowd. Khayman tells the others that Akasha will not be able to resist the concert. A pointless sequence that deserved to be cut. The backstage scene was of no use and only served to further highlight the band's poor acting ability. The Goths dancing around fires in the desert was equally as pointless. There is no need to focus on their bizarre behaviour of some members here, as we get much better shots of the massive crowd when Lestat actually comes out onstage. There is also no need to show Jesse walking around, as we see her making her way through the crowd when Lestat starts to sing 'Slept So Long'. Fortunately, the Ancients standing observing the crowd did make it into the final cut of the film, as this shot deserved to stay to establish their presence. However, I also think it's fortunate that they cut the two lines of dialogue, as these were quite pointless. The one highlight of this deleted sequence is that we get to see Richard Gibbs's cameo! He is shown sitting backstage listening to the blonde-haired female keyboard player talk about performing onstage - to bad he wasn't featured in a more deserving scene! VAMPIRE ANNALS This section contains three documentaries about the film. They are as follows: 1. Creating the Vampires An insightful look into the making of the film. This documentary runs for just under 10 minutes and consists of several sections. Each section has the filmmakers and actors explaining how visuals were created, mingled with footage from the film that demonstrates these images. Flying Stuart, Michael and Jorge all take turns in explaining how they achieved the vampire flying effect using harnesses and wires. We see some great 'rehearsal' shots of actual maneouveneres that were used in the film, and Stuart gives much praise to the stunt men for how precise the flying actually turned out onscreen. Effects Make-Up We see how they achieved the marks on Akasha's bite wounds in the final scene where the Ancients attack. Aaliyah explains it took one and half hours to place all the bite marks on her body. We see the make-up team in action applying the bites and explaining how they make them to achieve the desired effect. We even get to see them apply the blood! Digital effects Greg McMurray, the visual effects supervisor, explains how they made the vampires catch on fire in the vampire bar sequence. We see the computer graphics and techniques that were used to disintegrate the vampires. I was interested to learn that this always began with the boiling of the blood, as it's the blood that connects them to Akasha. Michael and Greg also explain the vampire 'speed' element of the film. Personally, I didn't really like the end result with the 'trail' effect that was used to show the vampires moving quickly. Greg says they went through many different processes trying to get the right effect, and we see some of these. I actually much preferred the first computer test shot that is shown in this documentary where the stunt man simply zaps across the screen. He reaches the other side of the room in an instant without leaving a 'trail', but we still see him move through the air for a split second, and it's this option that I thought was most effective. Michael and Greg then explain how they achieved the very last scene of the film where Jesse and Lestat walk along a street as everything zaps by at incredible speed. I did like this shot, and so it was interesting to see how, as Michael put it, "these two characters walk off into eternity." But then Greg said that he wanted the effects to look so real that people could walk down the street and think 'Hey, that could be a vampire bar!' Hmmm... 2. Aaliyah Remembered This 3-minute documentary is a tribute to the late Aaliyah. Stuart, Jorge and Michael all leave touching commentaries. They talk about her diversity as an actress, what a wonderful person she was and the potetial she clearly showed in this movie. There is footage of Aaliyah talking about her fascination with vampires and Egypt, and many touching sentiments by her brother, Rashad, who confirms that the release of the film is definitely what Aaliyah would have wanted. It is a rather short tribute, and it would have been nice to hear one of her songs as the background music, but other than this I think it was quite well done. I think Stuart sums it up nicely by saying: "To me she is a very gentle soul, very dignified, very much a lovable, special person." 3. The Music of Lestat Making the Soundtrack "Getting the rock star stuff right was the most important thing." - Michael Rymer Michael explains that he wanted to get the rock songs written for the movie very early in the film's production, and Richard points out that he and Jon were hired before casting had even begun. Michael, Richard and Jon explain the dilemma of deciding what kind of music a modern day vampire rock star would sing. Richard tells us how Michael did not want specific references to the vampires - he didn't want the songs to be too literal. I actually agree with Michael's decision not to use the lyrics from the books, as they were very specific and would probably have been difficult to work with. But I couldn't see any reason why Richard and Jon couldn't be allowed to incorporate the vampires' names into the songs, even briefly. After all, songs such as 'Slept So Long' and 'Not Meant For Me' were supposed to annoy the other vampires by telling secrets about their own kind. But despite all this, I absolutely loved the music in the film and I love what Richard and Jon did with both the soundtrack and score. In this section, we also see Marilyn Manson talking about how Jon wanted him to do the song 'Redeemer'. We then see David Draiman from Disturbed in action singing 'Forsaken' who talks about how much he loves the music and the books [He's read all the Vampire Chronicles!] We then listen to Chester Bennington from Linkin Park singing System, and he too is a big fan of Anne Rice who has read all the Chronicles. Wayne Static of Static X then talks about writing his own song, 'Cold'. Making of the Concert "This concert has to be the concert of all concerts." - Michael Rymer As I was an extra in the concert sequence, this was one of he most exciting parts of the DVD for me! And Michael sums it up in the above quote - this really did have to be an amazing concert. He explains how in the book it was held in an old fashioned theatre, but for this movie they couldn't have fire indoors. He then goes on to tell us that he was inspired by an event that happens every year in the Califormia visit called The Burning Man. The footage shows the extras arriving in the early evening, and shots of the concert crowd screaming the lyrics and shaking their fists in the air. Jorge says it was fun, and that when you walked onstage you felt the power of being on a real stage and you started to almost eel 'that rock star thing'. Stuart then goes on to say that even though the crowd were extras and they're shouting because they've been told action, it didn't matter because they were so incredible. The music was stadium level, and Stu tried not to sing, but he couldn't intriguing world of score composition. We get to see Richard conducting the orchestra and observe the recording of the score in action. Jon sits nearby and observes, as he chose to leave the conducting element to the ro! We then watch interlocking footage of Lestat playing his violin to Akasha, and Lestat singing 'Slept So Long' on the concert stage, probably to show the diversity of the music in this film! *I will soon be adding the third segment - 'Making the Score' - as somehow my text got lost when I copied and pasted my review into this forum! * GOTHIC MELODIES This section features three Lestat music videos - 'Redeemer', 'Forsaken' and 'System' - plus the music video for Static X's soundtrack single, 'Cold'. Lestat actually sings 5 songs in the film. However, videos were not made for the other two Lestat songs, as 'Slept So Long' and 'Not Meant For Me' were both performed in the concert sequence in the film itself. However, both songs are featured in extended concert footage in a separate section of the DVD. The three Lestat music videos were available to download from the official movie site a few months ago, but the quality of Jon's vocals was not as good. Fortunately, he DVD videos feature much better sound and vocals. Each video was filmed with an old-style vampire film in mind, but I can't remember which movies these were! My favourite music video is 'Forsaken', and this is the video they chose to feature in the opening credits of the film. The 'Cold' video was also available to download from the official movie site. As far as I know, this was the only song from the film's soundtrack that was released as a CD single. I would have preferred to see another song take this honour, for as much as I like this tune, I do think there were other songs that were more deserving. In my opinion, the 'Cold' music video isn't as good as the Lestat videos. I don't like the silly pointy-eared vampires and it all kind of reminds me of 'The Lost Boys'. I would have preferred to see just the band singing and clips from the film without the cheesy visuals! EXTENDED CONCERT SEQUENCES This section features extended versions of the two fantastic songs that Lestat sings at the concert - 'Not Meant For Me' and 'Slept So Long'. It was actually 'Slept So Long' that was sung onstage first, but on this DVD menu it's listed in second place. These are two of my favourite clips on the DVD for obvious reasons!!! 1. 'Not Meant For Me' Extended Concert Version A more complete performance of this song, with the camera mostly focussing on Lestat and his band performing onstage. It is not the full song, but we get to see a lot more than we do in the final version of the film where only the opening lyrics of this song are played before the vampires attack. 2. 'Slept So Long' Full Concert Version This song was played repeatedly on the night of the Death Valley Concert shoot, but the crowd never tired of it. We learned the lyrics quickly, and it was this song that kept us in such good spirits all night long! The atmosphere was absolutely amazing. I was in the very centre of the crowd, about 10 rows back from the stage, and right in front of Stu's microphone! 'Not Meant For Me' was also excellent, but it was definitely 'Slept So Long' that was the highlight. It quickly became my favourite of all the Lestat songs, and I'm so glad that we finally get the opportunity to watch the full concert performance on the DVD. I spotted myself in the crowd [again!] and had fun re-living old memories all over again! GAG REEL A hilarious highlight of the DVD! This is a fantastic clip featuring various bloopers from the film. Debs has already described each of these in detail in her review, but examples include Lestat dancing with his violin, Aaliyah messing up her lines, Ancients getting tangled in their flying harnesses, and some great facials from Marius!!! The music is big-band style and reminds me of a cheesy piece they'd use at the Academy Awards. However, the music has definitely grown on me and it cracks me up every time! The Gag Reel is definitely a must-see!!! PRODUCTION BOOK STILLS GALLERY These were interesting, but a bit long to watch, as you couldn't skip through them easily and you had to pause the DVD player to look at an image closer. In this special features, we see numerous production images flash onscreen for a few seconds at a time. We start off with a series of photos taken on set. We see a few of Akasha in costume on the set, and then a black and white photo of Akasha and Stuart in the well-known-but-never-seen 'pool scene'. WE then get to see shots of designs for Akasha, Marius, Maharet and Pandora's costumes. We then move on to conceptual artwork and see a drawings of set designs for the cemetery, an unusual looking house, Lestat's crypt, Marius's living room, two drawings of the concert stage and massive crowd [excellent!], the shrine for Those Who Must Be Kept beneath the ice, the exterior of one of Lestat's mansions, the famous bath [without rose petals!], Maharet's house in the desert, Maharet's great hall where the final showdown takes place, the exterior of the great hall, Marius's huge abode on the island, the bedroom where Lestat will be tied to the bed, the underground passageway that leads to Those Who Must Be Kept and two more another shrine designs. We move on to Storyboards - Storyboards are drawn rather like comics and demonstrate the desired effect for each camera shot in a movie sequence. The first is called 'Lestat and Jesse Take Flight'. We see a series of black and white drawings that show Lestat taking Jesse up into the air, although the shots seen here are a bit different to what ended up in the final film. The next Storyboard is called 'Akasha Rescues Lestat'. This is a very bizarre sequence where Akasha and Lestat fly through the air, land on a mountain and watch the concert stage from afar. Akasha bites her lip and lets the blood flow down into Lestat's mouth. They both fly into the air still exchanging blood between their lips. Personally, I'm glad this idea was scrapped as I just don't think it would have looked right in this film! ANNE RICE'S VAMPIRE CHRONICLES This section contains seven pages of text briefly outlining the history of The Vampire Chronicles. Each page is accompanied by a stunning image from the film [I do like the menu pictures on this DVD!] This section contains very limited information about Anne and her works, but at least they decided to give the books some accreditation on the DVD. The pages are as follows: The first tells of how the Chronicles began in 1976 and how Anne was inspired to write 'Interview With The Vampire' by the death of her daughter. The second page details the movie version of 'Interview' and how Neil Jordan brought the novel to the silver screen, earning it two Oscar nominations. The third page concerns the second novel, 'The Vampire Lestat', the fourth page 'Queen of the Damned' and 'Tale of the Body Thief', the fifth page 'Memnoch', 'The Vampire Armand' and 'Pandora', the sixth page is devoted to Merrick [!], and the final page describes 'Blood and Gold' and 'Vittorio the Vampire'. THEATRICAL TRAILER The complete US trailer for the Queen of the Damned. This trailer was screened in cinemas across the United States and was also available to download from the movie's official website for a while. I like the trailer, but I do believe that the alternative UK trailer was far better. It's a bit disappointing not to see this second trailer featured on the DVD, but obviously that's what I get when I choose Region 1 DVD's! ENHANCED FEATURES FOR YOUR DVD-ROM PC This final special feature only works on PC's and not Mac's, as stated on the DVD packaging. Unfortunately, even though I do own a PC lap top, I do not have connection to the internet through this computer so I am unable to check out these enhanced features. Apparently, the DVD enables you to access the official Queen of the Damned website in its entirety which means downloads and pictures should all still be available through this special link. There are also links to the latest DVD news from Warner Brothers. If anyone finds any additional features when they link the DVD up to the internet, feel free to let me know!!! THE END
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