When Tom Cruise sped off at the end of "Interview With the Vampire" in 1994, it's safe to say not too many people were holding their breath for a sequel.
Even though Anne Rice had written follow-ups to her best seller, Neil Jordan's stylish but empty affair had seemingly stifled any franchise ambitions.
Eight years on, however, "Queen of the Damned" has arrived. Stuart Townsend now stars as the vampire Lestat, who has stopped mulling over the pain of immortality and become a rock star. This delights Akasha (Aaliyah), queen of all vampires, who intends to use Lestat's musical stylings to enslave the world.
R&B star Aaliyah, who died during post-production, is actually pretty good. And Townsend copes well with the unforgiving task of filling in for The Cruiser.
It's just a pity that two serviceable leads have been squandered on such a vapid motion picture.
A hypnotically bad film, "Queen of the Damned" sums up all that's wrong with contemporary cinema: unsubtle to the point of obviousness, it reeks of MTV and relies on volume to get its point across.
It's a measure of the film's limitation that the most impressive thing about it is the way the studio completed the film following Aaliyah's death. With Aaliyah's post-production voice work outstanding, the producers got her brother to record dialogue into a Vocorder and then synthesised it to match his sister's voice.
If other aspects of the film were as ingenious, we may yet be talking about further instalments of The Vampire Chronicles. As it is, "Queen of the Damned" serves as the nail in the series' coffin.