A vampire's life is neverending lonely subterfuge. Driven by a need for love, Lestat leaves his coffin and becomes a rock star, belting out vampire secrets, enraging his kin and awakening the banished Queen Akasha in the process.
Fictional vampires usually get treated in one of two ways: with Gothic, hushed respect (Bram Stoker's 'Dracula') or schlocky, self-aware ribbing (anything starring Bela Lugosi).
Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles - on which 'Queen Of The Damned' is based - fall into the former faction, as did Neil Jordan's adaptation of the first in the series, 'Interview With The Vampire', a film that made vampirism seem gloriously sexy and well worth the pain.
Not so, 'Queen Of The Damned'. Michael Ryman seems to have no interest in the androgynous beauty of Anne Rice's undead, for his Queen is little more than an overdone FX-fest with nothing of the intelligence or plot of Interview.
The storyline - a dense, rich history in Rice's books - becomes a tangled charade, as a paranormal librarian discovers a vampire aunt, an ancient Egyptian queen comes back to life, and everything gets confused in a cacophony of voiceover and mediocre Goth metal.
Despite the title, the story is really that of the vampire Lestat, whose desire to shake off this immortal coil has made him brazen and foolhardy, willing to risk anything for company.
And despite the B-Movie European accent, Townsend puts in a credible performance as the thinking man's vampire ù-even if he does seem uncomfortable in the role.
Similarly embarrassed is Vincent Perez, who puts in a half-hearted show as Lestat's maker. Even the presence of a writhing, commanding Aaliyah whose death makes her onscreen demise eerie and less than tasteful, fails to eroticise or legitimise a film that rarely supersedes those of Channel 5's late night fillers.
Wishy-washy and hampered by cliche, sitting through this is like enduring a vampire life: it's one long wait for the end.