Hardcore Goth, vampires and about 30 minutes of screen time with Aaliyah – “Queen of the Damned” is the latest installment in the still-dead horror genre. As of late, horror films have been few and far between, and the recent ones have been nothing more than pus-baths. (Did you actually think “Jeepers Creepers” was scary?) This story goes as follows:

The vampire Lestat (played by Stuart Townsend) feels like he should actually get up and do something with his life after many years of lying bored in his coffin. As a creature of the night, he goes out to seek others of his kind. More vampires you ask? No, of course not, he enlists a group of Goth rockers and capitalizes on the fact that he is one of the undead, and so vainly names the band after himself. With his quickly rising international success, Lestat announces a massive concert in none other than Death Valley. He publicly emerges from his coffin and declares that he is a vamp, challenging any other fang-tooth that disagrees with his openness (part of the vampire credo is to live a life of secrecy). When Queen Akasha (Aaliyah), the mother of all vampires, catches wind of this, she resurrects from her statue form and seeks out Lestat, wanting to make him her consort, so that together they can rule the world.

Meanwhile, the Talamasca, a centuries-old secret organization that keeps tabs on vampire activity, discovers Lestat’s ancient journal, in which the vampire divulges his creation and his first encounter with Queen Akasha. To protect the world, the Talamasca must find Lestat before the Queen.

Recent horror offerings have been short in the chills and thrills department. “Queen of the Damned” (directed by Michael Rymer) offers a strong storyline and some decent special effects. Tom Cruise as the original Lestat had the part down to an art form. Townsend makes an adequate replacement, and takes the role with the look of Bush’s Gavin Rossdale and the sound of hard rock’s Korn. Aaliyah’s performance is (with all due respect) average. This movie represents only her second “big” cinematic role, having previously appeared in “Romeo Must Die.” Her tragic death makes it difficult to judge what real potential she had to cross from pop diva to screen siren.

“Queen of the Damned” is the second novel-turned-film from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series. I would imagine that trying to make sense of one of her books would be like trying to make sense of an 8 a.m. lecture. Fortunately, the soundtrack saves the semi-solid plot with the many Goth and hard rock songs featured – Marilyn Manson, Korn’s Jonathan Davis, Deftones and Static-X all contribute to the sounds. The performances in “Queen of the Damned” may keep you interested for the most part, if not, then pay some respect to Aaliyah and stay for the rest of the film.