Survival of the Dead Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone. Survival of the Dead? More like Dead on Arrival. Heyyyoooooo. What a week. And by what a week I mean I watched five movies for BMT, something I vow to never do again until the Resident Evil BMT Marathon Extravaganza Celebration of the Life and Works of Paul WS Anderson (uh …. REBMTMECotLaWoPWSA). A positive: one of the movies was extraordinary, one was okay, one was meh, and only two were genuinely awful. That’s like batting .400 as far as BMT is concerned, amazing average Romero, even if you are so old you’ve forgotten how to make compelling zombie films. Speaking of which:

  • Romero reminds me of Carpenter in that regard. Prior to The Ward in 2010 Carpenter had a series of poorly received films that lead to his semi-retirement in 2001. Escape from LA (future BMT, guaranteed), Vampires, and Ghosts of Mars (an amazing BMT film). Ghosts of Mars in 2001 literally looks like a film from 1996 and it is painfully clear that Carpenter had just kind of had the horror genre (which seems to evolve rather quickly) pass him by, he was around 53 at the time. Romero was even older, he was around 65 when the second Dead trilogy was being produced after a substantial directing hiatus, and honestly it shows. The fourth film feels like it was made in 1996, the fifth film was a shaky cam horror with Romero hesitantly poking fun at the booming genre, and the sixth is kind of an old school independent project again, like the original film.
  • And that’s why it’s weird. The entire film series is kind of focused around a single message: this slow zombie apocalypse is more about human’s moral failings than the zombies being particularly threatening. And it’s a message that is completely lost in the 00’s (as compared to the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when the first three came out). While smashing us over the head with the morality tale the trilogy just falls flat. Weirdly, the sixth (while being by far the worst movie in the series, so fucking bad), is the only one that feels like Romero. The other two felt like he was emulating other people.
  • But what do I know? I don’t even like zombie movies. These are literally the only ones I’ve ever seen.
  • Since there isn’t much of a BMT:CSI:SVU forensics case to be made (Romero was hired to make a new trilogy, the fourth film made solid money, he made two terrible films that were barely released … not rocket science), I’ll close with this: This was a solid BMT, and highlights what I like about the last 5 years of doing this. I’m not sure I ever see Dawn of the Dead without being made to watch Survival of the Dead. And Dawn of the Dead is fantastic. Maybe the best practical effects I’ve seen in a horror film outside of The Thing. That’s something.

I’ll just close it here. No sequel, prequel, remake because why? There would be no point. Already too many sequels. What would a prequel be about? Life before the zombie apocalypse? And no need to ever remake Dawn of the Dead (again, haven’t watched the existing remakes yet).

Jamie

Alright, well I really liked the first one, looooovvveeeeed (like The Warriors loved. Or The Thing loved) the second one, and thought the third one was kind of silly but still really good. Then the second trilogy was a travesty. The first was too cartoony and weird and then the next two were just blah. Does anyone else see what that mimics? Anyone? That’s the exact progression of the two Star Wars trilogies! The first one is a classic and great for what it is, but the second is the true classic. The third went a bit too far in certain regards but everyone still loves it. Then an the elderly director comes back decades later to make a silly cartoony fourth film and a couple of duds to follow it up. There is my Sklognalysis, thank you. You know what this means, don’t you? This means we are in for a big budget sequel/reboot to the series (like World War Z level) to bring back the fans and get this shit going again. And when that happens I’ll be right there, cause Dawn of the Dead was fucking fantastic.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Survival of the Dead Preview

Alright, moving right along to this week, we are returning to mapl.de.map and our quest for fire (and by fire I mean a completely filled up map). This week is kind of a historic selection. That’s because we are doing one of the hardest states on the entire map. A state that I didn’t even think had a qualified movie for the map when we first started this endeavor. A state that I used to make jokes about in every email and which may or may not be imaginary. That’s right! We are onto Delaware! For those that aren’t in the know about this kind of stuff, me and Patrick were able to find a little film called Survival of the Dead set in Delaware. Hooray! On a worse note it turned out that this film was the sixth (!) in the George A. Romero Dead series. It went from Night of the Living Dead, to Dawn of the Dead, to Day of the Dead, to Land of the Dead, to Diary of the Dead, and finally to Survival of the Dead. So me and Patrick had a bit of homework to do. Boo! Fortunately, the exercise will give us a nice perspective on the movie by the end of it. Let’s go!

Survival of the Dead (2010) – BMeTric: 50.2 (November 13, 2016)

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(Do you know what that is? That is the profile of a movie that almost no one saw in theaters. It is all DVD release, so there aren’t two regimes. Impressive. Also incredibly high BMeTric, very very impressive. That is also one of the largest drops in rating I’ve ever seen. 7.2 to 5.0 doesn’t really make sense. So I guess one die hards initially rated it 10 and it was kind of washed out over time. Commentary generated on November 13, 2016)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – Another Romero visit to an America overrun with cannibalistic walking corpses. This time a small paramilitary group hopes to evade the chaos by going to an island off the Delaware Coast, but conflict between two very Irish patriarchs that control the place over how to treat the numerous reanimated corpses means only more chaos. Less nihilistic than others in the series, with strong characterizations and good cinematography, but it’s really just more of the same. Won’t someone give Romero money to do another kind of movie?

(Love the little shout out to Delaware right there. Not sure what he means by “very Irish patriarch”… why “very”? Also, a little presumptuous that Romero is only making these films cause it’s the only kind he can get money for. He probably likes making them. He’s made six of them after all. Perhaps even if you gave him all the money in the world he would still make a zombie movie. Why not?)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNg3CEkQtnk

(Oh dear, did we make a mistake? This looks like I made the trailer for the film. Yet it was actually released in a handful of theaters and reviewed by 84 critics on RT. Weird shit. Looks rough.)

Director(s) – George A. Romero – (Known For: Dawn of the Dead; The Crazies; Night of the Living Dead; Land of the Dead; Day of the Dead; Diary of the Dead; Creepshow; Monkey Shines: An Experiment In Fear. BMT: Survival of the Dead. Notes: Wow, this is his only film he directed that got bad reviews. That’s pretty amazing.)

Writer(s) – George A. Romero (written by) – (Known For: Dawn of the Dead; The Crazies; Night of the Living Dead; Land of the Dead; Day of the Dead; Diary of the Dead; Creepshow; Monkey Shines: An Experiment In Fear. BMT: Survival of the Dead; Creepshow 2; Tales from the Darkside: The Movie; Notes: He went to Carnegie Mellon and worked on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood for a time, so unsurprisingly many of his films take place in and around Pittsburgh.)

Actors – Alan Van Sprang – (Known For: Land of the Dead; Narc; Diary of the Dead; Steal This Movie; BMT: Survival of the Dead; Immortals; Saw III; Masterminds. Notes: Starring now in the ABC Family show Shadowhunters. The same network that brought us the hit television program The Vineyard? Sign me up!)

Also stars Kenneth Welsh and Kathleen Munroe

Budget/Gross: $4 million / $101,740 ($143,191 Worldwide)

(For some reason I thought this got a wider release than I’m seeing here. Only 20 theaters. Still not the lowest we’ve done. Both Theodore Rex and Devil’s Knot (also on the map!) did not get a theatrical release. Regardless, what are we to do? This is the only bad movie set in Delaware. We can only cross our fingers and hope for a future release to take its place.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 29% (25/84), Critics Consensus: Survival of the Dead offers glimmers of Romero’s savage wit, but not nearly enough to make up for his unusually uninspired directing and a lack of new ideas

(Anyway, look at the number of reviewers. Even has a consensus. We’ll see if this is unusually uninspired after *gulp* watching the whole series this week. Perhaps we’ll conclude that it’s usually uninspired.)

Poster – Survival of the Sklog (B-)

survival_of_the_dead_xlg

(Not a poorly made poster, just a boring one. And a bit dark. But the colors are nicely consistent, the poster is symmetrical, and I like the text spacing. Hits a lot of a good marks.)

Tagline(s) – Survival isn’t just for the living. (C)

(Well this is certainly confusing. I’m not sure what this even means in the context of a zombie movie. Are we going to we seeing a movie from the perspective of the zombies? Are they the characters? That would be cool. If that’s not the case then this tagline definitely isn’t cool.)

Keyword(s) – island; Top Ten by BMeTric: 83.3 The Wicker Man (2006); 79.3 House of the Dead (2003); 78.7 Jaws: The Revenge (1987); 76.5 The Fog (2005); 72.2 I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998); 69.0 Shark Night 3D (2011); 67.5 The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996); 66.6 Scooby-Doo (2002); 65.8 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011); 64.0 DOA: Dead or Alive (2006);

(Wow, that is a great list, and we’ve seen almost none of them officially for BMT! Pretty nice. And island is always a convenient excuse to trap people who should know better in a place they want to get the fuck away from stat. See: Jurassic Park. Good stuff.)

Notes – This film marks the first time that a character from a previous Living Dead film returns to star in a sequel, with Alan Van Sprang as Sarge “Nicotine” Crockett having been seen in Diary of the Dead (2007).

Queen of the Damned Recap

NOTE: This Recap was published on August 11, 2018. The content was as it appeared in the original email from May 2014, although it was edited and reformatted where necessary.

Jamie

Another late one. I’ll try to make this an aberration and not the norm… next week. For now this is late. Deal with it. Last week was Queen of the Damned and wasn’t it a damn good BMT film… you see what I did there? Cause the movie has Damned in the title. Overall though, the film was ridiculous in all the right ways. I’m honestly not sure the film could possibly have been made and released under any other circumstance other than to rescue an expiring property license. A vampire rock and roll star does battle at a giant goth concert against Aaliyah who sets the record for least time on screen for a titular character. Um… really? This is happening? It seems the studio guy in charge of it must have had to say, “You know what? Fuck it, yeah, I’m in on this craziness. Why not? It’s the 90’s.” Cause it was a very 90’s film. Either that or they had to say, “You know what? I do not care what this looks like. We need this train rolling, so let’s get this movie out the door.” Anyway, I’ve talked too much talk, so let me walk the walk by giving you my three favorite things about the film:  

1) The voice-overs! Was the entire film voice-overs? No, not 100%. More like 110%. It was a wonderful example of excessive voice-over in BMT. May as well have been a book-on-tape.

2) Aaliyah! I have a feeling she would have been a favorite of ours with more breadth to her filmography. Just too good. And did I mention that she’s the titular character and doesn’t show up until 45 minutes into the movie and has only 10 lines or so? Just another case where the trailer and poster totally lied to the audience about what the movie would really be about.

3) The set pieces! They were the settiest sets we have set our eyes on in some time. It’s like I was watching a play at some points. I could imagine a stagehand movie the rooms around on wheels.

Phew, well there we go. That’s my three. Let’s see what Patrick thought:

Patrick

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that we made a horrible mistake with this Chain Reaction idea … strike that, we made a horrible mistake with picking Sabotage during week 8 last round. Not only a garbage movie, but its garbage-ness is reverberating throughout BMT for 2 months making it more and more difficult to effectively choose BMT-quality films. I barely know what movie we are doing anymore, and we certainly aren’t linking up with Furry Vengeance next week. With all that being said, we’ve watched a bunch of movies I’ve wanted to watch for BMT and some I never expected to watch (and enjoyed immensely). So weirdly enough things are working out.

Last week was Queen of the Damned. And it was bananas. I haven’t seen Interview with a Vampire, but this was the sequel (well … two sequels mashed into one) and it was crazy. We got rock and roll vampires. Vampire effects. The Blurry super-fast movements and horrid horrid flying effects, very reminiscent of both Twilight and True Blood, I almost want to say this was kind of the origin of it … although I doubt many people watched Queen of the Damned in film school. The costumes were bad, it wasn’t a horror film, and the Queen of the Damned was a cartoon character who was barely in this unfortunately long movie.

I’m making it sound terrible, but it was a delight. I loved this movie from a bad movie perspective. It is like they were checking tropes off. In particular, a dual-voiceover that lasts the entire movie (no joke, I think 50% of this movie had someone talking over it), throw in crazy CGI, terrible dialogue, and an extreme acting tour-de-force by Aaliyah and you have a winner in my book. They got insane set pieces and an audio flashback to boot. I really rather enjoyed it. Big Momma’s House, Romeo Must Die (despite being ridiculously boring) and Queen of the Damned have been a damn fine start to the chain reaction. Let’s see if we can keep it going … although I have no idea how we’re going to solve the Furry Vengeance problem. But I’m going to continue to put that off for a few more weeks. Let’s go.

Conclusion

Lots of valid points. As Patrick pointed out, it’s been a while since we had a film that really hit almost all of the BMT tropes that we love to pick on. This did its job right. Unfortunately the one thing it didn’t have was a MonoSklog. So we can’t really do that one this week.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Queen of the Damned Preview

NOTE: This preview was generated on August 11, 2018. Much of the content was generated in May of 2014, but it has been edited and updated where appropriate.

The reason this preview was generate so long after the initial watch was because it came at special request from someone planning on watching this film for a Halloween double feature. The post introducing the double feature can be seen here. Cheers!

Queen of the Damned was followed by a direct-to-DVD sequel Vampires in Delaware where a family of vampires have a surprisingly fun and educational vacation in the great state of Delaware. They have loads of fun learning about DuPont Co’s origins as a manufacturer of gunpowder and the fact that they are vampires plays no role in the plot of the film. At least … I wish that was what happened. Let’s go!

Queen of the Damned (2002) – BMeTric: 55.0

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QueenoftheDamned_RV

(I find the rating shockingly low to be honest, and the dip between 2004 and 2007 is very strange indeed. Possibly because the people who would have been fans at the time took a while to get online? It is truly perplexing, a very odd rating/vote plot.)

Leonard Maltin –  2.5 starsVampire Lestat awakens after a long deep sleep and goes public in the world of rock music, where he seem to blend in perfectly! But his posturing angers the man who “made” him, intrigues a young woman who’s drawn to his world, and lines him up as the perfect mate for the queen of the undead (played by pop-music star Aaliyah, who died before the film’s release). Dopey but amusing. Based on one of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles novels.

(Wow, I’m not sure how something that’s dopey but amusing gets 2.5 stars when it’s supposed to be a supernatural horror-type film. Would seem to be an insult. That’s all I really have to say about this… so I’ll just make a quick remark about Leonard’s choice to use two descriptors for Lestat’s sleep. It was both long and deep? Glad I knew that before watching the film.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gu9HtN05sc

(Well this is interesting for sure. I love Aaliyah’s “accent” and the effects look like trash. Both of these are exciting prospects from a BMT point of view. Still not totally sure what the plot is. Evil vampire rocker? Is that basically it? Sounds absurd.)

Directors – Michael Rymer – (Known For: Face to Face; Angel Baby; Future BMT: Perfume; In Too Deep; BMT: Queen of the Damned; Notes: After completing film school at USC he attended a two-year acting school where he claims he learned more about filmmaking than in all his years studying at film schools.)

Writers – Anne Rice (novels) – (Known For: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles; The Young Messiah; Future BMT: Exit to Eden; BMT: Queen of the Damned; Notes: Rice distanced herself from the film, and has stated that she feels the filmmakers “mutilated” her work in adapting the novel.)

Scott Abbott (screenplay) – (BMT: Queen of the Damned; Notes: Seemingly was a big-time TV Movie writer. Got his break to write this and then hasn’t really had any film credits since. He did, however, release a novel two years ago and wrote the Rosemary’s Baby TV miniseries adaption that airs tonight… seriously, it airs Sunday, May 11th, 2014.)

Michael Petroni (screenplay) – (Known For: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Book Thief; The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys; Future BMT: The Rite; Backtrack; BMT: Queen of the Damned; Notes: Started out as a comedian in Australia appearing on the show DAAS Kapital before moving to the United States to study screenwriting.)

Actors – Aaliyah – (BMT: Queen of the Damned; Romeo Must Die; Notes: This movie was released posthumously. She had also been cast and started filming for a major role in the two Matrix sequels. She was subsequently replaced by Nona Gaye and all her scenes that she had completed were reshot.)

Stuart Townsend – (Known For: Shade; Shooting Fish; Under the Skin; About Adam; Wonderland; Simon Magus; Future BMT: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Trapped; Chaos Theory; Head in the Clouds; BMT: Queen of the Damned; Æon Flux; Notes: Was originally cast as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but was replaced after a few days of shooting after realizing that he looked too young for the role.)

Marguerite Moreau – (Known For: Mighty Joe; Runaway Jury; Beverly Hills Chihuahua; Wag the Dog; Easy; Caroline and Jackie; Easier with Practice; Douchebag; Future BMT: Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home; D3: The Mighty Ducks; L!fe Happens; D2: The Mighty Ducks; The Mighty Ducks; Wet Hot American Summer; BMT: Queen of the Damned; Notes: Transitioned into television mostly after being a younger actor in The Mighty Ducks franchise. Now has been on both Wet Hot American Summer series for Netflix.)

Budget/Gross – $35 million / Domestic: $30,336,800 (Worldwide: $45,479,110)

(Not the worst that is could have been, but by no means a winner. Especially when compared to Interview with a Vampire, which made over $200 million. I guess everyone’s hope that Stuart Townsend would be the next Tom Cruise would have to be tempered after this showing.)

#144 for the Horror – R-Rated genre

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(Right near Ghost Ship with the Most Ship! The lowest BMT (as of August 2018) is Alone in the Dark, and the highest is (sadly) I Know What You Did Last Summer. I find the dip a few years ago supremely weird. Everyone hates PG-13 horror, so I don’t really get it. The people who love horror films are 14-year-olds and they obvs want that R-rating that they can finally get into. Give it to them!)

#28 for the Vampire genre

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(The only Vampire movie we’ve ever seen for BMT (and this was written in August of 2018, although mere weeks before we will have watched Vampire Academy, which is #44, thoroughly trounced by even this). Twilight is obviously the highlight here. These things really did just boom with Twilight and then *poof* … disappeared like a vampire in the daytime (in some interpretations of vampires).)

Rotten Tomatoes – 17% (22/130): A muddled and campy MTV-styled vampire movie with lots of eye candy and bad accents.

(MTV-styled vampires? Doesn’t it tell you how times have changed that just 6 short years later Twilight came out and no one even thought to call them MTV-styled. Also, I can only assume the “bad accent” refers to Aaliyah’s accent of mysterious origin. It will be fantastic.)

Poster – Queen of the Sklogs (C+)

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(Things I liked about this poster: The color scheme, and Aaliyah in general. Things I didn’t like in this poster: Stuart Townsend looks like crap and is creeping all up on my girl Aaliyah, and the font used on the poster is garbage (although perhaps it is just the smokey smudging). My initial impression was that it was much better than I expected, but I ended up downgrading it a couple of times as I stared at it. But above average I think.)

Tagline(s) – The Mother Of All Vampires (B+)

(I kind of like the play on words, but I kind of hate how pop-y it sounds. As they say, a little MTV-vampire for me in the end. But clever enough that I think it deserves a top grade)

Keyword(s) – vampire; Top Ten by BMeTric: 88.9 Vampires Suck (2010); 87.5 BloodRayne (2005); 81.7 Ultraviolet (2006); 78.0 The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009); 72.1 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011); 69.1 Stan Helsing (2009); 69.0 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010); 68.1 Vampire in Brooklyn (1995); 63.7 Dracula 2001 (2000); 63.6 Dudley Do-Right (1999);

(The Twilight Saga is definitely interesting, since I’ve actually seen all of them, just outside of BMT. I’m actually not sure why I would do that … they are obviously BMT material. At least one of them will qualify and drag the series into things.)

Notes – The singing voice of Lestat was supplied by Jonathan Davis of Korn. However due to contractual difficulties, Davis could not sing on the soundtrack album release. The five songs written by he and Richard Gibbs for the movie were then performed on the album by Marilyn Manson, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, David Draiman of Disturbed, Wayne Static of Static-X and Jay Gordon of Orgy. Davis was still allowed to play several instruments on the album. (Whaaaa, contractual difficulties … what could that mean? To not be able to get Korn to sing on a soundtrack release.)

Aaliyah died in a plane crash shortly after principal photography was completed but had not yet actually performed any ADR redubbing for her character. Michael Rymer called in Aaliyah’s brother, Rashad Haughton, to help with overdubbing her voice following her death due to their similar voices, special vocal technology was also used to make his voice sound more feminine. (That is kind of sad, but also interesting they were able to use the brother’s voice. I wouldn’t have thought that would work very well).

Aaliyah was the first actor to be cast for the film. She was enthusiastic about taking the role due to her fascination with Egyptian mythology and also being a huge fan of vampire horror fiction.

For the scenes of Lestat’s concert in Death Valley, over 3000 goths were recruited from Melbourne nightclubs and on the internet, then driven on a fleet of buses to a quarry in Werribee to act as extras. (Imagine how much you would regret ruining your rave night out during hour two of sitting in a Quarry with nothing to do)

Stuart Townsend shares his name with a character from another Anne Rice novel, “The Witching Hour”. Upon meeting Townsend, Rice handed him a copy of the book and instructed him to turn to a certain page number, whereupon was written “The Life of Stuart Townsend”. Townsend was flattered that she had written him into her new book, until she told him that she had written it eleven years prior. (Haaaaa)

Author of the novel Anne Rice considers this to be a terrible disappointment for her and for many of the readers as she believed it mutilated her own work. (Well, that’s what you get about 50% of the time when you option your work, so …)

Warner Bros. was already into its last year of owning motion picture rights to the first three Vampire Chronicles books which would then have transferred back to author ‘Anne Rice’, who could then sell the rights to another company of her choosing. Knowing what little time they had left, despite the fact they’ve had the rights and opportunity to make the latter two movies for over seven years, Warner Bros. hastily hired writers to condense the books “The Vampire Lestat” and “Queen of the Damned” into one movie with the latter being the movie title. (Yeah basically, pretty dumb idea honestly, but when you got to Wheel-of-Time-the-television-show something, you got to do it I guess)

On the casting of Stuart Townsend as Lestat, Anne Rice stated “Everything I hear about the movie is good. Warner Bros. is extremely enthusiastic. They are working very hard to make it perfect. I have no real news. Let me repeat what I mentioned in a recent message. I met Stuart Townsend, the young man who is playing Lestat and he was absolutely charming. He had Lestat’s excellent speaking voice and his feline grace. I cannot wait to see him in the film”.

Stuart Townsend took the role of Lestat after originally being cast as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) but was recast with Viggo Mortensen after four days of shooting because the filmmakers realized he was too young for the role. (uh …. Yeah, which is why I kind of don’t believe the story. Makes no sense)

The architecture of Aunt Maharet’s house is based upon Angkor Wat, the stone temple located in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The film was a subject of controversy due to inspiring a real life murder shortly after the film’s theatrical release. In December 2002, Allan Menzies from West Lothian in Scotland murdered one of his friends. He claimed in court that it was Aaliyah’s character “Queen Akasha” from the film that told him to do it. (Say whaaaaaa)

Josh Hartnett, Heath Ledger, and Wes Bently were all considered to replace Tom Cruise as Lestat after he declined to reprise his role. (Harnett would have been cool)

The fact that the night club “The Admiral’s Arms” was a vampire bar “in the meat packing district” of London is an homage to the night club “Mother” which was a vampyre bar located in the meat packing district of New York City. (Is it though? … IMDb users can sometimes read a bit too much into things)

Wes Bentley was originally cast as Lestat, but he dropped out.

Singer Aimee Nash of “The Black Ryder” duo had a cameo as a vampire singer in the “Admiral’s Arms” vampire nightclub although the majority of her footage was deleted (she is still visible in the background of the nightclub scene).

Queen Akasha never actually attacks anyone by biting their neck. She either sets them on fire, rips their heart out, or bites another area of their body. (Fun facts!)