A long, long time ago, there was a television station that played almost nothing but music videos, 24 hours a day. This station was simply called MTV... as in music television. Unfortunately, what was once a place that welcomed musical and visual artists with open arms, became a bastardized conglomerate of shitty reality television shows and other such banalities. Pushing practically all music videos aside, the channel became a joke amongst its original supporters and has yet to regain the glorious position it once held on our televisions.
Thankfully, the Internet came along and with the help of video services such as Youtube, we're all able to relive the unintentional hilarity that made the music videos of the 80's and 90's so great. It's sad to think about how the music video seems to be like a dying art form, because there really were some amazingly creative videos produced for a good 20 years. Just one look at Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is all you'd need to be convinced that music videos should be the primary focus of a channel like MTV, not Road Rules or the exploits of the latest Myspace bimbo.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that not all music videos from this time period were true works of genius. In fact, more often than not, they were downright awful. But it was a special kind of awful. It was that endearing "so bad it's hilariously great" kind of awful. As good as videos like Thriller were, there are countless other ones that I loved simply because they were absolutely ridiculous. Today I would like to cover one such video.
Queensrÿche (with their trademark umlaut over the 'y') was easily one of my favorite bands in the 90's. When it comes to progressive metal, it really doesn't get much better in my book than their masterpiece concept album, "Operation Mindcrime". Their other albums were fantastic too, and while their more recent work leaves much to be desired, I can always go back to the archives to listen to their greatest hits and their unconventional works such as "Rage For Order". That being said, not everything Queensrÿche did was an absolute work of brilliance. To show you a perfect example of just how corny they could be, let's take a look at the music video that introduced them to the world... Queen Of The Reich!
"In the millennium after the 4th great war, the world was in chaos. An evil adventurer had discovered an ancient computer energized by a crystal so powerful that it enabled her to enslave the world and to become queen... "Queen of the Reich." Many tried to destroy the queen and failed, only to be absorbed into her computer shrine. Mankind's last hope was the five freedom fighters..."
Sounds like a bad episode of the original Star Trek series, doesn't it? Well, that's actually not too far off as you'll see with the style of this Tales Of Queensrÿche music video.
It all starts out with the high-pitched wails of vocalist Geoff Tate as he and his band... er... I mean... "the five freedom fighters" arrive in some unidentified underground cave. I'm not sure what's up with this particular cave, but there's a lot of smoke and some old tires in it. You'd think somebody who just enslaved the entire world would choose to live in a nicer place, like on her own private tropical island, but not the Queen of the Reich. Nope, she's happy living down in her smoky, tire-filled underground cave. And as you can see by the way she's clutching her Robocopish helmet, she really doesn't like how the five freedom fighters have come to pay her a visit.
Distressed by the sight of these intruders on her computer screen, she activates the identification program to figure out exactly who they are. You see, she has floating robot spies, somewhat akin to the flying bots seen in They Live, to warn her of any trespassers. Naturally, sometimes the computer shows the freedom fighters making their way through the labyrinth-like caves, and other times it shows them rocking out on stage with excessive use of smoke machines. And she sure does have a nice view of them, what with that large space crystal-powered flat screen TV of hers 'n all. It's good to be the Queen.
If that's not simply the greatest way you've ever seen seen the members of a band get introduced to the world, I don't know what is. Being identified by an evil, Robocop-helmet-wearin' queen and her crystal-powered supercomputer? I'm sorry, but that pretty much trumps all band introductions past, present and future.
As the video continues, we see these brave fighters make their way through more smoke-filled areas and a monster appears in front of a random brick wall. It's a weird, spiky creature that probably belongs in a GWAR video rather than a Queensrÿche one. Geoff, being the leader of the group, goes over to inspect it while the rest of them have their laser guns ready to fire.
Turns out that one monster was a distraction, because while Geoff is taking a closer look at it, the other four freedom fighters are ambushed by some more monsters that pull them further underground. We see the last freedom fighter's hand reaching up in desperation as one of the big creatures drags it down with a big Hellboyish hand. Geoff makes a valiant attempt to save his friends but it's too late as you can tell by the excrutiating mental anguish he's going through. He may be a great lead vocalist, but I think Geoff may have missed his true calling as an actor. That's some raw emotion you've got going for you there Geoff... let's hope you can use some of it to defeat the Queen of the Reich!
The Queen is obviously quite pleased with herself since her monstrous henchmen have just captured four of the five freedom fighters. But hey, even though four of them have been captured, the band is still rockin' on her TV screen. And while some monsters appear to be partially made of stone, others look more like disgustingly large sacks of flesh such as L'il Debbull and Bobo (from Nothing But Trouble). Either that or they're one of Jabba the Hutt's abortions... take your pick. She then approaches her four captors with a cluster of red crystals in hand. Oh no! What's she going to do!
Her helmet visor begins to glow bright red, and one can only assume that the worst is about to happen to those four brave souls.
Apparently, when her visor glows red, it somehow actives the cluster of red crystals, enabling her to enslave the freedom fighters so they can be absorbed into her computer shrine. At the very least, these four fighters will have a unique outlook on the petrefaction process. As for the Queen, I guess you can think of her as a modern sci-fi Medusa... with power crystals... and a big screen TV... and cleavage... and a Robocop helmet. Take that Greek mythology!
With the four fighters enslaved, we're not treated to some split-screen action shots of the band doing some classic cock rock poses. You know, stuff like standing back to back while shredding a solo and standing up while pounding on the drums. Good times, good times. As their rockin' solos continue to dazzle, we see the storyline progressing on half of the screen as one of those big fleshy creatures drags a slave girl through the caves. Geoff arrives just in the nick of time and blasts one of the monsters with his laser and frees the slave girl who you would think would now become a band groupie as a way of expressing her gratitude. Au contraire, mon frère!
As Geoff tries to lead her to safety, he quickly learns that the slavegirl was an ingenius trap set by the Queen of the Reich. Her hand quickly morphs into one of those rock-like monsters and it drags Geoff into the Queen's lair for their final confrontation.
Geoff muscles the monster away and then dives to the ground, dodging the queens initial blast which would've turned him to stone. She then fires a second shot, but he grabs a silver rock (or is it a conch shell?) and uses it to reflect her red blast right back at her with some pretty amazing results. Behold:
Looks like the director forgot to shoot a scene for this, so he just took a still photograph of the Queen of the Reich and stuck it into the video, even though it doesn't match the aspect ratio of the screen at all. That's professional work right there folks! Anyway, while the reflected blast from the red crystals doesn't turn the Queen to stone, it does manage to freeze her where she stands. Yes my friends, Robocop appears to be offline.
With the Queen seemingly no longer a threat, Geoff rushes over to her crystal-powered computer and deactivates it so that the other four freedom fighters can have their... well... freedom. But hey, what about all the other poor bastards that she supposedly enslaved in order to conquer the world? Eh, fuck 'em... all that matters is that the band is together so they can continue to rock!
And rock they do. Just look into Geoff's eyes as he lets you know "You're fading awaaaaaaaaaay! No, no!" That man is ALL business, folks... ALL business. That black headband of his isn't catching sweat, it's catching the raw power of metal which drips from his brow. Wait, did I say drips? I meant gushes. The raw power of metal which gushes from his brow.
The five brave freedom fighters reunited, they walk over to the Queen who appears to be frozen. Once again, their leader Geoff is enlisted to take all the risk as he cautiously removes her helmet-mask thing. They look pretty horrified at first sight of her face and then the unthinkable happens...
In an instant, the band appears to be blasted with white light as the video comes to a screeching hault. And this concludes the one and only known installment of "Tales Of Queensrÿche". Yes, we're teased with that "to be continued" text, but unless their other music videos like "Silent Lucidity" were somehow a continuation of the storyline that went over my head, we're still gonna be waiting a while to find out what happened. I like to think that removing her helmet unleashed an uncontrollably powerful laser blast, which tore apart the souls of the five freedom fighters in an instant. Kind of like whenever Cyclops from X-Men has his special glasses removed and he goes all haywire with those optic blasts of his. Hell of a story for a four minute music video, eh?
It's a lot of fun for me to review my favorite classic cheeseball music videos like this one, so you can expect more features like this in the future. Until then, I hope all of you "rÿche 'n rollers" out there are awaiting the exciting conclusion of this tale with bated breath. I'm sure it's coming right around the corner... it's only been just over 20 years or so. Yes indeed, the Queen of the Reich is coming for you!
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