'Movies Made Me Murder'
Pleasing the Queen
Allan Menzies, 22, was obsessed with the vampire film, The Queen of the Damned and he considered its principal character, the vampire Akasha, his "queen." By his own count, he had watched the film at least 100 times, sometimes three times a day. In the process, he came to believe that Akasha actually appeared to him and ordered him to do things. So he killed, and his crime and trial were covered extensively by The Scotsman.
Akasha, played by the late actress Aaliyah, is depicted in The Queen of the Damned, based on Anne Rice's novel of the same name, as the ultimate vampire progenitor. She's a vicious blood hunter with no remorse. Beautiful and vibrant, with slender build and sexy clothing, she captured more than one teenage male's fantasy.
In the novel, Akasha had been an ancient Egyptian queen whose jealousy of the powers of a pair of twin witches over a spirit led the spirit to infuse Akasha with its essence, which carried a powerful thirst for blood. As Akasha became a vampire and then transformed her husband and others, all vampires became connected to her. In the novel, she started killing mass numbers of humans to feed her pathological need, commanding her prince, Lestat, to do the same.
Thomas McKendrick, Menzies's best friend, had introduced him to the film and he begged to borrow it. He was soon hooked. Akasha became real, as did other vampires, and he began to call himself "Leon." Menzies believed that Akasha made regular visits to him and had made a deal to grant him immortality in exchange for killing people to deliver their souls. It wasn't long before McKendrick disappeared, last seen when he visited the Menzies on December 11, 2002.
Menzies' father came home that day and noticed spots of blood in various places around the house. That worried him, but Allan told him it had come from cutting himself on a can.
On January 4, McKendrick's clothing was found in a bag on the moors, so two days later the police searched the Menzies' home. After they talked with Allan, he took an overdose of drugs and ended up in the hospital. On January 18, 2003, McKendrick's remains were found in a shallow grave. The pathology report indicated that he'd been stabbed 42 times with a large knife in the face, head, and body, and bludgeoned over the head six times with a hammer-like instrument. The attack, the pathologist commented, had been carried out for a prolonged period of time.
Menzies said that he had decided to sell his soul to be born into another life, another form. He tried to plead guilty to culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished capacity, but the Crown rejected it and ordered him to stand trial in October 2003. He cast the blame on an alter ego, developed under the influence of the film, and said he wished he had never seen it. He told the High Court that on December 11 McKendrick had made the fatal error of insulting Akasha. Menzies had "snapped," bludgeoning him and stabbing him to death. He then drank McKendrick's blood and offered this death to Akasha.
"I could never get the thought of being a vampire out of my mind," he said. "To put it bluntly, after I had seen the tape so many times, I wanted to go out and murder people." He believed that imbibing the blood of his victim made him a vampire and sealed his pact with Akasha.
The jury deliberated for an hour and a half and returned a unanimous verdict that Menzies was guilty of murder. The judge gave him a minimum sentence of 18 years.
Another killer had a similar experience, but his orders came from above — or at least through a movie screen.