Interview With The Vampire

Review by Guido Henkel

Cover

Interview With The Vampire   (1994)                                    Warner Home Video

Length:         123 mins.                                              Rated:           R                                                              Languages: English, French                                     Subtitles:     English, French, Spanish                     Format:       Letterboxed                                                                              Pan & Scan

When, some years ago, I first read Anne Rice’s novel “Interview with the Vampire”, I was impressed by the unique, romantic view she used to explore the vampire subject. Ever since the publication of “Interview,” the genre has been turned upside down.

Lestat and Louis

Vampires are now perceived in a totally different light than the horrible, blood-sucking monstrosities they were in the decades previous. Her stories display vampires as lost souls that harbor emotions more deeply felt than most humans could dream of. Despite being blessed by their ability to live forever, they are damned to eternal life, tormented and constantly struggling between joy and angst in the hopelessness of their being - just like humans. They are stylish ladies and gentlemen with their own weaknesses and character streaks, while at the same time wielding unbelievable powers. Neil Jordan’s excellent adaptation of this novel resulted in an atmospheric and eye-catching movie.

Have drink

“Interview with the Vampire” is the story of the age-old, disillusioned vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) searching the world for companionship in his time of solitude. In New Orleans of 1791, a desolate young man named Louis (Brad Pitt) finally catches his eye. After losing his wife in childbirth, the wealthy Louis has given up hope, become extremely self-destructive, and is now on the verge of killing himself. Lestat lures the young man with promises about the beauty of eternal life and everlasting youth and finally turns him into his companion, another vampire. It soon turns out that the soft-mannered Louis has some problems with the vampire’s lifestyle and attitude. Unlike Lestat, he does not enjoy taking people’s lives. He is tormented by it and decides to feast on rats instead, while constantly seeking answers to his innermost questions, as well as seeking the truth behind vampiredom: Where do vampires come from and are there more?

Over time, Lestat grows more and more angry over Louis’ neurotic weaknesses and finally decides to create another companion for them, both as a friend to Louis and a punishment for his self-obsessed behavior. The 6-year old orphan Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) seems to be the perfect

choice for him, for children are by nature quite unrestrained. What Lestat forgot  or perhaps realized  was the fact that Claudia would grow older and find herself eternally trapped in the body of a child. As the movie unfolds, she develops a furious hatred toward the unscrupulous Lestat, and plans the most hideous thing a vampire can possibly do. She wants to kill one of her own kind. To that end, she poisons Lestat. When Louis and Claudia leave New Orleans to visit the Old World, they finally find some of Louis’ answers. There are more vampires in Paris.

A human life

Though at first it seems that Lestat simply celebrates and enjoys his eternal life as if it were an overly splendid party and with a gratuitous disrespect for life, there is far more depth to the character that remains mostly uncovered in the movie. In fact, he is just as tantalizing a character as Louis, and while the movie focuses on Louis and Claudia, in some ways it is also the story of Lestat, lost in his loneliness and somehow detached from the world around him.

Tom Cruise as the choice for the vampire Lestat raised controversy before the movie’s first theatrical release. Even Anne Rice herself publicly bad-mouthed the actor as being a mis-casting for the character, rambling against the studio’s lack of sensitivity regarding her

her intellectual properties. Many people, Mrs. Rice included, had to review their positions however after the movie’s first public screenings. While it might have been audacious, it turned out, Tom Cruise, is Lestat, just as Brad Pitt plays the perfect Louis. Both of them are bested by the young actress Kirsten Dunst, however, in her gripping and ferocious portrayal of Claudia.

“Interview with the Vampire” comes in a widescreen and a Pan&Scan version. The transfer to DVD is well done and captures all the details of the intricate settings and elaborate lightings. You will not notice any chroma noise or pixelation on this disc and the image is quite sharp.

While you will notice some more subtleties in the movie’s 5.1 channel Dolby Digital sound- stage, the Dolby Surround soundtrack is still very dynamic and active. It comes dubbed in English and French, and offers selectable subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

The movie has a weak spot, which is the script itself. It’s not very explanatory and has some logic gaps. This will be especially obvious to viewers who are not familiar with the novel, as Anne Rice, who also wrote the movie’s screenplay, makes far too many assumptions about the viewer’s knowledge.

Louis and Claudia
Theatre des Vampires

The script evolves in its own time, resulting in a lamentably slow start of the movie with lots of dialogue. Only about 30 minutes into the story, with the introduction of Claudia’s character, do events start to flow more naturally. Since the story is more of a narrative than a drama, the lack of a human victim to fear for keeps the suspense level low. However, the movie easily compensates for those weaknesses through an interesting story and convincing acting, enhanced by its lush production designs and the atmo- spheric sepia-toned photography. It is entertaining and an elaborate piece of filmmaking with stunning visuals.

 
 

Learn more about this and other horror films at the

House Of Horrors

January 1998

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