Interview with the Vampire started life (or after-life) as a novel, and one that turned out to be very successful. The major selling point of the story was that fact that the tale was told from the vampire’s perspective, a vampire that was once mortal, just like you and me.
Neil Jordan’s brooding 1994 film adaptation is still seen by many to be one of the best vampire films ever made.
Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) lives in New Orleans in 1791 and is doing pretty well for himself financially, being a plantation owner.
He’s bit of a party animal (by 1700’s standards) and is often seen shmoozing the local ladies with his charm and good looks. However, the death of his brother sends him on a mission of self destruction and it’s not long until he catches the eye of Lestat (Tom Cruise) a local aristocrat and, incidentally, a vampire who is drawn by his magnetism.
When confronted by Lestats sharp fangs Louis begs for death, wanting to end the pain of the loss of his brother, but instead Lestat turns him into a vampire, wanting them to remain friends forever. The trouble is that Louis never can come to terms with his new status and retains his compassion for human kind, putting him at odds with Lestat who thinks very little of mortals.
Before long the difference of opinion comes to a head and Louis (encouraged by child blood sucker Claudia, played by Kirsten Dunst) neutralises Lestat and he escapes with the kid to make their way across America and the world looking for answers.
On the trip Louis makes friends, faces conflict and suffers more loss, all whilst trying to make sense of his condition and the meaning of it all.
Interview with the Vampire was a big hit at the box office and came at at time when both Pitt and Cruise were hot property in Hollywood. Although the author of the book, Anne Rice was said to be unhappy with the choice of Cruise for Lestat, she was ultimately happy with the final product, which is understandable considering that the lead vampires are both played with conviction.
Interview with the Vampire isn’t as romantic as Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and strikes a good balance between telling what is an emotion-filled tale, whilst providing enough action and tempo changes to keep things interesting.
The film feels like an adventure, albeit a dark one. Elements like the turning of a young child and the gruesome events at the Théâtre des Vampires provide some unexpected twists to a tale that could otherwise be mistaken for a showcase of contemporary Hollywood heartthrobs.
Though the recent flood of vampire films has diluted the genre and to some extent, the vampire itself, Interview with the Vampire still holds strong today and is compulsive viewing.
Cohesive narration and the atmospheric setting work to fully involve the viewer in Louis’ journey and feel compassion towards a creature that is usually the focus of our fear and displeasure.