I recently watched the 90’s vampire film, Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles. When I was younger I use to like watching this film and it wasn’t because of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas, the gothic story and the actors wearing the equivalent of velvet carpeting for clothes. The story for a vampire film is very engaging because it’s a layered story told in an autobiographic style.
The film when it was initially released did very well in theatres and was nominated for an Oscar for best art direction and score but won for production design and cinematography. The film is an adaptations of Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles that was made into a film with the help of her supervision after being in development hell since the late 1970’s. The male characters are sarcastic, bruiting, flirtatious and suave for vampires but not unheard of in the pile of vampire films that have ever been made.
The film is a firsthand tale of the life of a vampire being interviewed by a reporter with multiple cassette tapes. The story is told through the eyes of Louis de Pointe de Lac (he goes by Louis throughout the film), a depressed wealthy plantation owner who lost his wife and unborn child in 1791 Spanish Louisiana. He roams around taverns feeling lost and broken gambling his large fortune away. After many nights of drinking, gambling, sex and feelings that life isn’t worth living he is attacked by a vampire near the docked boats at a harbour. The vampire returns for Louis to give him a proposition of a new life filled with better wonders and lust than his previous life. Promising that food will taste better, his sight will be vivid and his grieves with life will be gone. Louis is turned into a vampire by the vampire, Lestat de Lioncourt. Louis realizes that he is not a killer like Lestat being not use to the new lifestyle he must live to survive.
Without rewriting the script or giving too much away to a twenty-something-year-old movie, they turn a child into a vampire who they adopt, they meet up with a coven of vampires then present day. The role of the interviewer was supposed to be played by River Phoenix but he sadly died before filming. The character was played by Christian Slater and the film was dedicated in memory to River Phoenix.
The film does move quickly in between time periods and events like it was edited that way to eliminate excessive time but it would just be vampire time and how Louis mostly drones on about life. The film is not climatic but filled with many minor events. The film is around 90 minutes long so a lot is packed in between that time.
The special effects still hold up because a lot of them are practical effects and very minor in the story. Particularly the scenes with Lestat “dying” and rising back to life vengefully. The vampires do fly and levitate a lot in the film but the effect just seems like the is losing gravitational pull as if he’s on another planet. It seems like pulleys and lifts were used. But very plausible and trippy to see Stephen Rea dance and float on screen. The blood still looks dreary, thick and dark red. The gory blood scenes don’t look cartoonish, bright orange and CGI’ed. Furthermore, I also like how the vampire’s teeth don’t retract into their mouths, that might be a part of the original story.
The set design is detailed and looks (at first glance) period accurate. The set looks like it was painstakingly built to match the descriptions in the novel and the knickknacks in the background to fill up the space. It adds to the world of the night a vampire would see. The costumes were also very elegant. They are always wearing evening wear in some way. A lot of embroidered silks, long sleek gowns and tuxedos from the Romantic era to modern-day New Orleans.
The music is climatic. Imagine walking upstairs with this music when you’re motivated to go somewhere and to be melodramatic. It had effective use of violins, vocal harmonies and wind instruments for the musical scores. It’s not something that will get into your head but it will set you into the mood to watch a gothic horror.
Brad Pitt does carry the weight of this film very well. Louis is bruiting and demure becoming the stronger person he needed to be all along after his wife and child died. The narration from the character is never upbeat or happy always depressed and dreary. He never smiles but sometimes laughs like a chuckle. He mops around a lot but looks like a character who is listless gets taken advantage of often almost by every character but he does fight back when his nerves are pushed. The contact lenses the actor wore were bright green and always placed correctly in his eyes. I mean the lenses were not off to the side of his eye or constantly moving. I heard he hated playing this character because of the contact lenses but you can’t tell from watching it. This might of been the third film I’ve ever seen Brad Pitt with long bruin hair.
Lestat de Lioncourt was played by Tom Cruise in this catty, calculating, scheming, sarcastic antihero role. It’s one of the few times he plays a character that has one card up his sleeve in this outlandish style. This was a time in his career that he was in more dramas than action films. The character is instantly likeable with his antics but always scheming to get something. The character is bisexual lusting after Louis and having a small family with him. But the character is also a horrible brat. His attitude problem was known throughout the land of vampires (at least in this movie.) It was the same skill set he taught Claudia to be a more lethal vampire. It even explains the ending. The character Lestat was supposed to get a sequel named Lestat but nothing was ever produced. The character Lestat is an iconic vampire character because of the passion-filled performance and decadent dress.
All the performances had something to give to the story. The film is never dull since something is always happening. Even when it’s silent or still, there’s subtle character development. Even though it’s a vampire tale, it also works as a period piece. The film is decadent and indulgent at times with the scene-chewing the actors do but in a very good way. Please don’t remake this!
Genre: Horror / Romance
Duration: 123 minutes
Four and a half out of five stars