“There seems no reason for any of it, does there? But what if I could give it back to you? Pluck out the pain and give you another life…one you could never imagine. And it would be for all time. And sickness and death could never touch you again. Don’t be afraid. I’m going to give you the choice I never had” – Tom Cruise, Interview with the Vampire (1994)
I have had a fascination with vampires my entire life. I watched and read all of the age-appropriate vampire stories I could find as I grew up. In middle school, I bragged about knowing everything there is to know about vampires. In my teen years, I came across a vampire film I had never encountered before: Interview with the Vampire by Neil Jordan. Based on the first installment of The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, the style, storytelling, and performances were unlike any vampire movie I had seen before. Within minutes, it became a top player in my movie collection.
The movie begins with a sweeping view of nighttime in San Francisco. The protagonist, Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) looks out over the city from the window of his small apartment while a journalist he just met (Christian Slater) sets up his recording equipment for an interview. The young man had met Louis by chance and wanted to interview him because he sensed he had to have an interesting story to share. He was correct; before they begin, Louis reveals that he is a vampire. Frightened at first, the interviewer encourages Louis to proceed.
Louis begins his tale from the time he was twenty-four and the master of his family’s plantation in 1791 New Orleans, Louisiana. Devastated by the death of his wife and infant child, Louis turns to alcohol and other risky activities to numb the pain and tempt death. An onlooker observes him for some time, ultimately deciding to intervene in Louis’ self-destruction. Louis has caught the attention of Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise), a vampire.
One night, Lestat bites Louis’ neck and drops him in the harbor after killing the other humans around him. Louis survives but becomes very sick; Lestat shows up in his bedroom and tells him he can give him a better life without all the pain of living he was experiencing. With nothing to lose, Louis agrees. He watches his last sunrise. That night, Lestat bites Louis once more and feeds some of his own blood to Louis. Shortly after, Louis completes his transition into a vampire. Lestat moves into Louis’ family home and shows him how vampires survive (including sleeping in coffins). At night, they attend lavish parties in New Orleans together. Lestat teaches Louis the ways of their kind, particularly how to seduce and claim victims.
Louis grows resentful of immortality and distances himself from Lestat. His frustration grows until he burns down the house, forcing himself and Lestat to start over somewhere else. To survive without harming humans and losing the humanity he has left, Louis feeds on rats. With Louis acting out and openly pulling away, Lestat takes advantage when Louis finds a young girl clinging to her dead mother in a plague-stricken village. Lestat brings the girl home and changes her into a vampire, using her to oblige Louis into staying with him. Despite their horrific introduction, Louis and the girl, Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), forge a loving relationship.
The trio build a life over many years together as New Orleans becomes a new world around them. As she sees more of the world and, more specifically, matured women, Claudia grows anxious and angry of her eternal entrapment in the body of a child. This creates mounting tension between her and her two companions, particularly Lestat. After years of mistreatment from her and Louis’ maker, Claudia proposes an act of revenge against Lestat that will change their family and their place as vampires forever.
Interview with the Vampire remains a unique and inspiring presentation of horror. Its narrative structure, production design, art direction, and many other cinematic factors set it apart from its fellow influential vampire films. The movie itself continues to be referenced in popular culture, including Deadpool 2 (2018) and FX’s What We Do in the Shadows. With the highly-acclaimed and stylistic new series on AMC+, the Vampire Chronicles and the other worlds created by Anne Rice will undoubtedly continue to acquire more fans.
Anne Rice, the author who created this opulent world and its adored characters, sadly passed away in December 2021. She is one of my favorite writers who has always and will always inspire my own work. When I see anything to do with Interview with the Vampire (especially this, one of my favorite movies ever), I am reminded of how the act of telling stories and bringing them to life reaffirms our humanity and connects us all in ways we may not have found otherwise. If any subject I write about for this blog demonstrates the lasting power of storytelling, it is Interview with the Vampire.
Until next time,