Interview with the Vampire-attachment0

Interview with the Vampire

Movie Information

In Brief: Neil Jordan's Interview with the Vampire may not be perfect, but it's still the closest anyone has come to creating a truly epic vampire movie — and in purely A-picture terms. It's big, it spans centuries and contents. It's a rich and richly detailed film that, if anything, is actually more impressive today than it was in 1994. And as much as it was claimed that Tom Cruise was miscast, there's no denying that he gives himself completely over to the film.
Genre: Horror
Director: Neil Jordan
Starring: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Christian Slater, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea
Rated: R

When it came out in 1994, Neil Jordan’s film of Anne Rice’s novel Interview with the Vampire was a pretty big deal. It was the 11th biggest domestic moneymaker of the year, had the year’s largest weekend opening, and was the ninth biggest moneymaker worldwide. But it was also a film that was marked by a lot of kvetching — mostly from fans of the novel and mostly for the casting of Tom Cruise as Lestat. I can’t say that Cruise would have been my first choice, but I am not a fan of Cruise — and I wasn’t back then. Looked at with the benefit of hindsight — and after the relatively low-rent 2002 sequel Queen of the Damned — both Cruise and the film are looking a lot better. Whatever may be said about Cruise being physically wrong (and he ain’t right) for Lestat, there’s no denying that he offers a lively and even fearless performance — an especially fearless one for a guy who starts calling up his legal team whenever it’s suggested that he’s gay because he plays Lestat in baldly gay terms. (He and the film really brought Richatd Corliss’ homophobia to the forefront in his Time magazine review.)

Cruise plays Lestat very strictly as the screenplay presents him — as a vampire who is determined to have Louis (Brad Pitt) for his own at any cost over a period of a couple of centuries. Indeed, for all its supernatural trappings, the film is almost a soap opera about Lestat being in love with Louis, who is both attracted to and repelled by his pursuer. (In fact, one of the film’s last lines makes Lestat come across as a world-weary old queen who’s both drawn to and fed-up with Louis’ hidebound resistance — the Clifton Webb of the vampire world, if you like.) It’s an interesting take on something that is generally left as subtext — and more often than not in lesbian undertones. It’s inherent in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and finds its way very slightly into the Tod Browning Lugosi film (though carefully excised from the Spanish version that was made at the same time). Here it’s front and center.

As a vampire picture — pure and simple — it’s in a class by itself in both scope and stylishness. It dwarfs Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) — and is a whole lot less silly in the bargain — and it clearly makes those Twilight things look anemic. Jordan is never afraid to play the film’s horror content — and there’s a lot of it — as horror content. And he does so on a grand scale. The problem may be that it’s all on just too grand a scale, making it break into a series of big moment set-pieces. Still, taken on its own terms, it looks better every year. And I doubt we’ll ever see anything like it again.

The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Interview with the Vampire Thursday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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10 thoughts on “Interview with the Vampire

  1. Sean R. Moorhead

    (He and the film really brought Richatd CorlissТ homophobia to the forefront in his Time magazine.)

    I’ve never followed Corliss closely enough to pick up on that. Now I’m going to have to look up the original Time review out of morbid curiosity.

    It dwarfs CoppolaТs Bram StokerТs Dracula (1992) Ч and is a whole lot less silly in the bargain

    You say that as though the abject silliness of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a bad thing!

  2. Ken Hanke

    You say that as though the abject silliness of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a bad thing!

    You may have a point. It’s gonna be a while before I bring myself to watch it again — though I did pick up a copy in the Wal-Mart dump-bin just in case (and because it was $5). Funny thing is when I first saw in 1992 I liked it. I could even overlook Keanu and (worse yet to me) Elwes. I liked all the old-fashioned effects and dissolves and overlays. Then it came out on laserdisc and I barely got through it. Even the things I liked got on my nerves because every clever thing went on so long that it all seemed to feel like it was Coppola making sure you saw how clever he was. One day I’ll try it again. One day.

  3. Jeremy Dylan

    I have a complicated relationship with BS Dracula. I think nearly all the faults stem from the screenplay and some of the performances (or indeed, accents). Visually, it’s a knockout and Hopkins as Van Helsing is an absolute barn burner.

  4. Dionysis

    While I appreciated the cinematography, set designs, costumes and so forth, and even some of the performances, the one thing I found in common with both Interview with a Vampire and Bram Stoker’s Dracula was that I (disppointedly for me) didn’t really care for either one of the films, when each came out and on subsequent viewings. Interview (for me) just edges out Dracula by a hair, or maybe a fang.

  5. Ken Hanke

    My biggest qualm is that by being so intent on being bigger and better the creepiness got short-shrifted.

  6. Sean R. Moorhead

    Even the things I liked got on my nerves because every clever thing went on so long that it all seemed to feel like it was Coppola making sure you saw how clever he was.

    This is undoubtedly true, and yet every time van Helsing says, in that elaborately casual manner, that he just wants to cut Lucy’s head off, I laugh. That’s a testament to something — whether the movie’s quality or my simplemindedness, I’m not sure.

    I would also award it an unjustifiable number of bonus points for all the nods to Lang’s Destiny.

  7. DrSerizawa

    I think that the Twilight series and all the inevitable knock-offs to come (the book universe is chockablock with authors trying to cash in on turgid soapy vampire schlock) only serve to make IWAV look even better. I never cared for IWAV that much but after purposefully sitting through Twilight I revisited IWAV on cable last year and decided that I appreciate it more.

    Of course the Twilight series makes everything look better.

    • Dionysis

      That’s one way to appreciate it, I guess. Kind of like wolfing down a fresh cow pie sandwich, and then realizing that pickled beets aren’t so bad after all.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Of course the Twilight series makes everything look better.

    Well, nearly everything.

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