INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. (1994) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. (1994) BASED ON THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY ANNE RICE. SCREENPLAY BY ANNE RICE.

DIRECTED BY NEIL JORDAN. PRODUCED BY DAVID GEFFEN AND STEVEN WOOLLEY.

STARRING TOM CRUISE, BRAD PITT, CHRISTIAN SLATER, KIRSTEN DUNST, ANTONIO BANDERAS AND STEPHEN REA.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is possibly the most sumptuous, luxurious and gorgeous-looking vampire film ever made, probably because producer David Geffen was able to pour vast amounts of money into it.

Whereas, as we know, a lot of other vampire films have quite low budgets and they have to film in the director’s back garden because it’s a total wilderness and makes a great cemetery when you add a few cardboard gravestones and stuffed ravens to it, caw caw.

And how many independently-made vampire flicks are able to cast Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, the handsomest stars in the universe and probably still the highest-paid Hollywood stars in the world today, as their leading men? Exactly.

I’m halfway through reading Anne Rice’s fabulous book INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE: BOOK ONE IN THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES at the moment, so it seemed like an excellent time to re-visit the film, which I hadn’t seen in years. Of course, I should probably have waited to finish the book before I went reminding myself about the ending, but oh well. It’s sexy vampires; who could wait…?

One of the most important things to remember about this film is that Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are bloody big rides in it and always will be, world without end, Amen. I’m not a big fan of Brad Pitt’s films, but I can allow that he has a certain physical and sexual appeal, ahem.

I’ve been in love with Tom Cruise since seeing him in VANILLA SKY in 2002, however. It’s one of my favourite films of all times. I went to see it six or seven weeks in a row back in those days when films stayed in the cinema for longer than five days.

It helped take my mind off an horrific break-up I was going through at the time, and I loved the soundtrack so much that I even contemplated buying two copies of the soundtrack in case anything ever happened to the original. That’s never happened to me before or since. I can’t even imagine that it ever might again.

The second thing to bear in mind is their hair in INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, oh my God, their hair! It’s truly lovely. Brad Pitt’s in particular is so thick and swishy and luxuriant and full that it’s enough to make his ex-squeeze Jennifer Aniston, herself famed for her swinging locks, pea-green with envy.

I’m not crazy about Tom Cruise’s blonde-coloured hair in it, but here is a guy who couldn’t be ugly or unattractive if he tried, so it’s all good. I love his million-dollar smile and his instantly recognisable Tom Cruise laugh, too. Oh, who am I kidding? Clearly, I just worship the ground he walks on, full stop.

Okay. Now that we’ve discussed the stuff that really matters, let’s get on with reviewing the movie. I enjoyed it immensely. Brad Pitt’s Louis de Pointe du Lac is a rich young plantation owner, and a man who is tired of life- life in late eighteenth-century New Orleans, that is- after the deaths of his wife and baby in childbirth.

This makes him the perfect victim in the eyes of Lestat de Lioncourt, Tom Cruise’s wildly charismatic vampire, who swoops in opportunistically and turns Louis into a creature of the night like himself.

The two male vampires live together in Louis’ lush plantation and terrorise the slaves with their weird habits, ungodly hours, unbridled womanising and the fact that they don’t eat people food or drink people drinks. They just drink… blood.

Lestat drinks human blood, naturellement, like any normal self-respecting vampire of this or any other era. Louis, however, refuses to chow down on the blood of humans, believing that it’s wrong- well, strictly speaking, it is– and will only kill assorted vermin and poultry (much to Lestat’s amusement) in order to keep himself alive. Ooops, I mean un-dead. Ah, you know what I mean.

Until he meets Kirsten Dunst’s Claudia, that is, a beautiful orphaned ten-year-old child (in the book, she’s only five) whom he is encouraged by Lestat to bring over to the dark side with them.

Why encouraged? Well, because Lestat fears losing Louis as his companion for the eternities to come, as Louis is not as enamoured or, a better word, accepting, of the vampire lifestyle as Lestat is. Louis doesn’t make the best of it and has a sour puss on him virtually the whole way through the movie.

Lestat, therefore, thinks that the arrival of their pretty little ‘daughter’ Claudia into their eccentric little household will help to cement their relationship. Just like an ordinary human woman- or man- might think that a baby will paper over the cracks in her/his marriage. Aw, it’s so sweet, the way that the un-dead think they’re people…

Anyway, this turns out to be, shall we say, not the best idea Lestat’s ever had. Though the three of them rub along perfectly happily together for years (just look at the cute way she cuddles up to Brad Pitt in his coffin), Claudia ultimately resents the way that she had no choice or say in the whole being turned into a vampire thing and she eventually begins to harbour murderous thoughts towards Lestat, the ‘maker’ of both her and poor gormless Louis. It’s okay, though. You can’t kill the un-dead. Or can you…?

Just to add that the European trip reveals a sick decadence even beyond the way in which life in eighteenth-century New Orleans is decadent, and has catastrophic results for all concerned.

I like Antonio Banderas as Armand, with his Cher wig and whispery voice, and Stephen Rea as Santiago is positively cruel and evil and makes Joel Grey as the M.C. in CABARET look like harmless old Uncle Gaybo hosting the Late Late Show. He’s so evil, he gives you the chills.

The functional framing device of the film sees Brad Pitt as Louis telling his story to Christian Slater’s reporter in modern times. He really opens up to the journalist, giving a warts-and-all portrayal of his life since being turned into a vampire by Lestat in 1791.

Kirsten Dunst turns in a phenomenal performance as the pretty, ringleted Claudia, given that she was only about twelve years old at the time of filming. If children are supposed to take after their ‘parents,’ then she embodies a mash-up of the love of knowledge and all things cultural bestowed upon her by her beloved Daddy Louis, undoubtedly her favourite parent, and the cold, detached cruelty and carelessness of human life given her by her Daddy Lestat.

The film has whores and boobies and the plague and cemeteries in it as well. And, while I still prefer my Eastern European vampires and the ‘mitt-Europe’ locations favoured by Hammer horror films, there’s a lot to be said for the vampires of eighteenth-century New Orleans as well, for whom swamps and alligators could prove either a blessing or a curse.

It’s sultry and steamy there. You can feel the heat hanging over the Louisiana Bayou and the call of the night is strong and pulsating, like the initial heartbeat of a healthy victim. Answer it if you dare…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.