Movie Review: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Posted: January 17, 2010 in Movie Review, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994 Geffen Pictures Dir. Neil Jordan)


Wow, what a great story. I hope I get remembered for this instead of Heathers.
(this is called foreshadowing)

Yah! The gay vampire movie! Actually, that’s not really fair as I don’t get nearly as much of a gay vibe off watching the movie as I do trying to read the book. I say trying, because I never actually finished the book. I listened to a seriously cut to the bone abridgement back when audio books were almost all abridged, but I only got as far as Louis and Lestat wandering the world after Lou burned down the house. As you’d expect, a lot was cut from the book, but not much was changed as I understand it. I only put this explanation here so you’ll understand I’m only going to review the movie, without much comparison to the book. What I will say is that I only started hearing that Tom Cruise was gay after he played Lestat. I don’t know if it was going on before, but I only heard about it after. I keep wondering if there is some massive form of projection going on, or if Cruise identified with the character in the book or if none of that’s true and it’s just a rumor.


If you don’t talk to your kids about ridiculously foppish outfits, someone else will!
(Fop is a word for a young man more concerned with his appearance than for other matters. Fops are often seen as effeminate, because of their fancy dress, stupid for their lack of understanding of even the most basic principals of particle and overly foolish because they bloody well are. Other words for Fop include dandy, popinjay, and Justin Timberlake.)

So, the movie opens in modern day San Francisco, or at least the modern day San Fran of fifteen years ago. You can tell it’s fifteen years ago because there are no SUVs in the opening credit sequence and the people aren’t cowering with the fear that Muslims might attack or gays might try to get married at any moment. An interviewer for a radio station has met up with a man who claims to be a vampire and they discuss the interview that’s about to happen between them. A few quick cut moments, just to prove that Brad Pitt is actually supposed to be a vampire and not just some emo-goth talking a lot of shit and we’re into the movie. There is a lot of work done here to produce the feeling they were going for. Everyone did their jobs very well, my complaints are small and mostly based on the source material, which was itself never supposed to be taken for anything more than a horror/fantasy of the oyster tickling variety.

5
You know, those taste even better after the Colonel has fried them with his eleven herbs and spices.
(Colonel Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1929)

The opening of the actual story is pretty simple… guy named Louis is really, really depressed and then he meets a homoerotic vampire who turns him. You could say he turns him gay if you wanted, but really he just turns him into a vampire because that’s all he does. The gayness, as I said, was really toned down for the movie, but when you know it’s supposed to be there, you can see it. It’s not exactly hidden so much as made way less explicit than in the book. When I first watched the movie for the first time though, it wasn’t really in my mind. It was just sort of sexy and cool with them sharing babes and stuff. The movie emphasizes the overall erotic rather than the specifically homoerotic.


I am just going to hold this candle and mope until Terry Gilliam gets here and saves me from this image.
(Brad Pitt was thought of as merely a pretty boy before his performance in 12 Monkeys and later Seven. Since then, he’s proved what a serious actor he is by being in Ocean’s Twelve)

Lestat makes Louis a vampire and begins the process of instructing him and the audience about what it means to be a vampire. He will be informing Louis that he’s a vampire, every thirty-three seconds until he leaves the film. This is a movie about a mopey looser and a mean screwball, standing around talking about being vampires. As far as a movie goes, Lestat is the villain here, even if he’s the sort of villain you want to root for. Depending on your mood, you are either sympathetic for Louis while admiring Lestat’s sagacity about their vampirism, or you are completely disgusted with Louis and his constant whining. Louis is a whiner after all, let’s be clear about that. It’s hard, unless one is mired in one’s own depressive swamps, to have sympathetic feelings for a hunter who refuses to hunt. What, one may ask, is the point of being such a creature if one is too timid to actually attack anyone? Why did he agree to become a vampire if he didn’t want to be one?

6
Check out this bitching power cord I can do on Guitar Hero!
(Guitar Hero is a video game for people to pretend their playing guitar. Some people become convinced they can play after being good at the game.)

While sulking, Louis has a predictably manic moment where he decides to eat one of his slaves, free the slaves he didn’t eat, strike a blow for women’s suffrage by writing a strongly worded letter to The Times, destroy the house by burning everything including himself, sell his car for ten dollars on e-bay, and sing Abba’s greatest hits in a tutu. However, he is saved from his own stupidity by Lestat who swoops in and yells at Louis for burning down the place. The greatest single moment for Lestat is when Louis makes some typically dour comment only to have Lestat snap “Oh, shut up Louis!” before rescuing him. After this they begin a series of scenes where Lestat and Louis argue about killing and not killing. Lestat comes off like a monster, but in a way he’s just trying to teach Louis to hunt. They’re predators after all and Louis is just a whelp who refuses to hunt. As I said, it’s easy to feel contempt for Louis.

7
And when they hit the on switch, Lestat discovered why they call it “The Gooser”
(It’s an anal sex joke about a vibrator. It’s funny because people still have hang ups about homosexuality and back door action. A rather lazy writer, like me, will use these hang-ups in order to get a cheap laugh.)

Now of course, we come to the really dark part of the movie. Louis finds a young girl in a plague-ridden part of town and decides to feed on her. Lestat surprises him, and Louis runs away with the shame of being discovered. There is another discussion about being a vampire… which gets a tad tedious I have to say. Lestat is constantly reminding Louis that he’s a vampire over and over again as if Louis was going to forget that part if he weren’t told every fifteen seconds. Lestat then makes the little girl Louis attacked into a vampire, and thus Claudia enters the story. Claudia, of course, is a killer right from the word go and never suffers the sort of wimpy streak that causes one to despise our narrator so. The role between Claudia and Louis in the movie is very father/daughter while in the book I’m told it goes to much creepier places. Another point of the book being toned down for the movie. A great deal of comedy is derived from the relationship between Claudia and Lestat as she keeps eating the servants despite Lestat’s admonishments.

8
Hey, just FYI. Because I played this part, it’s gonna be a little creepy when you see me in Maxim in a few years.
(Because it was creepy! One day she’s playing a seven year old the next, BAM in a magazine in her panties.)

The problem becomes that Claudia remains a child and for thirty years and this causes some predictable problems. The three of them become annoyed at each other, then begin to hate each other, then Claudia comes up with a solution to all their problems. Granted, her solution involves whacking Lestat mafia style and sinking him in the swamps, but it does solve the problem of Lestat being a pain in their asses. Now obviously that’s not the end of Lestat because there are another 37 books with him in them, but it looks good. Actually, all the makeup effects are really good and mostly subtle in this film. The death of Lestat looks great and his return looks pretty awesome too. Lestat comes back for another fight, but Louis sets him on fire… because that’s what he does. When Louis is faced with an issue, he sets the house on fire, sets Lestat on fire, sets all of New Orleans on fire, set a theater on fire, sets London on fire, sets Rome on fire, lets Nero fiddle for a while before setting him on fire and then runs away. My problem with a movie like this, where people stand around and talk at each other endlessly, is that they tend to bunch all the action up in one place so everything happens at once. Lestat now, more or less, vanishes from the movie. We’re supposed to believe he’s dead, but since the next book is named after him, and a parade of Goths will try to dress like him forever, we know he isn’t going anywhere.

9
I feel pretty, oh so pretty.
(This is an example of sarcasm, it does not count as irony because that isn’t what irony means.)

Now we begin what I suppose is the second half of the movie, the Paris adventure and the Theater of the Vampires. Now, I’m going to take a slight diversion for a moment. The theater wasn’t as odd as it might at first seem. There was a theater in Paris called the Grand Guignol which is a place where interesting little plays were carried out. Often bloody, filled with up to the minute effects, and morality plays that often didn’t have much morality. Read the wiki article for more information, but really watching the play in the movie is almost as good. Rice has said she was unaware of the theater when she wrote the book, but that doesn’t mean the filmmakers were also ignorant. I suspect that someone knew a bit about it, or had seen Behind the Green Door. I mention that because the murder of the girl in the performance greatly echoes the opening sex scene in that movie what with her being surrounded by robed figures and all. Oh, don’t give me that look! You know how I am about historical works. Of course, I’m going to be familiar with classic pornography.

10
In this scene, there are 47 vampires. None of them can be seen.
(See the Monty Python Sketch “How Not To Be Seen” to get this joke)

There are several, huge, logical holes in the story of the theater, what with vampires not popularly being thought of as even remotely human until after Dracula, the hip and groovy Paris audience isn’t going to be that interested. The fact that at some point, someone is going to notice it’s a different girl every performance. There is also the fact that no one ever sees the performers outside of the theater and so on. As far as I know, this is the beginning of the vampire coven thing. Groups of vampires have never, ever worked for me. I don’t think it could really work, the whole vampire idea strikes me as a solitary hunter, working alone with perhaps only a mate. Otherwise, the deaths pile up quite a bit and people aren’t quite as dumb as vampire lovers seem to think. Someone would start to notice.

11
No clever joke for this caption, I just totally want that vest.
(Seriously, wouldn’t anyone want that vest? You can’t just order one online though. I’d have to buy a vest and get someone to do the embroidery.)

Anyway, back to the story. Louis hangs with Armand, Claudia finds a woman to replace Louis, but they’re both killed within about three minutes. I must complain about this, the making of Madeleine is treated as such a huge deal before it happens and then *poof* she’s dead Claudia’s dead, Gertrude dies when she drinks of the cup, Hamlet gets poked by the poisoned sword, and Louis decides to go all John Rambo, killing everyone until his country loves him as much as he loves it. Killing of Claudia doesn’t even make a hell of a lot of sense since they just sort of burst in and announce they’re going to kill all of them. It’s sort of insinuated that it’s being done because of Lestat, but it’s not really clear. I know from the audio book that Lestat was supposed to be there to accuse them, but here it’s not really stated.

12
Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance! Cha, cha, cha!
(It’s a reference to a SNL skit)

Now for a controversial statement. Once Louis destroys the theater, the movie is over. The twenty minutes that follow the destruction of the theater are just a long, slow, meandering decline into nothingness. No matter what the book says, the movie ends at that point and should have been capped there. They should have just come to the last five or ten minutes and gotten it over with on the high note. Instead, we just wander around with Louis becoming a movie freak, visiting Lestat one last pathetic time, and then we come to where the movie should have arrived fifteen minutes ago. The interviewer asks to be made a vampire, Louis shouts at him, and Lestat finds him, gives him a bite, Scrooge learns the meaning of Christmas and of course, the lovers are reunited. Lestat seems to be all better at the end, wearing a leather jacket and ready for some Rock ‘n Roll.

13
I’d make a “Baby Cart in Paris” joke, but I doubt most people would get it.
(See Lone Wolf & Cub for details)

Strangely, there was never a real direct sequel to this movie. Yes, yes, they made Queen of the Damned, but it’s not really a sequel to this movie so much as the movie version of that book which happens to be one of the sequels to the book this movie was based on. They never got Tom back, never got any of the other actors back, and Queen didn’t have one-tenth the cool that Interview did. I’ve never quite understood why they didn’t make a direct sequel, unless they felt that people would see it as re-telling the story we’ve already seen. I don’t know exactly, probably if they made it today they’d have signed everyone into cast iron contracts, but they didn’t do that when they made this, clearly.

14
Wait a second! YOU’RE THE GUY FROM HEATHERS!
(Did you spot the foreshadowed joke? Heathers is a movie Christian Slater was in. When it was announced he would be in this movie, everyone I knew said “The guy from Heathers?”)

Anyway, the movie in a nutshell…

Act One
Louis: I’m depressed!
Lestat: I’ll make you a vampire!
Louis: I’m still depressed!
Lestat: Nothin’ I can do about that.
Louis: Then I’m going to set the house on fire!

Act Two
Louis: I’m depressed!
Lestat: I’ll make this little girl a vampire.
Louis: I’m still depressed!
Lestat: Nothin’ I can do about that.
Louis: Then I’m going to set you on fire!

Act Three
Louis: I’m depressed!
Armand: I’ve got a theater full of vampires!
Louis: I’m still depressed!
Armand: Nothin’ I can do about that.
Louis: Then I’m going to set the theater on fire!

Addendum
Louis: I’m depressed!
Interviewer: Make me a vampire!
Louis: NO! And I’m still depressed!
Lestat: Oh shut up Louis!
Louis: You wouldn’t talk to me like that if I had some matches…

Official Score:
63 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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