223. Interview with the Vampire

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Movie: Interview with the Vampire

Release Date: November 11, 1994

Director: Neil Jordan

Starring: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Stephen Rea, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, Kirsten Dunst.

Tag Lines: “Drink From Me And Live Forever.”

Relevance: In 1994 I was attending Graduate school getting my Master’s degree in Theater. Although I kept up with movie new releases and did see some in theaters, it was a rare occasion. I was more of a renter at the time. I of course knew about ‘Interview with the Vampire,’ but my knowledge at the time was quite limited. I knew it was a novel. I knew people, including Anne Rice the author of the novel, were outraged about the casting of Tom Cruise. I also knew Oprah Winfrey didn’t like the movie and walked out of an LA screening within the first 20 minutes. She was not a fan of horror films and was disturbed by its violence. I know this because she interviewed Tom Cruise and told him. But that was the extent of my knowledge of the film. Little did I know that once I did see the movie, it would become a part of my life for decades.

The film was a box office success and received generally favorable reviews from critics. Even Anne Rice, after seeing the film, changed her mind about its star, Tom Cruise, complimenting his performance and apologizing for her premature critique. So it was a no-brainer that as soon as it was available for rental, I would watch it to see what all the hubbub was about. Right from the opening scene of the San Francisco skyline, I was hooked. I loved the characters, the story, the acting and directing. Yes, it was a violent horror film, but for me, that’s not a deterrent. I am a fan of the genre.

I was already a fan of Tom Cruise by the time I saw ‘Interview with the Vampire.’ This is his third film on my list of most influential movies of all time with one more to go later this year. (Check out 335. Born on the Fourth of July and 263. Top Gun for his first two appearances.) His performance as Lestat only solidified what I already thought, the man is a talented actor. I was aware of Brad Pitt at the time thanks to his small but extremely memorable (and hot) role in ‘Thelma and Louise,’ but I wouldn’t have considered myself a fan so to speak. That changed after this movie. Despite him getting beat up a bit by critics for his performance, I thought he was absolutely fantastic as Louis de Pointe du Lac. He has become one of my favorite actors of all time. This is his second of five films as part of this project. (See 304. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for the first.) For me, the two actors made a very memorable pair on film.

Like many times before in my life, art led me to more art. I was so intrigued by the movie, I purchased it on VHS as soon as I could and bought the novel by Anne Rice of which the movie was based. I absolutely adored it. I fell more deeply in love with the story and its characters and as soon as I finished reading it I ran out to the book store to purchase book number two. That trend continued until I finally caught up with all of the previously published books. Then I just anxiously awaited the release of a new story in The Vampire Chronicles. It has become one of my favorite book series of all time maybe only out favorited by the Harry Potter series.

‘Interview with the Vampire’ is one of those films that I have seen so many times it is too difficult to count. I now own the DVD but will still watch it periodically when it shows up on TV or one of the various streaming services. Do I love the novels more? Perhaps. But I never try to compare the two as they are different art forms. The film does a great job of capturing the essence and overall world of the books and that is all I really ask for in an adaptation. The film in my opinion does just that and is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. Take that, Oprah.

Today’s Thoughts: “I assume I need no introduction.”

The vampire Lestat has become one of my favorite literary characters of all time right up there with Holden Caulfield. (What a pair those two would make!) So I was very excited to visit an old friend again today when I watched ‘Interview with the Vampire.’

What I realized about this film today is that my feelings for the characters, story and movie itself have not changed one bit since my first viewing. I love it. Beautifully directed by Neil Jordan, ‘Interview with the Vampire’ is an epic horror film with gorgeous sets, costumes, stunning visuals and overall great acting. I still stand by Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt’s performances. The rest of the cast is equally impressive including Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea and Christian Slater. I have to say though that watching Kirsten Dunst as Claudia was my favorite part about it today. Although not her film debut, it had to have been her breakthrough performance. She was so deliciously good in this role. She has matured into a fantastic actress as her resume suggests and you could see why by watching this performance.

Purists of the novels may not hold this film in as much high regard as I do. And that is fine. We are all allowed our opinions. I am a huge fan of the The Vampire Chronicle novels and I am a huge fan of the movie, ‘Interview with the Vampire.’ Watching it today makes me want to re-read the entire series. I might just do that now that I have the extra time. If I do, when I am finished I will probably just end up watching this film again. However I will not be watching ‘The Queen of the Damned’ film that was released in 2002. In my humble opinion, it is not very good at all, which saddens me because it is one of my favorite books in the series. I’ll just stick to this 1995 classic.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Elliot Goldenthal (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Kirsten Dunst (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, Elliot Goldenthal (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Philippe Rousselot (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Dante Ferretti (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Sandy Powell (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up/Hair, Stan Winston, Michele Burke, Jan Archibald (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography, Philippe Rousselot.

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Cinemax, DVD Availability.

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