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  Interview with the Vampire Blood Memory
Year: 1994
Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Kirsten Dunst, Stephen Rea, Christian Slater, Domiziana Giordano, Thandie Newton, John McConnell, Helen McCrory, Sara Stockbridge, Susan Lynch, Louise Salter, Andrew Tiernan, George Yiasoumi, Roger Lloyd-Pack
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 3 votes)
Review: Daniel (Christian Slater) is a budding journalist who is collecting a series of interviews with interesting individuals with a hope they will be published and make a success of him. His latest is a strange, remote young man called Louis (Brad Pitt) who, if he is telling the truth, is a vampire, something Daniel doesn't believe until he sees how fast he moves. More intrigued than ever, the questioner sets up his tape recorder and asks the man to start speaking, then is plunged into his tale of how two hundred years ago he used to be a plantation owner by the Mississippi, grieving for his dead family until he met a certain Lestat (Tom Cruise), who introduced him to life after death...

Ah, remember that paperback of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire? The one with the quote from Sting on the cover? Where he said it was the most wonderful, erotic and sensual book he'd ever read? And when you got around to reading it yourself you thought, that's all very well Mr Sting, but you must be easily pleased because I don't find people getting their blood sucked out much of a turn on? Maybe just me, then, but there's no denying that novel was a sensation in its day, selling millions of copies and sending Mrs Rice on a run of diminishing returns with a series of swooning horror efforts (and some swooning spanking porn, but the less said about that the better).

So it was that a film adaptation was a natural way to go, but it was nearly twenty years before we actually got to see one, and with Rice writing the screenplay herself, sort of - director Neil Jordan rewrote it quite a bit - the fans would be happy that it stayed close to the original. But while there were those who didn't have a problem with the casting, others were not so sure and some naysayers dared to point out that the movie may have been a big hit, but it was also a big bore. The main bone of contention was with those stars, with Cruise miscast as Lestat and Pitt immensely tedious and weirdly charisma-free as Louis.

However, at least Cruise in his ill-advised blond wig added a spark of campy energy to a work that took itself deadly seriously past the stage that it was possible to garner much enjoyment from it; Lestat does have the saving grace of having fun with being a vampire whereas all the others treat their state as a massive burden, much of it fuelled by Louis's guilt at having to kill people to stay alive. A chuckle is raised when Cruise squeezes the juice out of a fake rat for Pitt to drink, but mostly the first half is all Lestat going to great pains to persuade Louis to accept that he is gay like him - sorry, a bloodsucker like him, and his new partner offering us the whole "woe is me" act with added emotional constipation.

This is a gothic tale, and what would one of those be without a family? So the mum and dad, Louis and Lestat, get their own child to look after in the shape of little Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), who frankly after she is turned becomes an insufferable brat moaning about how she is a grown up in a child's body and plotting to bump off Lestat in revenge. When Cruise is offscreen, the action moves to Paris where Antonio Banderas made up as Bela Lugosi runs a theatre of vampires for discerning socialites. What we see of this is frustrating, because it hits the right note of decadence missing from the rest of the film, so after these sequences are over it's back to the moping about. Although this version has its fans, and it does look sumptuous, really the novel was where the story came to life (or undeath), and the added punchline here is made even less satisfactory by the inclusion of Guns 'n' Roses ruining "Sympathy for the Devil" over the end credits. Music by Elliot Goldenthal.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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