OCTOBER 4, 1941 – DECEMBER 11, 2021
At the beginning of December, I was finishing up a week of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari movies so I said that December wouldn’t be just Christmas/winter holiday movies. That was also said because I want to talk about Spider-Man: No Way Home when I see it as well, but then… death happened. Ms. Anne Rice, author of The Vampire Chronicles, died this past Saturday at the age of 80. Interview with the Vampire has always been on my list of films to talk about on the blog, so now seemed as good a time as any, as a sort of memorial.
I mean, it was either this or The Young Messiah, and despite being the reason for the season, I prefer my magical rebirths to involve sucking blood.
Interview with the Vamprie–full title Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles–sees the blood-sucking Louis (Brad Pitt) recounting his life to a man named Molloy (Christian Slater, although the credits call him “Malloy”). Louis was turned by the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise giving the role his all) in 1791. Lestat is a hedonist and probably a sociopath, trying not very well to hide his unbearable loneliness and affection for Louis. But Louis views this new unlife as a curse, causing a rift between the two. Like too many couples before them, adding a child to the mix didn’t solve any of their problems; Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) is forever trapped as a little girl, something that starts to drive her a bit crazy. After Claudia and Louis think they’ve killed Lestat, they travel to Europe where they meet Armand (Antonion Banderas), who believes himself to be the oldest living vampire at around 400 years. But the vampire society Armand leads has its own rules and Louis has broken two big ones: you don’t kill another vampire, and you don’t turn a child. Claudia is thrown into the sun to die while Louis is supposed to be entombed for who knows how many years, but all major vampires in this are queer coded as hell so Armand breaks him out and doesn’t bat an eye when Louis kills all the other vamps in revenge. But Louis would find no solace in Armand, instead coming back to America and watching technology advance to the point that he could watch a movie that shows him the sun-lit blue ocean his missed. Lestat survived but became a recluse, afraid of change. In the end, Molloy wants Louis to turn him, apparently not learning anything from the interview. After the human flees from an angry interviewee, Lestat swoops in, ready to become the main character of the book series (and next movie, Queen of the Damned).
Interview with the Vampire–talking about the book for a bit–got the ball rolling on what we see today as the “modern vampire.” Downright supernaturally attractive, disconnected from humanity while longing for the joy de vivre they had so many years ago… It’s thanks in part to Rice. Hell, I had to actually look up in the role-playing game Vampire: the Masquerade was directly inspired by this, and the answer is… kind of? Lead designer Mark Rein•Hagen said he didn’t read Rice’s books until late in development, and at that time realized exactly how much her work had influenced the vampire media he did draw inspiration from (one example being The Lost Boys). Sure, I’ve heard The Vampire Chronicles get weird later with Atlantis or whatever, but the vampire genre I’m fond of are partially because of her.
As for the movie, I really enjoy it, but I’m a sucker for moody vampires. True fact, I did my senior English research paper on the science behind vampirism, coming to the conclusion that without magic–an element that has never been scientifically proven–vampire physiology couldn’t work. I’ve even gone as a vampire for Halloween when I was younger (and had the energy to do something for my favorite holiday) enough times that I could immediately tell when Brad Pitt was narrating with and without fake fangs–he wore them on set, and not so much in the recording booth. And I sort of touched on it before, but this is my favorite role Tom Cruise has ever done. Granted, the only comparison on this blog would be 2017’s The Mummy–a very low bar–but he just brings this devilish charm to Lestat. It’s a shame that Stuart Townsend doesn’t have that same energy in Queen of the Damned, but I’ll get to that movie some other time when it’s not a theme month.
So rest in piece, Anne Rice. Like all good authors, your legacy will last long after you, influencing vampire stories for years yet to come.
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