My next choice for a Horror film for this holiday time of year is “Interview with a Vampire”. Allow me to preface this review with the following comment: I loved the book. While I am often stating that folks shouldn’t compare books to movies, I thought I would just state that opinion about the book so that folks would understand where I am coming from on this review. I know that this is an older film, but I thought it warranted another visit. I dusted it off my shelf the other night and began watching it.
If you know nothing of this lusty tale of vampirism, you may find it very enjoyable. It has great costumes and terrific makeup that is very subtle – unlike another recent vampire flick known as “Twilight”. The film retraces the past of Louis, a vampire who wishes to share his story with an interviewer. It gives you the entire story of Louis from the time he was a human to his final confrontation with his “maker”, Lestat. The story has some dark themes, and is truly a tragedy. Many filmgoers with have issue with the love story/relationship between Louis and Claudia. Claudia is a child that is made into a vampire by Louis and thus made immortal. The problem being that the vampire’s form never matures, while her mind does.
The tragedy of this film is that the film suffers from a shoddy cast. In classic Hollywood blunders, Geffen pictures went with star power for this film. As a Creole plantation owner, they cast Brad Pitt as Luis de Pointe du Lac. Not only is Brad Pitt clearly the wrong choice for this film, but he pulled off a better accent (if only for a couple of lines) in “Meet Joe Black”. Seriously folks, believe me when I say that Brad Pitt is wrong for this part. He is believable as a tormented soul, but not as a Cajun. The studio decided that Tom Cruise should play the devilish brat known as Lestat de Lioncourt. Ignore the blonde hair. Tom Cruise doesn’t even attempt to sound French in this, which he character is clearly intended to be (I am trying to separate what I know from the book from the film). He plays a good snob, which Lestat is meant to be, but I was bothered by the lack of an accent.
The largest travesty of all though is casting Antonio Banderas as Armand. Okay, for this one I cannot help but draw from what I know of the book. Armand is supposedly a teenage, red-haired boy form the steppes of Russia. All I can say is “wow”. Banderas makes for a campy vampire. He looks sinister in the shadows, but the wig they used on him made him look more like he belonged in a drag queen showcase. I fail to understand why ANYBODY thought this was a good idea. It is one of the worst casting jobs in the last 2 decades of film.
One of the only really fantastic jobs of casting – and acting – in this film, belongs to Kirsten Dunst in her very 1st film. As Claudia, she is both child and woman and this brings the real horror of her predicament to the front of the film. Dunst bares her fangs viciously in several scenes, but I love it when she screams at Lestat while cutting her hair “Why not? Can’t I change, like everybody else?” She looks like Shirley Temple with a savage temper. This is one of my personal favorites when it comes to portrayals of vampires.
It is in Paris at the Theater of Vampires that we meet Stephen Rea – an Irishman – playing Santiago, an Italian vampire, but he plays it so eerily and fiendishly that you forget what his name is (and thus his nationality and accent fail to bother you). He is diabolical in a sort of madcap way. I loved him!
The film’s score is a little weak to boot. It has a melancholy feel to it, which I suppose suits the film. However, it creates such a lull in the movement of the film that it doesn’t help the movie at all. The zany and wild Theater of Vampires scenes contain some of the best music.
Truthfully, you should pass on this one for Halloween. However, if you dig on vampire films, watch this one so that you can more fully appreciate “Queen of the Damned”, the sequel to “Interview”.
….and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE