Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

US movie (1994). Geffen/Warner. Pr David Geffen, Stephen Woolley. Dir Neil Jordan. Spfx Yves de Bono, Stan Winston. Mufx Shane Mahan, John Rosengrant, Winston. Vfx Bob Legato. Screenplay Anne Rice. Based on Interview with the Vampire (1976) by Rice. Starring Antonio Banderas (Armand), Tom Cruise (Lestat), Kirsten Dunst (Claudia), Brad Pitt (Louis), Stephen Rea (Santiago), Christian Slater (Malloy). 122 mins. Colour.

Freelance journalist Malloy lures (or is lured by) Vampire Louis, who gives him an extended autobiographical interview, beginning with his being vampirized in 1791 as a young plantation owner near New Orleans. The vampire responsible is Lestat, whose wild amorality contrasts with Louis's own qualms about killing humans: Louis subsists largely on rats and chickens as Lestat urges him instead to murder. At last, in a plague-ridden area of New Orleans, Louis feeds on orphaned child Claudia, whom Lestat then vampirizes. The trio prey on New Orleans for decades, with the girl as their "daughter", but Claudia tires of eternal childhood and at last "kills" Lestat, with Louis's aid. She and Louis flee to Europe, where after decades they come to Paris and are discovered by the Théâtre des Vampires, a group of vampires who thrive by pretending to be actors playing vampires in a Grand Guignol theatre. Their leader, Armand, sees Louis as the vampiric encapsulation of the New Age; but Claudia has committed the sole capital crime of vampiric society – destroying a vampire – and so is herself destroyed by the rest of the Théâtre. Louis wreaks revenge. Back in New Orleans at last, he discovers the cinema, and at last can watch sunrise – denied to him in reality. But then he finds Lestat surviving in tatters in an old cemetery, afraid to move because he has never realized the electric lights of the modern night present no threat.

This long and frequently gory movie seems uncertain whether to glamorize its subject or show its inevitable squalidness; it seems to wallow confusedly in a mire of plotting errors and camp Decadence. Yet it has some strengths: Pitt and Cruise sustain the teasing homoeroticism of their relationship well, and Dunst (aged 12 at the time of filming) is quite magnificent as the psychopathic full-grown woman locked up in a child's body. But at the end, as the scene slowly fades to the strains of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil", we realize that IWTV is no more than this: a seductive, cleverly crafted but ultimately meaningless rock video. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.