Vampires, am I right? I have never understood the fascination with these mythical creatures. Such is the love for those of the pointy teeth that there are some who believe that they are real. Worse yet are those who want to be one to the point that they sharpen their teeth and look for willing volunteers who will allow their blood to be sucked by those pretending to be vampires. I say “pretend” because (and I am sorry to break it to you if you think otherwise) one cannot literally be a vampire. For those of more rational minds, they have to content themselves with films and television shows. There always seems to be an audience for films about them, most of which I try to avoid if at all possible. If I must sit down to watch one of these, give me Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), which, before this writing, I never knew to have a subtitle.
It will come as no shock that the first character you are introduced to in Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles is Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater), a reporter given the opportunity of a lifetime: to have a sit-down with someone claiming to be a real vampire. The undead about to be questioned is Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt), and any doubts about his status as a supernatural creature are dispelled as soon as he enters the room. As the shock of Louis’ speed wears off, they settle into his story, first how he became a walker of the night. Set the way-back machine to 1791, to a plantation Louis owns outside of New Orleans. His wife and child die in childbirth, making for an increasingly restless Louis. After an evening of gambling and boozing in the Crescent City, Louis is attacked by a vampire. This is Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise), and before killing Louis, Lestat gives the distraught Louis a choice: death or immortality as a vampire. Louis chooses eternal life, but it comes with a price that he finds reprehensible. It is not the fact that he can no longer see his beloved sunrises, but that he must feast on human blood to survive. He does his best to consume other beings, like dogs and rats, but Lestat is persistent in trying to get Louis to understand this new situation. Things come to a tipping point when Louis consumes one of his slaves, which causes them to react in fear, and for him to light his plantation on fire. Lestat scolds him at first, but is always the seeming voice of reason, and an uneasy truce is found between them as they settle into New Orleans proper. Still, Louis longs for the things that he cannot have anymore, and does his best to avoid taking part in human blood. What breaks him of this code is when he finds a little girl in a quarter of town struck by the plague, weeping next to her dead mother. This is Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), and she runs to Louis for comfort. Overcome with hunger, Louis feeds on her, but is discovered by Lestat, who mocks him. This angers Louis, but Lestat appeals to Louis, believing that turning Claudia into a vampire will assuage Louis’ desire for some sense of normalcy. She then becomes their surrogate daughter, and they begin traveling about, doting on their new charge. She develops quite the appetite for blood as well. What does not develop is her body, which she begins to realize over time and blames Lestat for leaving her in this condition. Telling Louis that it is time for the two of them to go their separate ways, she tricks Lestat into partaking of blood from a dead person (which is apparently poison for vampires), slits his throat, and they dump his body in the swamp. This does not quite kill Lestat, though, and they find him back in their apartment. They then set the premises ablaze and flee. Wishing to not be caught in arson, they depart for Europe where they encounter others like them. In fact, Paris seems to be full of them. One in particular, Armand (Antonio Banderas), introduces them to a sort of coven of undead. Unfortunately, they all seem to have rules, and Claudia break one of them owing to her relative age. They also suspect that Claudia is guilty of killing their own kind. What seals her fate is when her desire for a companion, believing that Louis will leave her for Armand, leads her to demand that Louis make a woman, Madeleine (Domiziana Giordano) into a vampire. It seems this, too, is a no-no, and after Madeleine turns, she, Claudia, and Louis are taken. Louis is locked away, while Claudia and Madeleine are forced to endure exposure to the sun. Armand helps to break Louis out, but they are not in time to save Claudia and Madeleine. In revenge, Louis sets fire to the lair of vampires (he does seem to favor arson), kills other blood suckers with a giant scythe, and escapes with Armand. Louis then wanders about for decades, alone. His wanderings see him return to New Orleans, visiting his old haunts, and coming across a hollow husk of a vampire that is Lestat. This concludes the title questionnaire, and Daniel is left in awe of the abilities of a vampire, and thinking it the kind of life anyone would want. Louis is angered by this sentiment, and gives the journalist a brutal demonstration of the types of things he must do before disappearing. Daniel hurriedly packs up and leaves. While listening to the tapes of the proceedings in the car, he is attacked by Lestat, who, like with Louis, is going to give the reporter the choice he never had.
There are few titles I truly enjoy that deal with vampires, and Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles is one of them. I do not like it because of the mythical creatures. As stated in the introduction, I have trouble enjoying seeing somebody who has to consume another human in order to survive. What I like about it is the qualms Louis has for what he is forced to do. The reason I am so against vampires is a matter of Faith. I do not appreciate the way our society seems to celebrate the undead. Life in all its forms is precious, and this sort of dog-eat-more-advanced-dog scenario is abhorrent. That is why I laud our protagonist for seeking some alternative to stay alive. He speaks to my Catholic heart in other ways. Early on in the tête-à-tête, Daniel mentions a number of vampire clichés regarding things typically associated with their kind. One by one, Louis dismisses them, even admitting a fondness for Crucifixes. This fits with his character because he identifies with the suffering Christ, so kudos on that front. There is also the care Louis shows for Claudia. Granted, his hunger is what leads to her becoming a vampire, and her eventual death, not to mention her deadly temperament and behaving like a spoiled brat. Yet, the whole episode is the lesson that Louis learns about the price he must pay for becoming a creature of the night with an extended lifespan. Our lives are ordered as they are by God because only He completely understands the grand designs we are meant to fulfill. Any time you mess with this order, there are consequences, and Louis is forced to feel that weight for centuries. I am thankful such beings do not exist.
Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles is not a family movie. It is rated R, and has the concomitant gore and nudity you expect to see in these kinds of stories. Where it breaks with them is in essentially being a morality tale, and one told from the perspective of one who sees the immorality firsthand in Louis. Make no mistake. Louis is a monster, and he attempts to drive this point home to Daniel. Even if the reporter does not seem to see it at first, hopefully you will if you watch it.