pleased to meet you. hope you guess my name

In my old age I am forced to confront the fact that I’m basically Ben from Parks and Rec. Not only do I non-ironically think Cones on Dunshire might be really fun, but I am definitely definitely having a mid-90s themed party when I turn forty. And it was probably hubristic of me but I honestly never thought I’d get to the point where the cultural artefacts of my childhood and teenage years exerted the near mystical power over me that I’ve observed, say, The Kinks or The Beatles exerting over the previous generation. Truly, does time make fools of us all.

So this Halloween, I thought I would indulge my inner 90s kid by watching two atrocious but brilliant but atrocious but brilliant but atrocious but I will fight you if you don’t say they’re brilliant spooky movies from the mid to late 1990s. And I would love to say this was because they happened to be on Netflix but the truth is I own both on DVD. For my younger readers, a DVD is a storage medium that’s like a record but smaller and more convenient but with much less hipster chic. Basically, it’s as soul-less as an MP3 but you can’t send it via the internet.

Anyway, the two films I chose for my 1994-1996 highly specific spooky movie fest were 1994’s Interview With The Vampire (and, also, if you want to catch someone out in a pub quiz or pub quiz like situation ask them the name of the Anne Rice novel that was made into a movie with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in the mid 90s and featured the characters of Lestat and Louis because I guarantee they’ll call it Interview With A Vampire, and then you’ll get to be all Stephen Fry at them). And 1996’s The Craft, which is the best movie ever made and shut up shut up shut up.

Interview With The (not a) Vampire

This was actually a lot better than I remembered it being. Brad Pitt can’t really act in it but since Louis doesn’t really do express any emotions except anger and confusion it sort of balances out. In that regard, it’s a lot like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, Bill & Ted and, well, any movie Keanu Reeves didn’t suck in. Tom Cruise is surprisingly charismatic and watchable as Lestat, although along the same lines as the Huge Riker game that we play while watching Star Trek: TNG I now can’t really watch a Tom Cruise movie without being fascinated by the ways they shoot around the fact he’s 5’7.  Basically, in Interview With The (not a) Vampire he spends a lot of time standing behind coffins and pianos.

The dialogue is basically abysmal, I think partially because the whole framing device is that it’s an interview so a lot of it really is just Brad Pitt expositing in a monotone. And even when characters are actually talking to each other it’s still mostly them expositing their feelings on the situation. But there’s something weirdly compelling about the whole thing. I mean, it’s basically a movie about a cadre of beautiful, jaded, panromantic asexuals who are so desperate for validation, redemption and meaning that they invest disproportionately in whatever drippy plantation owner first catches their eye. And, for some reason, I can sort of relate to that. I think it’s partly because I’m very much a child of the 21st century. Only today I realised that I was ordering my dinner from a website and selecting my food based not on what I wanted to eat but on what my sense of humour led me to belief would be the most amusing thing to order. We are the fucking dancers at the end of fucking time.

Where was I? Oh yes. Falling for a drippy plantation owner. I’ve got to admit that something I didn’t quite pick up on when I first watched this film about twenty years ago is that Louis is, um, an actual plantation owner. Like he had slaves and this is a thing. Although, when I say it’s a thing, I very much mean it’s a thing “we are worried about you, Master Louis” way not in the “at all engaging with the notion of slavery on any kind of critical level” way. I’ve got to admit that this does sort of make Louis’s role as the eternally suffering, struggling soul and conscience of vampiredom just a little bit a problematic. I mean, basically the whole “no, no, I refuse to drink human blood” shtick comes a lot across a lot better if you aren’t implicitly following it up with “but I am okay with actually owning actual human beings.” And, yes, he frees all his slaves eventually but only because he feels that having become a vampire he’s no longer qualified to be a good slave owner. Which is, um, better than nothing, I suppose? Very slightly better than nothing.

And, also, when I say he frees his slaves what I actually mean is that he tells his slaves they’re free, then immediately sets his house on fire and, presumably, disappears from New Orleans society. And while I admit I’m not a historian of the colonial south I’m pretty sure if a bunch of slaves just rocked up in town and said “yeah, our master just set us all free, then burned his plantation down and disappeared mysteriously” the colonial authorities would not have responded by say “oh, fair enough, please go about your lives.”

The other point I find jarring about Louis and Lestat’s grand New Orleans adventure and I confess that this is a slightly pissy point is the sheer body count they allegedly rack up. Louis’s monotone narration informs us that Lestat liked to kill two or three a night (incidentally, and this is a fiddly vampire nerd thing, the film is unclear on the extent to which vampires can feed without killing). Now this makes for some exciting and dramatic scenes with Lestat standing over the artfully distressed bodies of dead courtesans (with his legs behind a coffin so we can’t see what a tiny, tiny man Tom Cruise is) but it does make no sense at all when you think about the numbers for a second. Two to three victims a night is nine hundred victims a year. Lestat turns Louis in 1791 and is definitely still in New Orleans in the early 19th century. By which calculation he must have killed somewhere in the region of thirteen thousand people. According to an 1805 census the population of New Orleans was eight thousand five hundred. Which means Lestat de-populated the city one and a half times between 1791 and 1805. It’s especially bizarre because Louis explicitly informs us that he prefers to feed from the aristocracy which would obviously have been an even smaller proportion of the population.

To be fair, to the film and the book on which it’s based, it’s possible when Louis said that Lestat liked to kill two to three people a night, he meant liked to kill two to three people on those nights on which he killed people. And maybe he only did that once or twice a year as a special treat although even then two or three dead peers every year gets noticed way faster than Team Double L apparently did. I mean, if you think about it, in London in 1888 (a city of four million people) the (admittedly grisly) deaths of five prostitutes shocked the nation and led to a city-wide manhunt. But apparently Lestat can just off Countesses and their young lovers at swanky society parties and nobody gives a crap.

Sorry, I went on about that for a really long time.

Because vampirism in Interview With The (not a) Vampire basically has “this is a metaphor” written all over it in shiny gold letters I can actually overlook the corpse piles more than I’m pretending I can. And that very metaphorical nature of vampirism also has some really interesting implications for the relationships between the characters. Lestat is clearly romantically in love with Louis, albeit in a messed up, possessive, controlling way and, because, as far as I can tell, Ricean vampires’ penises don’t work, not in a sexual way. And Louis and Lestat’s relationship with Claudia walks this very strange line between the paternal and the romantic, which is varying sorts of creepy depending on how you interpret things.

After all, by the time she makes her first attempt to do in Lestat (spoiler, for a twenty year old movie based on a forty year old book) Claudia is actually thirty but, of course, she still has the body of a child so being romantically interested in her is fine (because she’s thirty) or skeevy as fuck (because she’s five) or fine (because vampires don’t actually have sex anyway so even if they were romantically interested in her there wouldn’t be a sexual element to the relationship) or skeevy as fuck (because all the blood, killing , murder stuff is clearly a metaphor for sex and she’s five) or fine (because, when you think about it, once you’ve put mass murder on the table it seems a bit weird to then be skeeved out by a non-physically romantic relationship with a thirty-year-old woman with the body of a five-year-old girl) or skeevy as fuck (because she’s fucking five).

If you can unpick all of that or, at least, find a way to make yourself comfortable with not having unpicked it, it actually becomes an interesting exploration of the nature of love. One of the things that I personally have a bee in my bonnet about is that I think we (as a culture) make a mistake when we treat love as if it’s a morally positive virtue, rather than as a morally neutral one. The whole of Interview With The (not a) Vampire is essentially about these three characters looking for (and I can’t quite believe I’m using this phrase but it’s the only one that really works) love in all the wrong places. The wrong place in question almost always being Louis.

The final thing that struck me as odd about Interview With The (not a) Vampire was the slightly random Louis Is The Spirit Of The Age thing that you get from Armand towards the end. To which my only real response is, hang on a second, which fucking age is that? Was there an age drippy fops with one facial expression that I somehow missed out on? In particular, surely if anyone is the spirit of any age, it’s Lestat who—as a French nobleman trapped by his own decadence, abandoned by the Ancien Regime and spiralling towards a destruction brought partially upon himself and partially instigated by his cruel treatment of his subordinates—really does sum up the 17th and 18th centuries rather well.  In fact, strangely the age that Louis seems to embody might be one that he wasn’t actually born in. As an essentially moral man (for certain definitions thereof) from a plantation owning background you can make a reasonable case that what Louis embodies is the lost honour of the antebellum South. A man born and raised with very clear, quite socially conservative ideas about right and wrong and duty gradually finding that everything he values (his wife, his child, his mortality, his, um, capacity to be an effective slave owner, his spooky vampire lover, his creepy vampire kid) is taken away from him.

Or maybe I’m just projecting because I naturally assume that anything vaguely historical set south of Delaware is about the lost honour of the antebellum South.

Also Louis’ hair is super shiny. In the bits at the end of the film where he’s having his tense confrontation scenes with Armand I kept being really distracted by how shiny all the hair was. So in my head they were just going “Come to me Louis, and I will teach you to make your hair as shiny as my hair” while Louis is saying “No, after all that you have done, my hair could never be shiny enough to compensate for the pain of all that I have lost.”

My final final comment on this film is that even though I hadn’t seen in ages and remembered basically nothing about it I did have an extremely strong recollection of the ending sequence. Because Lestat going on the Golden Gate Bridge to Sympathy For the Devil is as brilliant as it is unsubtle. Which is to say, very very brilliant.

And, actually, this has got far too long. So I’ll do The Craft another time.


70 Responses to pleased to meet you. hope you guess my name

  1. Laura says:

    This was released in 1996? I feel old, suddenly, even if I never watched it when it was first released.

    But now I want to highlight your text and go and watch it again, so I know what I’m doing on Halloween night, lol.

    • I think I was more aware of it than actually witness to it when it first came out. I think it caused quite a lot of hoo-hah at the time because of the rat eating and the child vampire. Strangely enough, I don’t remember anyone commenting on the homoerotic undertone which in the mid 90s was bizarre. I guess because they don’t literally have sex people sort of missed it.

      Hope you enjoy your re-watch 🙂

      • Sue Kesby says:

        Actually, as I remember it, there was quite a bit of comment about the “homoerotic undertones” and I seem to remember remarking to friends that there wasn’t much “under” about it.

  2. Liv Rancourt says:

    You came very close to losing me with a less-than-completely-appalled reference to Tom Cruise as Lestat. Seriously. I watched Interview for the first time last year, because it took me TWENTY YEARS to get over that casting decision. Otherwise yes, lots to think about in that book/movie, and you capture most of it in this post. Thanks!
    And Happy Halloween!

    • Emma T says:

      I remember an article at the time about Anne Rice standing on a roof, I swear, yelling while they were trying to film cause she was so pissed about Tom Cruise being cast.

      • I can kind of image her doing that…

        I appreciate this is heresy but I would actually kind of defend the Tom Cruise Lestat. I think possibly because I was never particularly into the character – or rather was only ever into the character as the Jack Sparrow of Interview: the kind of cool, but deeply flawed person that shouldn’t really be the protagonist and certainly couldn’t be seen as admirable.

        In that regard, I thought Tom Cruise was an interesting choice because he actually looks like a 17th century aristocrat, right down to being a bit funny looking and, well, 5’7. Later casting of Lestat have just made him look a bit like Edward Cullen, a sort of generically attractive, modern dude who should probably be in a boy band. And I know Lestat does, in fact, have a band later on but he’s supposed to be a rock star, not One Direction. And, anyway, the point at which he goes all king of everything is the point at which I kind of lose interest in him.

        • Jude says:

          This is hilarious, because I could never understand why anyone found Tom Cruise attractive till I saw Interview With (THE!) Vampire. And even then I only found him attractive because he looked an awful lot like my partner C… Who is, in fact, 5’7 with long blonde hair. And had random people in the street commenting on how very much he looked like Lestat (and, in a couple of cases, semi-stalking him for months or years because they thought he looked like Lestat) for over a decade after the film came out, till he grew a beard. Seriously, we’d be walking down the street, and random people would yell, ‘Oi! Lestat!’

        • EmmaT says:

          I don’t know if it’s cause I haven’t rewatched it as an adult, but I really wasn’t appalled by him in it at all. Maybe now I would be?

  3. Gillian says:

    Like Liv, my utter distaste for Tom Cruise ruined this movie for me. Brad Pitt should have been Lestat, period. This is definitely a case of book > movie and I cannot, nay will not, ever accept that wee man in the role of Lestat. Some things just cut too deep to ever recover from and Cruise playing my first fictional boyfriend is one of them. Blech.

    Great blog post, though.

    • Liv Rancourt says:

      Right?!!!! He – and his whole brand – was so wrong for the role. It killed me, because yeah, Lestat was one of my first book boyfriends too.

    • Gwen says:

      Oh I thought they were perfectly cast. Brad’s “I can’t act” thing went perfectly with how depressed his character was. No affect. Perfect.
      Tom Cruise was snarky and wicked. And size has nothing to do with any of that for me.

      • Maarja says:

        I agree with Gwen here – although I have no great like for Tom Cruise, I felt he was perfect in Lestat’s role. Also, he looked smoking hot with those blond curls!

      • Jude says:

        Once I got past ‘This is Tom Cruise’, I really liked him in the role. Didn’t like Brad Pitt at all, mostly because his acting was so wooden in this.

    • Mirren says:

      Tom cruise as jack reacher = even less appropriate casting decision.

      Also the Craft is definitely the best film! Along with Big Trouble in Little China. Just saying 😉

    • I’m with Gwen. As I mentioned above, I actually like Tom Cruise as Lestat. And he works for me in ways that later actors in the role didn’t.

      In terms book versus movie, a movie is only ever going to be an interpretation of the book. And I think when you’re dealing with something as archetypal as, well, vampires the range of possible interpretations is vast. And I do remember responding less positively to the movie when I was closer to the book, but now I’ve got more distance and am looking at it more as its own thing, I actually think it works pretty well.

  4. ancientreader says:

    This is hilarious and I have immediately forwarded the link to everyone I know pretty much. Well, all the people with a sense of humor, I mean. Also I included a warning about not eating or drinking while reading, because Danger of Aspirating While Laughing Hysterically.

  5. “For my younger readers, a DVD is a storage medium that’s like a record but smaller and more convenient…”

    You young whipper snappers and your new fangled gadgets. I watch movies on them VHS tape deals because the tension of wondering if the tape will break and leave you hanging on the ending adds to the suspense!

    I’ve never seen The Craft. Can I get that on VHS do you think?

    • I’ve got to admit that seeing VHS tapes in stuff actually freaks me out now. Like I went back and started re-watching the first season of the X Files when it popped up on Amazon Prime. And all the clunky magnetic tape storage is really cool. I desperately want tapepunk to be a thing in a few years time 🙂

    • Maarja says:

      I… I actually have Interview With The Vampire on VHS (recorded from TV)…

  6. Emma T says:

    Before I can even finish my reading I have to tell you I unapologetically LOVE The Craft. I was in high school (I think-maybe middle) when that came out and I thought it was THE SHIT!

  7. This post made me giggle so much!! Before Anne Rice’s novels turned completely weird, I rather adored her vampire books and I also liked the two films a lot. What bugged me most about Interview was Antonio Banderas as Armand. OMG!!!! HOW CAN ANTONIO BANDERAS WITH LONG, BLACK HAIR BE 15-YEAR-OLD ARMAND WITH CURLY AUBURN HAIR?!?!?!?! That is SO wrong!!! I also remember Brad Pitt’s pretty pout (he pouted a lot in that film, didn’t he?). 🙂

    • The Armand thing is particularly weird, although obviously it’s only weird if you come to the film knowing he’s supposed to look different. There’s nothing about the character in Interview With The Vampire that requires him to look cherubic rather than, well, Antonio Banderasy (Antonio Banderous?).

      It’s also possible that they genuinely thought they were overloading on inappropriately young vampires. Like Claudia is 5 but played by a 12 year old, Armand is meant to look about 16 and like a Renaissance angel, Lestat is also supposed to be angelic-looking. It’s almost like Anne Rice has a type.

    • Maarja says:

      Oh yes, Banderas was so wrong for that role!

    • Jude says:

      I had a really hard time getting past that casting decision, too, Sandra. I kept trying to set aside my image of Book-Armand and see AB as a whole different being, but it dragged me out of the story badly.

  8. Gwen says:

    I picked up Interview with a Vampire a couple years ago from a Little Free Library on vacay. I hadn’t read it since high school, where, of course, we all wanted to be turned… but not until our hair grew out to the perfect length for immortality.

    Anyhow, the only thing that really stuck with me from rereading the book was how awesome antidepressants are and how Louis needs to get hisself somma dat. And the enduring creepiness of slavery south.

    • It is weird that there are no vampires in it with short hair. I want to say that they all come from time periods when hair was worn long but actually I suspect they come from time periods were hair was shaved off to get rid of the lice and replaced with fancy wigs. I guess the idea of a bald vampire is just not sexy. Although it occurs to me that it would be quite a good twist in a more modern, urban story. You have the skinhead biker vampire who specifically has his head shaved because when he was alive you’d cut off your hair to make room for the silly powdered wig.

  9. neverwhere says:

    God you’re so hilarious, love this post XD

  10. Sheryl B says:

    I never thought the movie was that good. What I loved about the book didn’t transfer to the screen. (Of course it rarely does). I did read somewhere years ago before there was ever a movie that Anne Rice didn’t realize until the novel was completed that Claudia was a homage to her daughter who had died at age 5 and probably why the character stayed 5 for eternity.

    • Yeah, things authors don’t realise about their own books until later can be quite weird. I understand that she’s said since her return to and exit from Christianity that she now feels the vampire books are very much about a search for meaning in a godless universe. The moment you realise that something is an homage to someone’s genuinely dead kid is the moment you start feeling really bad making too many jokes about it. So, um, I won’t make too many jokes about it.

      • Nikki says:

        But we can still make jokes about Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. 🙂

        But not Antonio Banderas.

      • Sheryl B says:

        I will say while reading the book and watching the movie I kept thinking. How awful would it be to be turned into a vampire as a child. You live forever but can’t enjoy adult pleasures. It Would suck!!!! Pun intended.

  11. you know exactly who this is says:

    did you have to look up Delaware on a map before you wrote that line. I bet you did.

    Also this was the first movie I remember seeing in the theater where I had to resist the urge to yell JUST KISS ALREADY (to Louis and Antonio Banderas). I was… probably 16?

    • it's still me, your favorite agent/troll says:

      ps I am totally inviting myself to your 40th birthday party, when it finally happens in seventeen years

    • I did, in fact, look up Delaware on a map. I needed to find a state that was appropriately far north and had a name with the right rhythm to it. And I’ve got to admit I’m not that good on US states, although I did okay on the recent round of Pointless about birth states of US presidents. So ner.

      • it's still me, your favorite agent/troll says:

        for all that I LOVE making fun of you, in the spirit of full disclosure I bought a new laptop yesterday and PERMANENTLY locked myself out of it in less than six hours. We had to wipe its memory and start over. So, ha ha, you don’t know where Delaware is, but I am a complete idiot.

      • Nikki says:

        Delaware isn’t the South. They may think so, but the rest of the South doesn’t. Just ‘cuz you say you’re in the club doesn’t mean you’re in the club.

  12. Allison says:

    I Love this so much. I was obsessed with the books, including owning, but not really reading, the compendiums. I even liked Tom Cruise when the movie was released and was flabbergasted by the casting. I will never figure it out.

    This is my favorite though, “…I now can’t really watch a Tom Cruise movie without being fascinated by the ways they shoot around the fact he’s 5’7. ” 😀

  13. Lennan Adams says:

    This is so great. I’ve never seen the movie because TOM CRUISE but I loved all the Anne Rice books and still actually think about them a lot. I can’t wait to read about The Craft (which I’ve also not seen.) XD

  14. Regina says:

    Oh, Happy Halloween. I really have nothing else to add to the perfection of the (not a) movie review.

  15. Susan says:

    Yeah the whole Claudia thing is creepy as fuck. In the book and the movie. I did like Cruise as Lestat. I remember Anne Rice did a one page ad as an apology to him once the movie came out. Drama drama drama!

    • I’ve got to admit I didn’t follow the Rice/Cruise drama that closely. But, yeah, I thought his performance was fine, especially as a supporting character.

      I confess I’m weirdly impressed by the creepiness of Claudia because it is interestingly ambiguous.

  16. Pam/Peejakers says:

    *Squee* Well, you are in fine form here <3 I love you & everything about this post 😀 And as always, now I really want to re-watch this toooo!

    However, omg, "tiny, tiny man", how dare you, you . . . heightist(?), tallnessist (?)! I'll have you know, my hubs is 5'6" and does not seem at all "tiny":P (No, it has nothing to do with the fact I am 5'4"!) Haha, no, just kidding – I mean, not about my hubs, about the "heightistness", or whatever, you're just cracking me up 😀

    And naturally, I completely *love* how deeply you went into all the stuff about Lestat's body count, and the comparative Claudia creepiness 🙂

    Oh, & your comment about love & morally positive vs neutral? Brace yourself for a thinky email from me about that some day 😉 I started one when you said something similar about forgiveness on a post at another website recently & then got sidetracked, but this fits right in 🙂

    And yes, you definitely need to do another on The Craft. I got like, two sentences from the bottom of this & thought, wait, what about The Craft?! I *love* that movie! And I also have both this & the craft on DVD 🙂

    • Obviously I don’t have anything against short people, it’s just there’s a very strong trend towards men in particular industries having particular builds and it’s very rare to see a leading man under 5’10 in Hollywood. And it is sort of a well known industry thing that they go to great lengths to downplay how short he is (especially because a lot of actresses will be quite tall and wearing high heels).

      I also might have had my perceptions thrown off somewhat because I’ve been watching a lot of wrestling recently where the “little guys” are about 6’1.

      • Pam/Peejakers says:

        Aww, I know dear *hugs* I really was just teasing you, I promise 🙂 And I’ve heard that too, about the lengths they go to in movies, to cover the fact that male actors, & Tom Cruise specifically, are less than 6 ft tall

  17. Sue Kesby says:

    I loved the books, especially “The Vampire Lestat”, always thought Louis was a wet and a weed, and enjoyed the film far more than I thought I would, but really disliked both Brad Pitt and Antonio B. – the first because he was very, very boring against Tom Cruise’s dynamic Lestat (let’s face it, the screen fairly lit up when he was on it) and the second because … well, Antonio Banderas ….

    One added thing about the Lestat/Louis/Claudia situation which the film didn’t address is Lestat’s desire to make a family for Eternity – he was advised to do this early in his Vampiric career (by a much older Vampire, I think ) and with his usual enthusiasm, went out and had a go. He just wasn’t very good, then, at what constituted a family. He got better later on.

    • Louis, indeed, a wet and a weed but I do sort of think you need a wet and weed in that kind of narrative. If only because very very transgressive characters look a whole lot less transgressive when there’s no-one around to be shocked by what they do.

      I think the family dynamic comes across quite clearly in the film, although what doesn’t come across is that Lestat is actually only about twenty years old than Louis so, to an extent, there’s no reason to expect that he’ll be especially competent at anything.

  18. Allison says:

    Also, had to come back to mention Annie Lennox’s, “Love Song for a Vampire”. I bought the soundtrack that I didn’t want because I *had* to have that song. I still stop what I’m doing okay listen to it when it comes on now.

    • That is an amazing song 🙂

      Although while we’re on vampire popsong trivial I discovered recently the awesome fact that the Bonnie Tyler hit ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ was originally entitled ‘Vampires in Love’. And was written for a musical version of the film Nosferatu.

    • Clare says:

      Yes! Recently downloaded that. Such a great song <3

  19. Deva says:

    I have never watched Interview with the Vampire, though I did read the books once upon a time. No reason, just never watched it (I may after I finish reading this blog post, because I am persuadable).
    But before I continue reading I wanted to say that I did, however, watch The Craft, which is my FAVORITE movie. I know, that is ridiculous, but I remember watching it in high school and fancied myself a witch – it made a lot of sense at the age of 15. I was sure I belonged in a coven, but I just hadn’t found them yet. I still haven’t found them yet, but I still hold out hope.

  20. Clare says:

    I really don’t like Tom Cruise, but I thought he was great in this. But then I didn’t read the books til after.

    I remember travelling from Norfolk to Minehead in the snow and then seeing Interview on a screen at a holiday camp in the middle of the night. We didn’t go specifically for that… but I think it kind of enhanced the whole thing. I was a bit delirious from lack of sleep.

    Great review. Have to have a rewatch. Omg cannot wait for your take on The Craft. Fairuza Balk is everything

  21. Jude says:

    Loved reading this, and all the comments. 🙂 I’d never considered Lestat’s improbable body count before, and particularly enjoyed that point.

    The good man / slave-owner thing. Hmmm. Maybe it’s easier to understand intuitively if you were raised in a profoundly patriarchal and racist society (which I was: all government-run schools and most private schools were racially segregated until I was 11 or 12, and the quality of education most kids got was dependent on race; all menial jobs were performed by black people and all prestigious career paths were for white people). Louis’ attitude rings perfectly true to me: I’ve known people like him.

    It comes down to who you recognise to be human. Louis is good to those he recognises to be human: he can regard himself as a decent man because he doesn’t own white people (he’d be appalled at white slavery). His slaves are rather like pets and farm animals to him, and he ‘treats them well’: a paternalistic attitude deriving from the patriarchal aspects of the culture. A sort of ‘white man’s burden’ type thing that’s as infuriating and difficult to battle as you’d expect.

    The ‘We’re worried about you, Master Louis’ attitude is also horribly likely, IME. Relatively-privileged people can come to associate their interests with those of their oppressor: some in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way, and others because their interests genuinely coincide, or a combination of both. For example, if there was a servants’ revolt in a Victorian country manor, the butler would almost certainly not be leading it, because he’d lose more than he’d gain if it succeeded, both materially in the moment, and in terms of status and future security.

    But the film/Rice certainly might have made more of an effort to explore those issues, and to present them as more problematic than they did. Which, again, may be a sign of the times the book was written? Although she was writing in the US, half-way across the world, the book was published at a time my sisters and cousins were in segregated schools.

  22. Sophie says:

    I was once in the unenviable position of trying to translate in my very basic German what exactly “Total Eclipse of the Heart” meant (just the title) to a rapt audience of German teenagers.

    As always, Alexis, fantastic post. I especially loved your calculation of just how many New Orleans aristocrats would be disappearing if Lestat were allowed his way.

    Maybe the filmmakers did mean to imply that Louis was the embodiment of the antebellum South? I think most Americans also tend to associate anything that happened south of the Mason-Dixon Line from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War as antebellum.

    I was also really intrigued by your proposition that love (and in your Pansies interview, forgiveness) are morally neutral. I definitely agree with you about the absence of a satisfactory definition of forgiveness, and even the religious definition fails to specify just how forgiveness is supposed to be achieved. And love can definitely be extremely selfish. But interestingly enough, while I’m perfectly able to admit to myself that forgiveness is morally neutral, I have a much harder time emotionally admitting the same about love, even while rationally I agree with you.

  23. Shar says:

    I remember seeing Interview with the Vampire in a friend’s dorm room, about a decade ago… although, I’d forgotten most of the plot, except for “there were two vampire guys played by famous actors, one young vampire girl…. and, um, an interview?”

    Although I’m curious, now – have you seen the ‘sequel’, Queen of the Damned? If so… thoughts? (My personal experience with Queen of the Damned involves spending at least an hour and a half waiting for Claudia Black to show up, and then being disappointed when her character promptly dies about two minutes later.)

    Also, I just wanted to say that your new site look is so PRETTY! I love the hat with the peacock feather!

  24. Milly Molly Mandi says:

    I was so obsessed with the book Interview With The Vampire no matter what they did with the movie I would have hated it but teeny-tiny Tom Cruise didn’t fit the image I had of a tall, elegant vampire. I read it as an oblivious teenager so I completely overlooked all the points you raised.
    I am a real wuss with scary films so The Craft actually had me totally spooked, I’m looking forward to what you say about it whenever you do cover it.

  25. Lan L. says:

    As usual your musings are vastly entertaining and thought-provoking 🙂 The implication of Louis being a plantation owner completely escaped me as well when I first read the book and saw the movie over ten years ago. Despite being a teenager (or maybe because of it?) I empathised really hard with the disenchantment and loneliness and despair felt by Lestat and company. That’s probably why I’ve avoided rereading the book. Some things haven’t changed and I’m still looking for meaning and love 😉 And talking about love, will we get a chance to hear your thoughts on how it is morally neutral? I actually agree with you on this and I wonder why you came to think that way.

    Also, thank you for mentioning The Craft! I’m secretly glad you didn’t get to writing about it as I haven’t seen it yet (but I will tonight!). Happy Halloween!

  26. cleo says:

    I’ve never watched this movie, and now I don’t have too :). (so thank you for that)

    I read the book before it was movie, in the early 90s, when all of my were reading it and loving it, and I HATED IT SOOOOO MUCH. It really creeped me out that Rice wrote this all these lovely, sensual words about death and murder. I think it’s why I still don’t do vampire romances. Because ick.

    I do remember feeling a little vindicated when one of my friends who loved the book said she thought the movie was much more violent than the book and then realized that all the violence was in the book too.

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