Film Review: Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Also known as: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (full title)
Release Date: November 9th, 1994 (Westwood premiere)
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Written by: Anne Rice
Based on: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Music by: Elliot Goldenthal
Cast: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, Stephen Rea

Geffen Pictures, Warner Bros., 122 Minutes

Review:

“The world changes, we do not, there lies the irony that finally kills us.” – Armand

In the ’90s and early ’00s, I watched this film a lot. But I had seen it so many times that I actually haven’t seen it now for at least a decade. But that time off from it made me appreciate it even more.

This is the best vampire motion picture of the 1990s. It is pretty damn close to being a masterpiece. It is a beautiful adaptation of a book that really has become a literary classic, at this point. And it’s great to see that Anne Rice penned this script, as no one knows these characters better than she does.

There are a few minute changes from the book. The stuff with Louis’ wife was omitted and the character of Armand has a different appearance from the literary version. However, these minor alterations don’t matter within the context of this film. Had it actually gotten sequels (and it should have) the Armand thing might of been a bit problematic but I’m still okay with Antonio Banderas in the role for this one-off outing.

Anyway, Neil Jordan did a superb job directing this. He had just come off of The Crying Game, a film that earned him two Academy Award nominations for direction and script, and also had some experience with supernatural gore after his work on the barely remembered film The Company of Wolves. Both of those experiences would serve him well in this film, which had supernatural gore and also tapped into very light homo-eroticism between a few characters.

One thing that really stands out is the film’s score by Elliot Goldenthal. It has the makings of a great classical composition mixed with some very powerful and energetic flourishes that help accentuate the scenes in ways that a less capable score wouldn’t have been able to accomplish. The music also flows with the picture, it’s not distracting or in the way, it just exists to set the tone appropriately and really, that’s all a film score needs to do. But the craftsmanship of these classical tunes is what sets this film apart and gives it such a grandiose feel. There are just few scores that can make this sort of emotional and narrative impact in modern film.

The acting in this is also possibly the best you will see in any vampire movie. Tom Cruise, at first glance, just doesn’t seem to fit the role of Lestat but he was absolute perfection and this is still my favorite performance of his. This was also where I first noticed Brad Pitt. This is where his career was really born, in my opinion, as this was a turning point for him and his exceptional abilities. I could use those same words for Kirsten Dunst and Antonio Banderas, as well. Both of them made such an impact in this that it really helped to set them off towards bigger and better things going forward.

Something else that stands out is the special effects handled by Stan Winston and his team. Most notably, the scene where Lestat is withering away to a corpse on the floor. That moment was masterfully crafted and has held up exceptionally well. It looks better than the vast majority of CGI effects that would have been used to achieve this today. Also, the amazing looking ash remains of Claudia and Madeleine were made by Winston and based off of photographs of victims from Hiroshima.

Interview with a Vampire is a perfect storm. It’s a film where everything, at every level, went right for the production. While there are some other good vampire films from the 1990s, this one takes the cake for me. It’s stellar from start to finish and it’s still an incredibly satisfying experience even after seeing it well over a dozen times.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: Bram Stoker’s DraculaNear Dark and The Lost Boys.

Film Review: The Company of Wolves (1984)

Release Date: September 15th, 1984 (Toronto Festival of Festivals)
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Written by: Angela Carter, Neil Jordan
Based on: a short story by Angela Carter
Music by: George Fenton
Cast: Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Micha Bergese, Sarah Patterson, Stephen Rea, Terence Stamp (uncredited)

Palace Productions, ITC, Cannon, 95 Minutes

companyofwolvesReview:

Admittedly, I have never gotten around to seeing The Company of Wolves until very recently. It is a movie that I have known about since around the time it came out. I just never got around to seeing it and forgot about it. Recently, some friends of mine were discussing it and it made me seek it out.

I was already familiar with the gore level of the film. I had seen the werewolf transformations in other places. So from a visual standpoint, I knew that this was a very violent and adult version of the Little Red Riding Hood tale.

The movie is directed by Neil Jordan, who would later go on to do The Crying GameInterview With A Vampire and Breakfast On Pluto. He has always been a hit or miss director for me but those hits are usually pretty damn good.

The Company of Wolves has a pretty solid cast. There is Angela Lansbury as the grand mother of Rosaleen a.k.a. Little Red Riding Hood. Of course she lives in a cottage in the woods. You also have Neil Jordan favorite Stephen Rea in a small role and David Warner as the father to Rosaleen. Rosaleen is played by Sarah Patterson and she does a fine job. Terence Stamp is in the film in an uncredited role as “The Devil”. Most importantly, Micha Bergese is perfect as the huntsman character. He is magical and absolutely terrifying when the time comes.

The best thing about this movie is the special effects and the set design. Although, the cinematography is a bit weak for the visuals one will encounter in this picture. The creature effects and the transformation of the people into wolves is absolutely amazing and beautiful in all its gore-ridden glory. The atmosphere of the film, especially the woods, is mesmerizing. The only problem is that the lighting and camera work feels a bit cheap and out of tune.

Unfortunately, the rest of this film falls into the negative spectrum.

To start, the opening credits looked horrendous. The typeface was hard to read and this was only magnified by the moving wave-like gradient effect used on the text. It started this film off on a real amateurish tone.

The script was a mess. It was hard to tell what was going on from scene-to-scene. A lot of the movie was nonsensical and strange for the sake of being strange. It is worth noting that the entire film was a dream sequence but that is no excuse for allowing your picture to become so surreal that the audience never knows quite where they’re at. Maybe that was the intention of the filmmakers but if that’s so, it was really stupid. The way the film ends is even worse than everything preceding it and it makes the entire movie absolutely and utterly pointless from a narrative standpoint.

The movie is also littered with really irritating characters, most notably the awful teenage boy that was pining over Rosaleen. She’ll never go for you, dude. You look like a curly-haired worm and you’re missing one of your front teeth.

The Company of Wolves had a few positives but was greatly outweighed by the negatives. It is worth a watch because it is visually pleasing but it is hard to make much sense out of most of it.