First up, the book
For fans of the supernatural, Interview with the Vampire is a classic in vampire tales. I think after Dracula, Interview with the Vampire might be the most popular… well, before 2000 perhaps. For the last sixteen years plus, there has been a plethora of vampire tales in a variety of mediums.
So in the midst of vampire overload, does Interview with the Vampire hold up?
So our main vampire, who is being interviewed by a journalist, is Louis. His tale begins in 1791, when he was turned into a vampire by Lestat. The book spans over two hundred years, but the focus is the first hundred and Louis’ relationship with Lestat and Claudia (vampire child!).
Lestat and Louis were the birth of the vampire stereotypes that we still see today. From Angel and Spike (Buffy!), to Damon and Stefan (Alana!), to Bill and Eric (Sookeh!), we have seen many modern renditions of their conflict. Honestly the only major difference is a lack of a love interest to fight over (I don’t count Claudia because Ewww). Edward from the Twilight books is Louis in 2008 clothing, carrying the same self-hatred and moodiness.
Louis is the vampire who is ruled by guilt and eats the blood of animals because he can’t accept his true nature. Jesus, they both even have creepy relationships with younger girls (though I think Louis wins that yuck show). This type of vampire character has a place in the universe, but I think Rice’s downfall was thinking Louis was interesting enough to be the narrator.
I didn’t find Interview with the Vampire bad, I just found it incredibly boring. I fell asleep a couple of times in the first hundred pages, and nothing truly exciting happens until a hundred and forty pages in. I was in agony trying to push forward.
Louis should not have been the lead, but a secondary character. A hundred pages could have easily been cut from this book because of how much Louis goes on about nothing. And even when he is talking about interesting events, the way they are described is lackluster.
Lestat and Claudia are definitely the more interesting characters, but even Louis’ narrative sucks the joy out of Lestat. Lestat just comes off as an angry child, but from what I’ve seen in the movie, this character could have been a lot of fun. Speaking of the movie…
Now for the movie
Confession: I’ve seen the movie before, buuuut I was eight. So I don’t remember anything other than Tom Cruise’s wig and teeth and that it was the first time I saw a naked woman on TV. Needless to say, I probably saw many movies as a child that I shouldn’t of (The Shining at ten… didn’t sleep that night).
As an overall experience, I enjoyed the movie far more than the book. Which leads me to a theory. I think movie adaptations usually do better when the book should have been shorter.
Adaptations usually fail when a book with intricate mythology is packed into two hours. The movies are then just filled with fast and confusing exposition that only die-hards can understand.
Interview with the Vampire, on the other hand, should have been a short story, and the movie is able to mine the best parts of the book and leave the dead weight behind. Along with great performances from A-list actors, I found the movie to be a great campy ride.
There’s a scene where Tom Cruise, in blonde wig and big teeth, dances with a half-rotten corpse while singing opera. Ah-mazing.
Personally, I think people should skip the book, watch the movie first, and then if you’re interested read the other books in the series. After some research, I’ve read that Rice’s writing gets better (and probably more entertaining) after Interview with the Vampire.
I would only recommend the book if you prefer the niceties of Edward, Bill, and Stefan. I just don’t want philosophical monologues in my campy vampire books.
In The Margins:
- Geez, I forgot to mention that Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, and Christian Slater were in the movie too. Cruise just stole the show for me. (Serious props to Dunst though).
- Next Week: It’s time to get nostalgic with Goosebumps. Will my I roll my eyes at my ten year self’s taste? Reader Beware, You’re in for a Scare!