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This review originally appeared in issue 12 of THE CINEMA LASER.



INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE ($40) is a reasonably faithful adaptation of the now infamous Anne Rice novel, concerning the after-life of a vampire throughout several centuries. A film adaptation of Ms. Rice's work has been in the works since the seventies, with various directors and stars attached to the project, but it was director Neil Jordan (THE CRYING GAME), who finally brought the project to the screen.

Jordan's casting of Tom Cruise in the pivotal role of Lestat immediately brought controversy to the project when author Anne Rice condemned Cruise as not being right for the character. Rice relented after she was able to view the completed film, and made statements that she was wrong about the casting of Cruise. Personally, I understand both sides of the controversy. Jordan wanted the vampires in the film to appear to be beautiful, aesthetically pleasing creatures, who were the antithesis of their true natures. Cruise is a matinee idol (read guaranteed big box office) who sets women's hearts aflutter, so he has the right look for the roll. Rice wanted an actor with a lot more bite (no pun intended). Cruise has always been the boy next door, and not the savage killer that Lestat is portrayed to be in the book. I didn't think that I would care for Cruise's performance in the film, but he acquits himself reasonably well. Of course, upon a second viewing of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, I found myself not liking Cruise's performance as much as much as the first time. This leads me to believe that Tom Cruise wasn't really the best choice for the role of Lestat, especially if there is to be an adaptation of Rice's next book in THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES- THE VAMPIRE LESTAT. Tom Cruise is going to have a lot more trouble pulling that one off.

Primarily, what saves Tom Cruise in this film is the fact that Lestat is not the lead character, and has limited screen time. The true leading role in INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE belongs to Brad Pitt, as Louis, the vampire of the film's title. Brad Pitt (another Hollywood pretty-boy) fares much better than Tom Cruise, in the role of the brooding vampire who despises the price of his own immortality. Newcomer Kirsten Dunst, as the child vampire Claudia, easily steals the film out from under her two co-stars, with the single best performance in the film. Antonio Banderas makes a brief appearance in the film; Banderas has a strong presence, and he makes a truly lasting impression on the audience. Stephen Rea of THE CRYING GAME also has a small but memorable role in the film.

Many have made a big deal of the homoerotic subtext contained in the novel and in the film. Some will see the male-male interaction as homosexual and distasteful. Fortunately, those aspects of the story have been given a minimum of screen time. Still, if one looks beyond the superficial in these sequences, they will find that the vampires of Ms. Rice's world are sexless creatures, primarily driven by their need for blood. Blood to them, is both their aphrodisiac and orgasm. In the film, the vampires only create other vampires based upon their need of companionship from fellow immortals. Mr. Jordan's casting makes it appear as if esthetics plays a large part in choice of who becomes an immortal. Mr. Jordan obviously sees the immortality that the vampires offer, as a means for the preservation of physical beauty. I guess he feels that if you intend to spend the next several centuries with another immortal, you don't want to get tired of looking at their face.

As far as horror films go, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE is a success. It offers the requisite number of chills in addition to great special effects (courtesy of Stan Winston), excessive gore and buckets of stage blood. Personally, I enjoyed the film, but die hard horror hounds may find the film a bit too genteel and slow for their tastes.

As for INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE the Laserdisc, it was quite good. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE is a very dark film by virtue of the nocturnal world of vampires, and it was filmed under very low light conditions. Taking this into consideration, I judge the transfer excellent. The image is dark, but it is stable. There are details in the shadows, and the colors appear accurate. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE has been matted to approximate the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the composition appear to be intact for the most part. The digitally encoded Dolby Surround soundtrack has a wonderful sense of atmosphere, but lacks directional effects. The Pioneer pressing on my sample was excellent, but I have heard, via the internet, that a number of collectors had a problem with rolling lines in the image. The side breaks appear ill chosen, especially between sides two and three. That break should have occurred a few seconds earlier. Side three of the film is presented in CAV. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE is also Warner Home Video's first AC-3 Digital encoded title.

Please note that Warner Home Video did not add one red cent to the price of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE for the AC-3 encoding. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE was priced at the expected $40.00 level of any three sided Warner title. Obviously, other companies are using AC-3 encoding as an additional way of jacking up the price of their Laserdiscs.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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