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‘Interview with the Vampire’ is the must-watch vampire adaptation this Halloween season
AMC

31 Days of Halloween

‘Interview with the Vampire’ is the must-watch vampire adaptation this Halloween season

A deeply resonant update to the beloved series that shows why adapting stories well makes them shine brighter.

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

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It’s easy for book-to-screen adaptations to leave audiences wanting more – and not in a good way. Even after all of the clamor for favorite characters and stories to be shown on screen, adaptations often don’t capture the true essence of their source material. A couple of these include the Percy Jackson films, The Giver, The Dark Tower, among a litany of mediocre adaptations that Hollywood has pumped out over the years.

The 1994 Interview with the Vampire film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt was, in a way, one of these lackluster adaptations. The story adapts author Anne Rice’s novel of the same name which sees the fallout from vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Cruise) turning Louis de Pointe du Lac (Pitt) told through a present-day interview with Louis.

Despite it being named a critical and commercial success, winning numerous awards, and becoming a cult classic, it fell short of depicting Anne Rice’s vision with the thoughtfulness it deserved. From corporate casting control to surppressing the novel’s queerness, to the lack of Rice’s nuance and depth according to critics, Interview with the Vampire seemed to be hampered by its ability to thrive in 1994 Hollywood.

Interview with the Vampire 1994

Warner Bros.

2022’s Interview with the Vampire television show on AMC and AMC+ tells a different story. Notably, Louis and Lestat are explicitly in a romantic relationship. Because of this open portrayal, the show plays with ideas of queer horror so naturally through themes of belonging, forbidden love, and otherness. Vampires are ripe with queer allegory, following suit of other modern, queer vampire shows like the Carmilla webseries and What We Do In the Shadows.

Yet it’s not all rainbows and happy endings as the series is predominately set in the 1910s. Lestat’s actor Sam Reid summed this sentiment up nicely in an interview with The Wrap, noting that “it’s built within [vampires’] DNA to be yearning for love.” Is not the horror of being queer not being able to love in full?

Interview with the Vampire also updates Louis’ backstory and identity with care, taking the white-plantation-owner identity of the original narrative and naturally fleshing it out with modern allowances by making Louis Creole. It does this without harping on a white gaze or traumatic racism but still addresses its realities in the period without taking away from the trajectory of the story. These aspects around identity truly bring Anne Rice’s vision to life as her vampires were a “metaphor for lost souls” (as stated to Time in a 2008 interview), allowing the show to be as nuanced and poignant and fun as the novels are. 

In a visual sense, Interview with the Vampire is so scrumptiously rich it’s difficult to look away from the screen. The new setting of 1910s New Orleans is so lively and lavish in color and atmosphere that it feels like it’s a character in itself. Lead actors Reid, Jacob Anderson (Louis), and Bailey Bass’ (Claudia) character work is a masterclass in subtlety and expression with a gnawing unnerve. The show also isn’t afraid to shy away from the gorier and more violent visuals but doesn’t solely rely on them for horror or shock, relying more on the reality of vampirism and human nature for the chills. 

‘Interview with the Vampire’ is the must-watch vampire adaptation this Halloween season

AMC

Being on the small screen may allow Interview with the Vampire a bit more flexibility with fleshing out the story, appropriate casting, and the exploration of certain themes. However, these changes feel like they’re more coming from a place of care and attention than medium. Part of this was having Anne Rice as an executive producer on the show. Bringing in the actual creators of a story to adapt is always what makes the translation from book to screen so natural, similar to the recent, successful Neil Gaiman-produced The Sandman adaptation or the upcoming Rick Riordan-produced Percy Jackson series. 

The unfortunate passing of Anne Rice during the creation of the show would then presume to halt this authenticity, however, in an AMC behind-the-scenes video creator/writer Rolin Jones said he metaphorically “always [tries] to put Anne in the room” and executive producer Mark Johnson emphasized that the core of her story is something that cannot be changed. Even something as simple as having the episode titles be direct lines from the novel separates this show from other hasty adaptations and shows that the people bringing it to life care about its creation.

‘Interview with the Vampire’ is the must-watch vampire adaptation this Halloween season

AMC

If you’re worried about not having read the novel, don’t. The acting, set design, sound design, and the incredible allure emanating from the show makes any spoilers you could get null and void. Someone could tell me the whole plot and trajectory of the show but it still wouldn’t ruin the experience because of how rich in emotion the show is, which is rare in these days of easy profit over compelling storytelling. There are also enough changes made that reading the original Interview with the Vampire story will be a wholly unique experience. 

Without the changes made to the characters and story, Interview with the Vampire would feel trapped in time. It’s not about being “representative” or “inclusive” or any other buzzwords that have lost their meaning, it’s about bringing Anne Rice’s story of love, humanity, and belonging to life so that it resonates with today’s audience. It’s about capturing the vivid emotion felt in a different medium so that newcomers and fans alike can experience it in full in all its radiance. It’s for the survival of significant stories. 

Interview with the Vampire was already renewed for a second season ahead of its premiere, showing how much faith AMC has in its vision. With its sister show Mayfair Witches premiering early next year and 13 novels of source material to dive into, there’s also no shortage of Anne Rice material to explore. Three out of seven episodes are left to premiere on AMC/AMC+ each Sunday as of this writing, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into them. If you want more, you shouldn’t either. 

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