By Ryan Keating-Lambert
It’s been a while, almost a year I think. A while since I’ve made a post like this. Something that is finally NOT news, festival or review related. It was getting a bit much recently and I definitely needed a break from the daily grind… and it feels phenomenal. Just me, balcony, two lazy cats and a shit load of cheap red from my local potraviny.
Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire, based on the novel by Anne Rice, is one of the few films I remember being forbidden to see when I was a kid. I must have been around 6 years old when lining up at our local Hawthorne cinema in my hometown of Brisbane, Australia – I must have been around 6 years old and I vividly remember my grandmother asking the ticket girl what was playing that afternoon, to which she replied Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, and Interview with the Vampire. My grandmother scoffed and said ‘well that last one sounds horrible,’ even if I was somewhat intrigued.
No, my grandmother did not cave and take me to see a film about vampires – give her a bit more credit than that. Instead we saw Fern Gully, and it spawned an obsession with fairies that lasted a couple of years – the parentals should’ve taken that as a hint for what was to come a decade later, but THAT’s another story.
Years later, mere minutes for an immortal brooding vampire, I was about fourteen hanging out with some friends downtown. In between coughing our lungs up trying to smoke a packet of Marlboro Reds (what the fuck were we thinking), we ducked into HMV to look at the new Fatboy Slim CD, but instead I stumbled across Interview on VHS for $15.95. That was a fortune for me, who worked a part-time job in a chicken butcher two afternoons a week (no wonder I’m a vegetarian now).
Anyway, I bought it and took it to a gathering that same evening at a friend’s place and we watched it crowded around a tiny television in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere (literally kangaroos outside). After several drinks of god knows what, with god knows who, Tom Cruise’s Lestat draining his wrist into Louis’ open mouth kind of killed the party vibe, but had virtually no effect on me (the butcher of chickens), on the contrary, I found the whole thing kind of tantalising and semi-erotic.
I recall also being COMPLETELY mesmerised by Brad Pitt’s eyes… and pretty mesmerised by him too. To this day I still find Lestat to be one of the most fascinating villains in modern pop-culture, and it’s impossible not to love the superb child performance of a baby-faced Kirsten Dunst.
The obsession began. Being a bit of a night person, and loving a good party at the time, I fell in love with the idea of being a creature of the night because let’s face it, this film made the vampire dreamy and damaged, and perfectly relatable for us, the moody teens of the ’90s and early 2000s.
I had countless dreams about ‘being turned’ during the following years of teenage rebellion. My best friend Kate and I even made a pact – should vampires exist and one of us be turned, we would immediately turn the other, and live out our immortal lives in blood and bliss… and thank FUCK that never happened because I would have been a very awkward, acne-covered and closeted vampire kid.
Cut to Prague several years and Twilight movies later and I’m watching the Czech Philharmonic and one of my best friend’s sing to a suite from the soundtrack to the film by Elliot Goldenthal, which is still one of my favourite soundtracks to this day. Few live performances have ever topped the feeling of hearing ‘Libera Me’ in the stunning concert hall of Rudolfinum. Hauntingly beautiful.
After the concert and with the encouragement of my friend from the choir, I approached Goldenthal in person to confess my love for his work to which he eagerly replied, while autographing my programme, that the soundtrack was one of his most treasured works, and that he was commissioned to come up with the whole thing in less than two weeks. Anyone familiar with it will know that he passed with flying colours.
Few films have ever come close to capturing the brooding self-hating vampire like Interview. The trashy sort of follow-up Queen of the Damned offered little more than a fun metal soundtrack, and Twilight is… well Twilight, but Neil Jordan did make a return to the vamp genre with 2012’s moody Byzantium with Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan – a very underrated vampire film of a similar nature that is well worth your time even if it doesn’t necessarily live up to its earlier cousin.
However, fans of Anne Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’ will be pleased to know that Hulu are currently developing a series based on the popular novels that’s set to start shooting this September, so keep an ear out.