Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why I like Interview with the Vampire

Why I like Interview with the Vampire

1) Romantic vampires annoy traditional horror fans. Aside from taking cheap shots at Twilight, purists like their monsters pure. I was listening to the Scream Queenz Dracula podcast and they nailed the classical definition of a vampire: their sexuality is predatory. They're seducing you in order to eat you alive. There's nothing underneath the charm. That  kind of vampire is fine, but I really like Interview with the Vampire, the book/movie that is often accused of being the forerunner of the sad-puppy vampire.

2) IwtV is the first major work that features the vampire as the protagonist, and it creates a compelling one. I get that a lot of people find Louis Hamlet-like waffling frustrating, but I like the fact that he fundamentally doesn't want to be a murderer.  The big different between Anne Rice's vampires and Stephanie Meyers' vampires is that Louis has to take human life to survive. Most people don't want to die, but the question is how willing they are to kill innocent people in order to preserve their own life, especially when their instincts compel them to do so.

3) As I mentioned in the Addams Family post, there are two things that always appeal to Goths: antiquity and romanticism. IwtV is a very romantic movie. Lestat loves Louis, Louis cares for Claudia, Claudia loves Louis, Armand loves Armand. They all pull apart and crash into each other, goading their paramours to be what they want them to be, and occasionally trying to kill each other. It's all a bunch of grand passions mixed with homicide, set against a backdrop of European cities at night.

4) Speaking of, let's talk about Lestat for a second. When I saw the movie as a kid, I thought that Lestat was the villain. He killed people without remorse. He was Gentleman Death, dressed for a night out. "It's your coffin, my dear." I was a good-hearted kid, I didn't want my heroes to hurt anybody. As I got older, I began to share Lestat's frustration with Louis. Louis' problem isn't that he doesn't want to hurt people, it's that he refuses to accept what he is. It's why that "still whining, Louis" line still gets a laugh every time. Plus being Lestat just looks like more fun.

5) The big tragedy of the film is Claudia. She's turned as part of a misguided act of mercy, then forced to mature into an adult while keeping a child's body. Despite loving Louis, he will always view her as a child. And, of course, her attempt to free the pair from Lestat's clutches has horrific consequences.

6) The idea of immortality has a lot of appeal. For one thing, you can live long enough to see future cars. You also get to live a life unfettered by death. I'd love to imagine what experiences would be open to me, what sights I could see. I think I'd give up the sun for that.

Conclusion: Vampires endure because they walk the line between monster and wish fulfillment. There's a lot of perks to their condition, but it comes with some intense personal costs. Interview with the Vampire was the first time I was ever able to vicariously step into a vampire's lace cuffs. It's romantic treatment of vampirism and angst saturation did encourage a trend I don't necessarily love, but I really like this story. It takes the romanticism of vampires without sanding down the fangs.

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