"Interview with the Vampire" Blu-ray Review

October 27, 2008 by Zach Demeter

With Halloween just around the corner, Warner Home Video saw fit to grace us with an array of horror titles new to the Blu-ray format. Whether it’s their Raw Feed line or a re-release of a classic, they’ve certainly been no slouch this month with timely titles. One of their latest releases is Interview with the Vampire, the 1994 film starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Antonio Banderas. Although not really considered one of the “classic” vampire films, it does remain one of the most loved, with not only a unique story driving it but also a rather star-studded cast.

The undead are among us and livelier than ever when Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and a talented group of young bloods star in Interview with the Vampire, the spellbinding screen adaptation of Anne Rice's bestseller. Box-office favorite Cruise stylishly plays the supremely evil, charismatic vampire Lestat. Pit is Louis, lured by Lestat into immortality of the damned, then tormented by an unalterable fact of vampire life: to survive, he must kill. Stephen Rea, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater and Kirsten Dunst also star. Hypnotically directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) from a screenplay by Rice, Interview with the Vampire offers enough thrills, shocks, and fiendish fun to last a lifetime...and beyond.

Wait for it…wait for it…yes I’ve never seen this one either! Slowly but surely my long list of unseen films is coming to a close, with Interview with the Vampire having been at the top of my list for some time. With a shiny new Blu-ray release hitting shelves, I figured now was never a better time to finally settle down with this vampire film. Although I’m not big on horror, this isn’t even really all that much of a horror movie, really; despite vampires supposedly being scary, I’ve never found them to actually be that frightening. Sure if I met one I’d be scared out of my mind, but purely in a film sense they just aren’t that gruesome. In fact, if they were real, I imagine they’d just be a bunch of depressed, whiny little girls who walk around all night moping (if Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Interview with the Vampire are to be believed, anyway). But enough about the vampire lore itself, we’re here to talk about this film.

Considering I’d known nothing about the film, I was a bit surprised by two elements: the first being that the film is, actually, an interview with a vampire. Second there is a lot of talent packed into this film; I knew Pitt and Cruise were in it, but Slater, Dunst and Banderas were a surprise to me. They all did magnificent in the film as well; I didn’t laugh or doubt any one of their performances and it was really quite an entertaining film throughout. Usually I end up looking at the timer during a film at some point, but the only time I glanced at it here was when I had to pause it. It is excellently paced and doesn’t leave you uninterested for a moment. What really aided in this was the inclusion of the interview segments between Pitt and Slater, as it kept the audience aware of why the story was not only moving along so fast, but to also remind us about why the story itself was being told. Had this not been an interview and just a story about Louis, I don’t know if I would have been quite as interested in it as I was.
Admittedly there were a few confusing elements to the story and I became a bit lost once Banderas character showed up and what it was he was exactly doing with the legion of vampires that followed him (and then stopped following him?). It wasn’t a big deal, however, so I didn’t pay too close attention to it; in truth I just became incredibly invested in the relationship between Dunst and Pitt, which always teetered in-between sweet and just plain weird. That element aside, I have to say that the film moved along briskly and didn’t hit a stumbling block in the least.

There was one element of the film I didn’t entirely enjoy, however, and that was the music. I’ve nothing really against Elliot Goldenthal but ever since he scored Batman & Robin any time I hear his signature music cues, I start to weep a little inside. There were a few elements in the film especially that made me think of his other works and that just became more of a distraction than anything. The special effects in the film are also a tad bit dated, but that’s to be expected for a film nearing its fifteenth (!) anniversary.

Overall Interview with the Vampire remains a solid film, even if it’s ending is a bit strange. Immediately as it ended I thought “How did this not get a sequel?”, but apparently it did (Queen of the Damned)…just no one wanted to talk about it. While it may not be full of scary sequences or jump-out-of-your-seat visuals (though it can get a bit gruesome, what with swinging scythes and all), Interview with the Vampire is still a largely entertaining film. Recommended.

The Blu-ray
Arriving in a standard Elite Blu-ray case, not a whole lot about this release screams “Own Me!” There’s no new bonus features, no Dolby TrueHD track (just a standard 5.1 track here, folks) and there isn’t even a digital copy of the film included. Once again there are no menus as the film merely auto-starts, although this time we’re treated to a minute intro to the film by director Jordan, scribe Rice and star Banderas. This is presented in standard definition.

So how does the Blu portion of the disc look? While there is a fair amount of detail to be gleaned from the frames, the film is quite simply just so damn dark that you won’t ever really get to see anything truly magnificent on screen. The whole film itself lacks a bit of detail and it’s only in the sewer tunnel sequence with Pitt and Cruise do you see much detail. The period clothing does look nice, although the rest of the film just is a bit of a murky mess. It’s not a result of DNR as there’s plenty of grain, I just don’t imagine the film itself ever had much life to it due to its darkness.

As mentioned previously we have only a Dolby Digital 5.1 track to listen to, which is a bit of a kick in the pants for a couple reasons. The first is, naturally, this is a Blu-ray and with a 1080p VC-1 encoded video transfer one would expect to find at least a TrueHD track…but, alas. The second kick in the pants is due to the special edition from 2001 had a DTS track on it, so why we were given the lowly DD5.1 track over that, I’ve no idea. As is the 5.1 track isn’t bad, per say, but it’s mostly front loaded, with very little surround activity ever kicking up. There is some surround usage during the fiery sequences (of which I just realized there were three…Louis really enjoyed setting things on fire), but for the most part you’re just going to hear it in the front channels.

The extras we receive here are all ported over from the 2001 release as well. The aforementioned intro is included, as is the “In the Shadow of the Vampire” (29:43) documentary that is largely comprised of archival footage, sequences from the film and some interviews with some cast and crew as filmed in 2001. It’s not a terribly exciting piece, but it does have some entertaining bits in it to check out, although it is certainly a fluff piece in every sense of the phrase. Aside from that we have a commentary by director Neil Jordan which is actually quite good. Jordan highlights specific elements of the film, goes into the history of its production and the difficulties it went through and just all around makes for a very interesting and exciting commentary track. Definitely worth a listen.

So does this one come recommended? Not really. The video transfer really isn’t all that impressive and with it actually being a downgrade in the audio department, I can’t help but dismiss this one. If you already own the 2001 release, you can safely Skip this one; otherwise if you’re a video nut you may want to pick it up, although, as previously mentioned, the film is dark as hell and you’ll be hard pressed to pick up too much detail that wasn’t overshadowed by something already.

Interview with the Vampire is now available on Blu-ray.

 

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