Here’s a Few ‘Vampire’ Suggestions to Chew On

<i> Dan O'Neill is a fiction writer, essayist and critic who frequently writes about movies</i>

Of all this year’s films the one I’ve been most disappointed with is “Interview With the Vampire.” The book was spellbinding. It offered charismatic characters and exotic locales. In Neil Jordan, the film had a director who in the past had shown exceptional talent for capturing the moods and nuances of people caught in complex and unusual situations. It should have been a classic horror film: scary and sexy.

What it ends up being is boring. There are no chills. And although there was supposed to be a homosexual subtext to the picture, it was so hidden I couldn’t find it. The actors looked at the rats with more lust than they did at each other. It turned out to be the kind of project Eric Rohmer might have made had he been assigned to do a big-budget existentialist movie. After enduring it, I felt like one of the walking dead.

But enough about the past. The film billed itself as “the Vampire Chronicles,” so obviously there are going to be sequels. So, I’d like them to get it right and improve in the future. Here are some suggestions:


First, Tom Cruise is very good. He’s not the tall European, aristocratic Lestat, but he’s an aristocrat in his own right. He’s very funny and very campy. He brings a lot of life and fun to the picture. In the right production, his performance could work.

Dump Brad Pitt. His one-note performance was too dreary. He’s supposed to be grieving for his normal life, but there’s nothing in his performance to indicate he wasn’t a lump there too. Two-hundred years of his whining is too much to bear.

If future projects don’t give us a central character we can identify with and care about, they won’t work. George Hamilton, who brought such style and pathos to his comedic role in “Love at First Bite,” should be kept in mind as a possible role model.

As for directors, how about Roman Polanski? He’s already made a horror film that was scary and funny in “Fearless Vampire Killers.” Pedro Almodovar, another bad boy of European cinema, has an uncanny knack for depicting marginal people in weird situations.

And, if you want an American, we have our resident genius of comic horror: Tim Burton.

There is great black comedy subject matter with vampires in a new version of the nuclear family as the last party animals left in the world. Let’s see them in action in Los Angeles, New York and this time give Paris its due as a hedonists’ nightspot.

Done right, we can escape more drab snooze fests and have a “Rocky Horror Show” for the millennium.


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