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Film / Interview with the Vampire

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"Drink from me and live forever..."
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A 1994 period horror film, based on the 1976 novel of the same name by Anne Rice, the first in her The Vampire Chronicles series. The film was directed by Neil Jordan, and stars Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, and Kirsten Dunst. It was a box office hit, generating a little over $100 million in domestic receipts.

The movie's framing story centers on a newspaper reporter named Daniel Molloy (Slater), interviewing a man named Louis (Pitt) who claims to be a vampire. Molloy is unconvinced of Louis's claim until his subject displays feats of inhuman speed. He agrees to interview Louis, who then relates his previous life as a New Orleans aristocrat, and subsequent unlife as a vampire, turned by Lestat (Cruise).

Although Lestat teaches his pupil the ways of vampires and how to hunt mortals for their blood, at first Louis resists his vampire urges, preferring to prey on rats and other animals rather than biting humans, but finally succumbs to his appetites, biting and killing his housemaid. Afterwards, Louis attempts to kill himself by burning down his estate, but Lestat drags him out and they escape to New Orleans, renting an apartment together.

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While Louis continues to be wracked with guilt at his own urges, Lestat has embraced his nature, even taunting Louis by turning a young child named Claudia (Dunst) into a vampire so Louis will never leave him. Like any great domestic drama, things only get worse from here...


I am going to give you the tropes I never had:

  • Abominable Auditorium: The Theatre des Vampires is a theatre troop composed almost entirely of vampires. Under Armand's leadership, it allows the vampires of his coven to murder human victims live on stage without the audience suspecting it to be anything other than a particularly lurid horror show. The Theatre proves no more hospitable to their fellow vampires: once they discover that Louis and Claudia murdered Lestat, they have the former Buried Alive while the latter is executed by sunrise.
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  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Louis claims not to be broody in the novel, but he is in the film; allegedly Brad Pitt didn't have a happy time making the film.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Armand is described as having auburn hair in the book. In film, he has exceptionally dark brown or black hair. The idea of costuming Antonio Banderas as a "Botticelli angel" would have been patently ridiculous.
    • Slightly less distractingly, Louis' jet-black hair became brown.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the film, Louis is severely depressed after his wife dies before Lestat offers to turn him into a vampire. This doesn't make a lot of sense, as Louis is wanting to die to be freed from his suffering at that point. In the novel, Louis is depressed because he believes his actions led to the suicide of his brother, and he chooses to become a vampire because he wants to be damned and suffer for his decision.
  • Adapted Out: The film axes Louis' younger brother Paul, whose death was the catalyst for Louis' suicidal depression in the beginning of the book, replacing him with a brief mention of a dead wife and child who didn't exist in the books. An entire subplot regarding a woman named Babette, who Louis secretly advises in running her family, was also dropped.
  • Affably Evil: Lestat, at least towards Louis and Claudia.
  • Age Lift:
    • In the book, Claudia has the physical appearance of a five-year-old. Kirsten Dunst was twelve upon the movie's release. Aside from narrowing down the squick factor, this avoids the practical impossibility of a five-year-old actress playing a believable adult character.
    • Armand, a cherubic seventeen-year-old in the book, is aged up to his mid thirties and played by Antonio Banderas, apparently to avoid the squick inherent in having two of the main character's three pseudo-love-interests be underage.
  • All Part of the Show: The French Théâtre des Vampires kill mortals onstage in front of a human audience, who believe the deaths to be all part of the show.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Louis and Armand.
  • Ambiguous Ending: It's left unclear if Daniel chose to become a vampire or die after Lestat bit him.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Louis is sealed into a coffin and set into a solid cement wall. Naturally, being a vampire and thus immortal, he does not need the oxygen, food or water that this denies him — and in context, lack of blood does not kill a vampire, it simply torments him and drives him slowly insane. Or it would, if he wasn't rescued shortly after to avoid this fate.
    • This may have happened to another vampire during the time that Louis and Claudia were traveling the world in search of their kin. So for several decades, Lestat was left barely alive in the old manor, seemingly killed for a SECOND time. Instead of dying, he survives as a charcoal covered corpse that feeds on rats, all alone and afraid of the changing outside world.
  • And Starring: "And introducing Kirsten Dunst as Claudia". Her career seems to be trundling along healthily. (Although it wasn't close to the first thing she'd done.)
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The French vampires.
    • The pimp at the beginning who tried to mug Louis.
    • Lestat (though in the end he's more sympathetic).
  • Babies Make Everything Better: See below. Lestat seems to think that making Claudia a vampire will result in them all being "one happy family". It works for a bit, before being deconstructed.
  • The Baby Trap: Lestat seems to first see Claudia as the "baby" for his version of this, to force Louis to stay with him. It's interesting.
  • Berserk Button: Louis does not take well to being asked to make a vampire.
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: Inverted, Claudia is brought home after Louis nearly kills her, Lestat turning the girl as a gift. For her first meal, Lestat summons a maid to Claudia's bedroom, whom he hypnotizes and drapes over the bed for his new daughter to feed on.
  • Break the Haughty: Lestat by the end...only for it be subverted at the last moment.
  • Call-Back: Lestat once comments that all he needs to do to find Louis is to follow the trail of rat corpses. When he finds Lestat at the end of the film, he follows a trail of dead rats into the house and up the stairs.
  • Ceiling Smash: Louis finishes his interview with Daniel who tells him he wants to become a vampire so he'd have his power after Louis just spent the last few hours explaining how terrible it is to be a vampire. Louis angrily slams him into the ceiling and chastises him for not getting the point of his story, then drops him to the floor.
  • Costume Porn: Just about everyone, though particularly Lestat and Claudia, in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Creepy Child: Claudia, especially the scene with the dead prostitute in her pile of dolls.
  • Curse That Cures: Twice, coupled with hints of Emergency Transformation. Lestat offers Louis vampirism since it'll cure him of his illness (depression and despair in the film), and later Lestat tempts Louis that he can save Claudia the same way when she is dying of the plague.
  • Death Seeker: Louis seems to be this at the start of the film, outright stating that he'd "be happy to join" his dead wife and child and even opening his shirt to make shooting him easier when a man threatens him with a pistol.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Louis owns a plantation and slaves. For all his morality he's still a man of his time who sees nothing wrong with this. That said he does treat the slaves on the plantation (relatively) well and frees them before burning down his house.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: Claudia uses this kind of behavior to lure and play with her prey. One particular scene shows her sitting on a bench crying and letting the woman who comes to help her hug for longer than necessary before biting her.
  • Diagonal Cut: Louis slashes at Santiago with a scythe as the latter capers past. Santiago pauses for a few puzzled beats, as it appears Louis has missed — until a diagonal section of the rival's upper torso falls off.
  • Diegetic Switch: At the end, Lestat cuts off the tape of Louis's interview and tunes the radio to "Sympathy for the Devil" by Gunsn Roses. The song plays through the end credits.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Lestat kills a prostitute and torments a second one to force Louis to kill her and accept his role as a murderer. However, his preferred victims are nobles.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: in-universe. Louis gives an interview to share his tragic story of being a monstrous creature of the night. His interviewer completely misses the point and all he hears is "vampires are awesome". Louis is equal parts pissed off and disappointed.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Daniel utterly fails to understand the main point that Louis was trying to get across to him when he asks if he can become a vampire. Louis has just spent the night detailing to him how much his un-life sucks, yet Daniel can only see how cool it is to live forever. Louis flips out and leaves the interview when he hears that.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous:
    • Armand's stage show involves stripping a young woman naked before killing her. The camera lingers on her body before his minions descend on her.
    • Claudia hides the naked body of a woman with her dolls, reflecting her inability to ever grow into an adult.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The film both increased it by letting us see Louis' veins through his skin and generally putting us outside his own narration, and decreased it by turning his jet-black hair brown. It also turned Armand into this, where he was a cherubic young redhead (though no less creepy) in the books.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Claudia, doomed to be forever seven or eight, dresses in the best couture that Victorian fashion can provide.
  • Enfante Terrible: Claudia is a little girl who was turned into a vampire by Lestat to give Louis a surrogate child. Upon becoming a vampire, she is a blood-thirsty murderous child who lures people to her by pretending to be lost so she can kill and feed off them.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Louis is attempting (clumsily) to seduce and then kill an elderly woman. Her pet poodles, however, won't stop barking at him, evidently sensing the ill intentions of the vampire — and the noise drives him to kill them instead.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Lestat, Louis and Claudia all move through decades and centuries without aging or changing in the slightest. Interview is, in and of itself, a book of Exposition of Immortality; since it's about a vampire telling a reporter the story of his unlife and all the things and times gone by he remembers living through.
  • Expressive Hair: Claudia's hair becomes curled and doll-like when she is turned into a vampire. Thereafter, whenever she tries to trim it, it grows back the same way.
  • False Reassurance: Claudia, presenting Lestat with two victims, says "I promise I'll take care of the bodies!" Yes, theirs and Lestat's, once she cuts his throat — she's using the laudanum she already dosed them with to weaken Lestat.
  • The Fog of Ages: Louis laments that he can remember the last sunrise he ever saw on the day he was turned in all its vivid detail, but can't seem to remember any sunrise before it.
  • Foreshadowing: As she's turned, Claudia suckles on Lestat's wrist with greater ardour than Louis did, to the point of causing him pain. Her ravenous appetite will spell trouble for her "fathers" down the line.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of the vampire genre.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Claudia starts as an innocent girl, but when turned to a vampire she gradually becomes more jaded and evil while retaining the appearance of a child.
  • Glamor Failure: Played With. Louis steps under a bright light to convince Daniel of his true nature, but after a moment of shock, Daniel simply rationalises that away. Eventually, he is forced to use superspeed to drive the point in.
  • A Glass of Chianti: Lestat pours rat blood in a wine glass, but it's disgusting to vampires.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Claudia and Lestat both have long curly blonde hair, and are both evil to the core.
  • Good Night, Sweet Prince: "Good night, sweet Prince, may flights of devils wing you to your rest...." - Claudia De Lioncourt says this to Lestat, thinking she finished him for good...He gets better.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Santiago, courtesy of a scythe-wielding Louis.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: Following her Shameful Strip by the French vampires, the woman on stage at the Theatre covers her breasts and crotch with her arms and hands.
  • Has Two Daddies: Lestat and Louis become fathers to an orphaned little girl named Claudia after Lestat turns her into a vampire. It's implied that Lestat turned Claudia partly to guilt-trip Louis into staying with him due to their strained relationship. They're a happy undead family for a few decades, until Claudia finally twigs that she Can't Grow Up and begins resenting Lestat, after which everything goes pear-shaped.
  • Here We Go Again!: The film ends with Lestat attacking Daniel and draining him, then stating he's going to "give you the choice I never had"...
  • Homoerotic Subtext: May as well be Homoerotic Subtext: The Movie. Lestat and Louis raise a kid together (whom Lestat turned to try and keep Louis with him), bicker Like an Old Married Couple and just generally come across as being very intimate with each other beyond friendship. And this is only really scratching the surface. The novel is even more explicit about this, such as having Lestat and Louis share a coffin.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Louis has... mixed feelings towards Lestat, both loving him for giving him the "Dark Gift" and essentially saving him from despair and death, and hating him for condemning him to an un-life of sterility. Claudia takes this Up to Eleven towards Lestat, though she states that, despite also holding Louis responsible for her condition, she cannot bring herself to hate him.
  • I Love You, Vampire Son: Lestat, meanwhile, loves Louis deeply, even if he hides it behind cruelty and sarcasm.
  • Important Haircut: Claudia refuses to be Lestat's doll by cutting off her golden locks, but they grow right back.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Averted with Claudia, who's 5 (or 11) when she becomes a vampire and stays that way.
  • Incest-ant Admirer: Claudia for Louis. Due to her vampire curse, Claudia is stuck forever in a young child's body but her mind psychologically ages over time to that of an adult. This results in her having unpure feelings for her adoptive father Louis who only sees her as his adoptive daughther. She becomes jealous when she learns of Louis' attraction toward Armand and demands a new parental substitute should he leave her for Armand. She even calls him "love" and kisses him on the lips goodbye.
  • Inherent in the System: The psychological weight of having to drink the blood of the living drives Louis to try to commit suicide. He compromises by feeding off rats and chickens, although Lestat tries to convince him to feed off "evildoers" to ease his conscience. Lestat himself being utterly self-centered, doesn't have any moral hangups about sucking dry anyone who crosses his path.
  • Jerkass: Lestat. However, it could be argued that, by the end, he's become a Jerkass Woobie.
  • Jump Scare:
    • In the opening, Louis scares the interviewer Daniel by swiftly turning on the lights, demonstrating his vampire speed.
    • In the cemetery, Lestat lunging toward Louis and sucking his blood.
    • Later, after Lestat supposedly dies and Louis and Claudia are getting ready to leave Louisiana, Louis goes to answer the door but finds nobody there. Suddenly, a decrepit Lestat attacks him.
  • Kill It with Fire: Louis burns the French vampires and their theatre for killing Claudia.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: A prostitute is lying there contentedly enjoying Lestat's attentions to her breast until she looks down and realizes she's bleeding out from him being something of a messy eater.
  • Large Ham: Virtually every single one of Lestat's lines falls under this category, with a few choice contributions from Louis.
    • "For DO. NOT. DOUBT!!! You are a KILLER, Louis!"
    • "And YES YOUR MASTER IS THE DEVIL!"
    • This is actually a large part of Lestat's character appeal; his longer life-span in the books is often chalked up to the fact that, despite not being as tortured and sympathetic as Louis, he is far more entertaining. At some points in the books he even seems to acknowledge this about himself.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Gender-flipped. Lestat making Louis a vampire is all but an outright seduction.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Lestat seems to live the vampire life of living forever and indulging his sadistic impulses. Other vampires find it more of a burden.
  • Lonely Doll Girl: Claudia has a whole bunch of dolls. Which, while she was growing up, she used to camouflage the fact that she'd kept the corpse of a woman she killed out of envy for the woman's adult body.
  • Lost Lenore: Louis's wife and infant child, whose off-screen deaths triggered his downward spiral into depression (this is changed from the book, where Louis is depressed over his brother dying). Eventually, Claudia becomes this for him too.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: At the end, Lestat plays "Sympathy For The Devil" on a car radio. Granted he went out of style a few centuries ago and isn't looking his best, but he's still Lestat.
  • Manly Tears: Louis sheds these while recounting Claudia's death.
  • Never Grew Up: Claudia, who is stuck permanently at the physical age of twelve, upped from six in the original book.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: A major reason Claudia is the way she is.
    Louis: You see the old woman? That will never happen to you. You will never grow old. And you will never die.
    Claudia: And it means something else too, doesn't it? I shall never, ever grow up. Tell me how it came to be that I am this...thing.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Used by Louis to put the fear of God into Malloy. He explains it as superspeed.
  • Open Shirt Taunt: Louis wins a hand of poker against a very temperamental opponent, who immediately accuses Louis of cheating and aims a pistol at his chest. Caught in a self-destructive downward spiral following the death of his wife and child, Louis opens his shirt and demands that the man follow through with his threat. Instead, he lowers his weapon and allows Louis to leave.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In the film at least:
    • Vampires have super strength and speed (so fast that humans cannot even see them move), which increases as they age with no defined limit. They also have other powers like mind-reading and walking on walls, but such abilities vary from vampire to vampire. They can't transform into animals like bats or wolves, but one of them is shown to be able to fly (or at least levitate). They don't spread "the dark gift" purely by biting; they have to mix their blood with the victim. They stop aging when they are turned, making ancient child vampires possible, and forbidden to create. Their unchanging nature is exemplified when their hair is cut: it immediately grows back to the way it was at the time they were turned. Interestingly, they do cast reflections.
    • All the "traditional" methods of dealing with vampires like wooden stakes through the heart, holy symbols, crosses, holy water, garlic, silver, etc. are dismissed by Louis as "nonsense," implying that they have no vulnerability to them. They find it necessary to sleep through the day in coffins, though are shown awake indoors during the day on occasion. Sunlight still burns them to a crisp and it is shown that decapitation or bisection will kill them, but it seems that only another vampire has the strength and speed to kill one. Fire will also (eventually) kill them, but not always, depending on how quickly they act to put out the flames.
    • They require copious amounts of blood every night to survive, with humans as their largest supply. They can survive on animals, but that diet only keeps them just above starvation. They can only consume "live" blood, coming from victims whose hearts are still beating. Consuming "dead" blood from a corpse will weaken them considerably, if not outright kill them (older vampires like Lestat appear to be strong enough to survive the consumption of dead blood). Vampires in the film are extremely rare and seem to be unable to psychologically endure immortality for long (or adapt quickly enough to the changing world), the oldest one being merely 400 years old.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Louis to Lestat. Even the novels point out that Louis retains more humanity than any other vampire, and that he actually cares, which one could argue that makes his introverted, introspective tale much more compelling than Lestat, who became a rock star.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Claudia wears a few, as well as several other upper class women.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In the book Claudia was about five or six when she was turned; in the film she's substantially older, because there's no way you could get a five year old to pull off what was required for the role. Likewise, Armand was aged up from 17 to remove pedophilic overtones from his relationship with Louis.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: At one point Lestat scolds and berates Claudia for killing a seamstress after she pricked her finger... because now they will have to find someone else to finish the expensive dress she was making for Claudia, as well as his concern about never killing prey in their home( for fear of arousing suspicion). Lestat even asks her to show "a little more practicality."
  • Pretty Boy: Many vampires fit in the pretty boy aesthetic with very pale complexion, making them look androgynous.
  • Primal Stance: Before attacking they turn beastly. You rarely see a vampire stroll across the ceiling, hands in his pockets and whistling; they're almost always growling, breathing heavily, and salivating.
  • The Queen's Latin: A variation. Cruise, Dunst, and Pitt all speak with cultivated American diction, when all three should be speaking French.
  • Rasputinian Death: Lestat is poisoned with "dead blood" and his throat is slit, which seemingly kills him. Then he's dumped in a swamp, which he returns from horribly disfigured. Then he's set on fire. Ultimately subverted when it's revealed he survived that too, albeit significantly weakened.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Claudia. This applies to all vampires in general because of the 'never aging past the point you were turned' thing, though Claudia is the most extreme example, still resembling a little girl despite being close to a hundred towards the end of the film.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Claudia wants to make Madeline a vampire to replace Louis who she fears will leave her for Armand. Madeline is fully willing to become a vampire so Claudia (who can never die) can replace her deceased daughter. It's almost a triple example. Claudia either can't grow, or is growing very slowly. She asks for Louis to make Madeline a vampire so she can do what Claudia cannot, since she is physically a child.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Louis goes on a doozy of one after Claudia is turned to ashes by Armand's vampires.
  • Romantic Vampire Boy: Or at least Lestat wants to be.
  • Rule of Symbolism: When Louis discovers cinema and is cherishing the ability to see colours and daytime again, there's a shot from Superman. While colour film had been around long before it was made, it does provide a contrast for Louis, as Superman is a fantastical being that is a friend to the masses rather than a predator and gains power from the sun instead of being killed by it. Just as vampires are envied by mortals for their ability to stay young and cheat death, we see that vampires have their own personal envies.
  • Sanctuary of Solitude: Louis visits the church on his old plantation. It's a rare case of self-inflicted Last-Second Chance.
  • Shameful Strip: At the Théâtre des Vampires, the French vampires force a young human woman onto the stage and strip her completely naked in front of the audience before murdering her, without the audience knowing she is a real victim.
  • Sinister Scythe: One of the French vampires uses a scythe when playing death in the "Théâtre des Vampires", using it to cut things on stage. It is later used by Louis in his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against said French vampires, with lethal effects.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Lestat and Louis, rising into the air as Lestat feeds on Louis. Then Louis says no, and splash. Happy time's over.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Armand has a little boy that he keeps around to drink from. In the book he's killed off fairly inconsequentially; in the film he's last seen as the coach driver that drives Armand and Louis away from the burning theatre.
  • Spiritual Successor: Neil Jordan had previously directed the film The Company of Wolves based on the short story collection by Angela Carter. It heavily involved werewolves, and he intended to adapt some of her vampire stories as well, until her death made this impossible. He mentions in the DVD Commentary for Interview that this film was the one he made in place of it.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: A variation when Louis turns on the light and sits down next to the interviewer in an instant, without Molloy seeing any movement.
  • Stubborn Hair: Played for pathos when Claudia cuts off her long curly hair in frustration over being a vampire child...only for it to grow back, beautiful as ever.
  • Super Strength: All vampires have supernatural strength, though Louis' unique gift seems to be even greater strength than normal.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: The planned punishment for Louis is "Eternity in a box". He's released by Armand in a few hours, but too late to prevent Claudia's death.
  • Tainted Veins: The vampires have visible veins on their faces, too, but that was as much due to their creepily transparent porcelain white skin as it was to their veins being full of freshly drunk blood.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Louis.
  • Tranquil Fury: Louis displays this during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge after Claudia's death.
  • Translation Convention: An interesting question: Is this in effect entirely through the flashback narrative? Obviously, Louis is translating everything for Daniel's benefit, and we can assume naturally that the scenes in colonial Louisiana and Paris are in French, but what about after the Time Skip when New Orleans became American?
  • Undead Child: The gleefully psychotic Claudia, perhaps the only actually evil vampire we meet. She is aged up from ~5 years old in the book to around 11 in the movie. This does not lessen the creepy murderous child vibe at all.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Vampires can feed off the blood of animals, although Lestat wouldn't call it living; he'd call it surviving. And Louis demonstrates that the blood of rats and chickens fall far short of sating a vampire.
  • Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Louis feels tremendous shame and guilt over feeding on people, so he resorts to consuming the chickens he owns and any rats he comes across. Needless to say, this is portrayed as being like malnutrition at best or semi-starvation at worst to a normal person. Ironically, this means that anyone close to Louis is in tremendous danger of his bloodlust without him intending or realizing it.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Louis is more tormented by his ageless existence than Lestat, while Armand confesses that the vast majority of vampires grow weary of immortality and decide to embrace death rather than go on, which is likely one of the reasons their numbers are not greater. Initially Claudia embraces her "dark gift" with a great amount of murderous zeal and loves being spoiled by her adopted vampire parents. However as she matures mentally she comes to realise the long-term implications of physically being a child forever and deeply resents she will never experience being a woman.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Lestat applauds Louis and singing his praises upon finding the latter bent over the neck of a child. Louis' shame and disgust with himself is counter to Lestat's rather enthusiastic approval.
    Lestat: My philosopher! My martyr! "Never take a human life." This calls for a celebration!
    Louis: (runs off, weeping)
    Lestat: Come back! You are what you are! (to himself) Merciful Death, how you love your precious guilt.
  • Your Vampires Suck: A fantastic example of this occurs when Malloy starts asking Louis if he is affected by the usual vampire weaknesses, specifically mentioning crucifixes. Louis responds by saying he actually rather enjoys looking at crucifixes. He even describes such superstitions as the "ravings of a demented Irishman," a Take That! at Bram Stoker. What makes this ironic is that one of the only bits of vampire lore that Anne Rice's vampires abide by is death by sunlight, which is not only not part of real vampire lore, but entered into popular culture as a plot contrivance in Nosferatu — itself an adaption of Dracula.

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