If there was ever a film that required a high-def transfer to show off its opulence and gothic grandeur, it’s Neil Jordan’s homo-erotic vampire masterpiece. Based, of course, on Anne Rice’s books, the film is a tour-de-force for all the leading characters, with Cruise stealing the show as Lestat, the party loving vamp, and for those with a long memory who can remember back when the film was first released in cinemas, he proved doubters and critics wrong with one of his finest performances. Not that the rest of the cast should be overlooked as both Brad Pitt and Antonio Banderas put in fantastic performances, and while it is Cruise’s vehicle, he nearly has the spotlight taken away from him by a very creepy performance from a young Kirsten Dunst.
It is not only the work of this fantastic ensemble cast that makes the film, but also the effort all round that went into the production of the film. And really for the first time since maybe seeing the movie at the cinema, the sheer amount of detail that went into every dinner plate, dress, bodice, velvet jacket and ruffled cuff can be seen. Presented in 16×9 1:85:1 this transfer/upscale (more on that later) takes up every millimetre of your screen with deep colours, textures and grand gothic detail and, even when there is a lot of movement or a lot of deep blacks, holds together very well indeed.
Being a fan of the late great Stan Winston, I was interested to see how the subtle vampire make-up design would transfer across. Would the veins, translucent skin and pale demeanour look as good as it should? Well, rest assured; the great man’s work still, nearly fifteen years on, looks superb – every tiny corpuscle, artery, and sickly pale vein can be seen in crystal clarity, with the quality giving the vamps near translucent skin qualit. It’s a whole new level of subtlety that is described in both the book and the film and, up until now, never really shown.
Its not just Winston’s work that is enhanced by this transfer. Every set designer should take a little credit for the amount of work put into the film. From the manor houses and seedy streets of New Orleans to the catacombs of Paris, which even when on fire look superb, with no pixelation whatsoever, the whole film looks just gorgeous.
However, before you go and rush out and buy this, there is a large ‘but’ looming. After watching the film I flicked through the special features and found myself watching a half hour documentary called ‘In the Shadow of the Vampire’ which I was sure I had seen before. This piqued my interest, and after a bit of rummaging, I found my old DVD version of the film and surprise, surprise the documentary was on this as well. Then it dawned; it seems that WB have gone the cheapskate way for this release, and have only produced an upscale re-release of their last 2002 DVD version as, not only was the documentary the same, but also the commentary track and bare bone extras.
This is also true audio-wise. The film is in 5.1, which is surprising as a lot of new releases are now being remixed to 7.1. That is not to say the film doesn’t sound great as it strands, from the tinkling period pianos right through the Rolling Stones at the end of the movie, the mix is adequate. But this also hasn’t been altered since the DVD release nearly six years ago.
Interview is by no means a bad film. In fact, it is one of the best vampire films of the past twenty years, (up there with Near Dark and Lost Boys), but I feel that this cut/copy/paste from a prior release really kills any enthusiasm for this disk. Admittedly, this is somewhat of a budget Blu-Ray release; it’s a bit of a swizz to buy the same film again you might already own.
With little effort, this release really does emphasise the problem that a lot of people have expressed with both HD and Blu-ray releases, which is lazy studios just releasing back catalogues of films on this new format without either utilising the technology and just directly porting films across from DVD format. What makes it worse is really this is just taking cash off fans, already reluctant to make the jump to Blu-ray, for something they’ve pretty much already got.