What Interview With The Vampire Gets Right About Adapting Anne Rice's Work

When people talk about the writing of the late author Anne Rice, they usually focus on sensuous prose and bold sexuality. Her early erotic fiction under a pseudonym is often discussed, and most people describe her "Vampire Chronicles" as sexy more than scary. What people fail to mention is that the woman was capable of describing horrific acts of violence just as artfully as she did moments of ecstasy or beauty; in fact, she may have been even better at the blood and guts. There are moments in Rice's books that have burned into my memory as surely as the goriest gag from the most brutal horror movie because her ability to paint a picture with words was among the greatest of all time. 

The new AMC "Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire" series makes a lot of big changes to its source material, but manages to keep the soul of Rice's work intact through its beautiful exploration of the novel's themes while making plenty of references for hardcore fans. Thankfully, it's also much more violent than the 1994 Neil Jordan film adaptation of "Interview with the Vampire," which featured a bit of blood but was relatively toothless for a story about vampires. The AMC series is gorgeously grotesque, with some scenes guaranteed to shock even the most hardened horror aficionado, and that's how it should be. 

It's called the savage garden for a reason

The vampire Lestat's (Sam Reid) name for the earth is "the savage garden," highlighting the idea that the world is both beautiful and bestial. It's survival of the fittest, and vampires are at the very top of the food chain. They're predators without equal, and since they feed on blood, it's basically a guarantee that their story will be very bloody. In Rice's novels, the bloodlust is written with the same kind of fervor as the human lust for sex, which leads to descriptions of nearly intoxicating violence like the following from the third novel in the series, "The Queen of the Damned": 

"She ripped the head half off the neck, staring at the white bones of the broken spinal cord, then swallowing the death instantly with the violent spray of blood from the torn artery. But the heart, the beating heart, she would see it, taste it. She threw the body back over her right arm, bones cracking, while with her left hand she split the breast bone and tore open the ribs, and reached through the hot bleeding cavity to pull the heart free." 

Rice's vampires were truly monstrous, and she never let her readers forget that. They could be sexy and sympathetic and very easy to love, but they were also beastly by their very nature. Vampire fiction has long danced on the lines between sex and violence, but the bloodsuckers of the secret garden are positively thirsty in every sense of the word. For them, violence is a kind of sex. 

Bold, bloody, and beautiful

Regardless of how you feel about the series (you can read our review here), it's impossible to deny just how beautifully the bloodshed is choreographed. The vampires leap with preternatural grace, dancing a delicate ballet of death that is as mesmerizing as it is horrifying. This is the genius of vampire fiction writ large, combining the intoxicating promise of immortality with beautiful, charming monsters. There's something extra scary about a monster that's stunningly gorgeous to look at, with the ability to literally charm the pants off of anyone they choose, and both Rice and the team behind the series embrace this unique fear with an intense appreciation. 

Most of the sequences of violence in "Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire" are related to the vampires feeding in some way or another, and the brutality of their kills can rival any lion ripping apart a zebra on the Serengeti. Even the softest and sweetest of the vampires can rip off a grown man's jaw and toss it aside like yesterday's news, and the show doesn't shy away from showing every second of that destruction. The series may have made some changes to its characters and a few plot points, but its blood and gore would be guaranteed to make Rice proud. Here's hoping they can up the ante even more in season 2

The first season of "Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire" is available to stream on AMC+.