There’s nothing quite like finding a perfect new show or movie: something that keeps you entertained for its entire runtime and makes you think deeply for hours or days after viewing. This new column on the Reelgood Blog will take one excellent new film or series and provide a hearty list of semi-related recommendations to make your latest streaming obsession even more rewarding. This week’s list is about Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, the steamy new remake of Anne Rice’s iconic novel, which was made into a 1994 film starring Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas, and Kirsten Dunst.
Vampires are probably the hottest kind of scary pop culture monster. Unlike zombies, sasquatch, aliens, or ghosts, they’re depicted as charming, night-crawling lotharios who are just as much flirting as bloodthirsty killers. There’s a reason these nighttime creatures make for romance movies like Twilight more than others: there’s something sensual, mysterious, and taboo about staying up late, hating garlic as well as crucifixes, and needing other people’s blood to survive.
In 1976, novelist Anne Rice released Interview with the Vampire, the first installment into her The Vampire Chronicles book series (which to date has brought 13 novels and cumulatively sold over 80 million copies). Almost 20 years later, that novel was turned into a star-studded and sultry film starring Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas, and Kirsten Dunst. Now, almost 30 years after the film, it’s an AMC television series starring Jacob Anderson (Grey worm from Game of Thrones), Sam Reid, and Eric Bogosian. In all three iterations of the same story: a vampire agrees to give an interview to a journalist about his life as a vampire, how long he’s been dead, who turned him into a vampire, and what it’s like to be one for decades and decades. The show is replete with cuts from the present to flashbacks to 1910s New Orleans, glorious costumes, and time-appropriate set designs.
So far, the Interview with the Vampire TV series is a surprise critical and audience success story. The series has a near-perfect 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and it’s recently topped the Reelgood Top 10 this week, beating out Andor, House of the Dragon, and Rings of Power. Vulture explained the show’s appeal succinctly: “High on camp and low on subtlety, Interview With the Vampire delivers literally everything I’ve ever wanted from a vampire show (Sex! Catholics! New Orleans! Mind control!) and asks nothing of me in return. I love it.” Below, we’ve compiled nine other shows and movies that remind us of this great new fall TV addition.
This 1994 film is a classic if you’re into highly stylized vampire films but maybe not so much for most moviegoers, who viewed the film as somewhat cheesy and a little pretentious. Who cares about either of those things with a cast like Pitt, Slater, Cruise, and Banderas? Before the film premiered, author Anne Rice publicly criticized Cruise’s casting as the villainous vampire Lestat, saying, “I wanted to call [film producer] David Geffen and say, ‘How the hell could you do this?’” But after she saw his turn as her beloved character, she changed her tune. She said, “I like to believe Tom’s Lestat will be remembered the way Olivier’s Hamlet is remembered. Others may play the role someday, but no one will ever forget Tom’s version of it.”
2. What We Do In the Shadows (Hulu)
While What We Do In the Shadows is a comedy, it honestly paints a similar portrait of vampires that Interview with the Vampire does. It’s just a much funnier and more hyperbolically stereotypical portrayal. Where in Interview with the Vampire, its vampiric hero introduces a journalist in his life, these vampires in What We Do In the Shadows welcome a documentary crew. Both the AMC drama and the Hulu comedy feature horny bisexual vampires who wear elaborate outfits and need to feast on sometimes innocent people to skate by. Though there aren’t many laugh-out-loud moments in Interview besides some cheesy moments, What We Do In the Shadows plays up the most outlandish vampire stereotypes to funny results.
3. What We Do In the Shadows (Kanopy)
Before the hit Hulu series came to a just-as-funny film version of What We Do in the Shadows starring show creators Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. Those two also wrote and directed the 2014 movie. Where the show takes place in Staten Island, the movie follows a group of vampires living in Wellington, New Zealand. Alongside the Hulu spin-off, this film also served as the basis for the hilarious TV series Wellington Paranormal, which follows the oblivious cops who show up to inspect the haunted vampire mansion from the film.
4. Let the Right One In (Hulu, Prime Video)
This blurb is about the original 2008 Swedish film, but in the past week, Showtime has begun premiering a well-reviewed television adaptation of this movie. From director Tomas Alfredson, the film (as well as the series) is an adaptation of the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (there was an American remake of the movie called Let Me In starring Chloe Grace Moretz). Roger Ebert was taken aback by the film in a review: “Let the Right One In is a “vampire movie,” but not even remotely what we mean by that term,” he wrote. “It is deadly grim. It takes vampires…very seriously, indeed. It is also a painful portrayal of an urgent relationship between two 12-year-olds on the brink of adolescence. It is not intended for 12-year-olds.”
5. The Strain (Hulu)
When The Strain premiered, it asked a question: what if FX tried to replicate the TV success of AMC’s The Walking Dead, but instead of zombies, it’s a vampire plague, and they got the bad boy congressmen from House of Cards Season 1 Corey Stoll to star? The show ran from 2014 to 2017, got Guillermo Del Toro to serve as show creator, and had it be based on Del Toro and novelist Chuck Hogan’s novel trilogy of the same name. Though it never got any Emmy nods, it was a solid and exciting part of FX’s 2010s slate.
6. Only Lovers Left Alive (HBO Max)
Anything director Jim Jarmusch does is worth an inclusion into any “must-watch” list. From his Memphis love letter on the film Mystery Train to even his cameos on the cult-classic ‘90s show Fishing With John or, more recently, What We Do in the Shadows on Hulu, Jarmusch only makes hits. Unsurprisingly, the vampires in Jarmusch’s 2013 film Only Lovers Left Alive are cool as hell: they’re rock stars who inspire musicians, they’re depressed, and they look rad as hell. Alongside Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, who plays the film’s main vampire couple, is the late Anton Yelchin with another solid performance.
7. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Criterion Channel and AMC+)
You had me at Iranian feminist vampire western. Shot entirely in black and white, this 2014 film follows a young Iranian woman who is a vampire. She chooses her prey carefully and tries to live an everyday life despite the temptation of exposed male necks everywhere she goes. While many of the filmmaking elements in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night are recognizable, never before have they been blended so seamlessly to make something original and memorable. You’ve never seen a movie quite like this.
8. True Blood (HBO Max)
True Blood creator Alan Ball has a great resume: he’s the showrunner for one of the best TV series of all time in Six Feet Under, and wrote the script for American Beauty, which honestly probably doesn’t hold up as well as it did when it premiered but is still worth a watch. While Anna Paquin is a great actress, this series has ample cheese, smut, and corniness. If you can stomach that like you can stomach Interview with the Vampire, dive right into this series.
9. Hannibal (Hulu)
Hannibal Lecter isn’t technically a vampire, but he’s known for eating human flesh and likes to dress up in nice clothes. Close enough for us! This show from TV savant Bryan Fuller should’ve lasted longer than three seasons (just as Fuller’s other shows, like Pushing Daises, deserved longer runs). The show stars the transcendent Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, Lecter’s foil and friend who’s an FBI agent on his trail. In season 1, the two solve murders together, with Graham having no idea of Lecter’s appetites. It gets more intense from there, and their relationship gets more bizarre and toxic.