As October begins, TV re-discovers its interest in all things creepy.
It’s time for more “Chucky,” more “Halloween,” more vampires and zombies and such. For most networks, this is a seasonal blip; for AMC, it’s a way of life.
On Halloween of 2010, the network introduced the zombies of “The Walking Dead.” That’s continued for 11 seasons and several spin-offs. It returns now, to air its final eight episodes at 9 p.m. Sundays – each one followed by an “Interview With the Vampire” (shown here) episode.
This is “the largest and most significant effort we’ve ever embarked on,” network chief Dan McDermott told the Television Critics Association. “We’re building around the iconic works of Anne Rice. We purchased 18 books.”
Coming in early 2023 is “Mayfair Witches.” But first is “Interview,” starting at 10:06 p.m. on Oct. 2.
Rice’s novel had the young-looking Louis (Brad Pitt in the 1994 movie) telling a modern reporter about centuries of history, after he was turned by the domineering Lestat (Tom Cruise) in 1791 Louisiana.
There was also a vampire child, frozen in age: In the novel, Claudia was 5 … the age of Rice’s daughter when she died; in the movie, she was played by Kirsten Dunst, 12.
Now the mini-series makes fresh changes:
— Claudia is 14, a key age to be frozen at. “I have two teenage daughters,” said director-producer Alan Taylor “and it’s fascinating to thing what would happen if this phase … was extended for eternity.”
— She’s played by an actress, Bailey Bass, who’s 19. “There are some things in Louisiana, in terms of child labor laws,” that made it hard to cast someone under 18, said writer-producer Rolin Jones.
— Louis and Claudia are played by Black actors, Jacob Anderson (shown here with Sam Reid, who plays Lestat) and Bass. “We do touch on what it means to be … A Black child at that time,” Bass said.
— And “that time” was changed by more than a century. Louis’ tale now begins in the “Storyville” neighborhood of New Orleans in the 1910s.
Storyville – shut down when the U.S. entered World War I – was a pleasure zone. Prostitution and gambling thrived; so did music, with Jelly Roll Morton, “King Oliver” and a teen Louis Armstrong.
“Storyville is a time period that hasn’t really been depicted visually,” said Mara LePere-Schloop, the show’s set designer. “And it doesn’t exist any more.”
It’s a setting that resists stereotypes. “Interview” offers prosperous Black entrepreneurs, including Louis. It also offers some vampires who don’t reflect dreary cliches.
“My coffin is so Claudia,” Bass said. “It’s pink and has these ruffles. And it’s plush.” It reflects a good time to be young, Black and eternal.