Script d'Interview with the Vampire

 

Adapted by Neil Jordan
From the novel by Anne Rice

(1994)

 

 

INT. ROOM. NIGHT (SAN FRANCISCO)

A small bare room, illuminated only by the streetlight coming through the window.

A hand presses a cassette into a recorder and fiddles with a small microphone.

Malloy sits over a table fiddling with the tape. He is young, half-shaven, dressed in T shirt and jeans. He looks too --

LOUIS, who stands by the window, looking out on the streeet, with his back to Mallowy. Louis is dressed in an old-fashioned suit.

LOUIS

So you want me to tell you the story of my life...

MALLOY

That's what I do. I interview people. I collect lives. F.M. radio. F.F.R.C. I just interviewed a genuine hero, a cop who -

LOUIS
(quietly interrupting)

You'd have to have a lot of tape for my story. I've had a very unusual life.

MALLOY

So much the better. I've got a pocket full of tapes.

LOUIS

You followed me here, didn't you?

MALLOY

Saw you in the street outside. You seemed interesting. Is this where you live?

LOUIS

It's just a room...

MALLOY

So shall we begin?
(Playfully, almost teasing)
What do yo do?

LOUIS

I'm a vampire.

Malloy laughs.

MALLOY

See? I knew you were interesting. You mean this literally, I take it?

LOUIS

Absolutely. I was watching you watching me. I was waiting for you in that alleyway. And then you began to speak.

MALLOY

Well, what a lucky break for me.

LOUIS

Perhaps lucky for both of us.

Still in shadow he turns from the window and approaches the table.

LOUIS

I'll tell you my story. All of it. I'd like to do that very much.

Malloy is uneasy as he studies the shadowy figure, fascinated but afraid.

MALLOY

You were going to kill me? Drink my blood?

LOUIS

Yes but you needn't worry about that now. Things change.

Louis stands opposite, hand on the chair. Malloy is riveted.

MALLOY

You believe this, don't you? That you're a vampire? You really think...

LOUIS

We can't begin this way. Let me turn on the light.

MALLOY

But I thought vampires didn't like the light.

LOUIS

We love it. I only wanted to prepare you.

Louis pulls the chord of the overhead naked light bulb.

LOUIS' FACE
appears inhumanly white, eyes glittering. Inhuman or not alive. the effect is subtle, beautiful and ghastly.

MALLOY

Good God!

He struggles to suppress fear and understand.

LOUIS

Don't be frightened. I want this opportunity.

The light appears to go out by itself and suddenly Louis is in the chair, dimly lit by the street-light from the window. The cassette is turning.

MALLOY

How did you do that?

LOUIS

The same way you do it. A series of simple gestures. Only I moved too fast for you to see. I'm flesh and blood, you see. But not human. I haven't been human for two hundred years.

Malloy is speechless, frightened yet enthralled.

LOUIS

What can I do to put you at ease? Shall we begin like David Copperfield? I am born, I grow up. Or shall we begin when I was born to darkness, as I call it. That's really where we should start, don't you think?

MALLOY

You're not lying to me, are you?

LOUIS

Why should I lie? 1791 was the year it happened. I was twenty-four - younger than you are now.

MALLOY

Yes.

LOUIS

But times were different then. I was a man at that age. The master of a large plantation just south of New Orleans...

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. LOUISIANA. DAY. (1791)

A dishevelled Louis, hair in pigtail, in deep pocket frock coat, rides his horse through the fields of indigo, passing an overseer and slaves at work.

He passes slave quarters and the distant colonial mansion of Pointe du Lac.

He comes to a small parish church and a graveyard. he dismounts and walks through the tombs to an elaborate one in Greek Style.

LOUIS (V.O.)

I had just lost my wife in childbirth. She and the infant had been buried less than half a year.

There is a marble angel above the tomb, feminine, with a tiny cherub angel in her arms. Louis looks from the angel, down to the inscriptions on the tomb:

DIANNE DE POINTE DU LAC 1763 - 1791
INFANT JEAN MARIE - 1791

Louis rps away the vines already covering the inscription, then drinks from a pocket-flask. His face is ashen.

LOUIS (VO)

I was twenty-four and life seemed finished. I couldn't bear the pain of thier loss. I longed for a release from it.

INT. WATERFRONT TAVERN. NIGHT.

Louis in ragged lace and dirty brocade sitting between two whores at a gaming table, drinking absinthe. All around him flatboatmen, whores, gamblers, black african freedmen.

LOUIS (VO)

I wanted to lose everything. My wealth, my estate, my sanity. But Lady Luck didn't oblige.

Louis dsiplays a hand of four aces. A gambler at the table stands in fury, over turning money, cards, drinks.

LOUIS

You're calling me a cheat?

GAMBLER I'm calling you a piece of shit -

The gambler pulls out a pearl-handled pistol and points it at Louis. The crowd hushes and draws back. Louis smiles drunkenly and stands. he rips open his lace shirt, exposing his chest.

LOUIS

Then do me a favour. Get rid of this piece of shit...

The gambler's finger on the trigger. His hand shakes.

LOUIS

You lack the courage of your convictions, sir. Do it.

LESTAT,
a hooded figure in the corner, smiles from beneath the shadow of his hood. Gleaming blue eyes.

LOUIS (VO)

Most of all I longed for death. I know that now. I invited it, a release from the pain of living...

The gambler lowers his gun, scowling. Louis pockets the fistfulls of coins he has won.

EXT. WATERFRONT. NIGHT.

Loud, crowded riverfront taverns full of ruffians. Louis staggers down, an arm around a whore, drinking from a bottle. A pockmarked pimp follows behind.

LOUIS

My invitation was open to anyone. Sailors, thieves, whores and slaves...

EXT. WHARF. NIGHT.

Louis, quite insensible, being propped up against a wall by the whore in a dank wharf over the water. The pimp rifles his pockets, then pulss a knife, about to slice his throat, when a shadow falls over him. He turns, and we see the face of Lestat, who lifts him into the air by his throat, breaking his neck. the whore screams and Lestat's other hand clamps over her mouth. Lestat drags her towards him. Louis falls to the ground, supported no more, insensible. Close on his face, as we hear the last breaths of life of the whore, off.

LOUIS (VO)

But it was a vampire that accepted.

IN THE WATER -

The bodies of the thief and whore float by. Above on the wharf, Louis, now awake, stares down at them. He turns, to see Lestat, towering above him.

LESTAT

They would have killed you -

LOUIS

Then my luck would have changed.

LESTAT

You want death? Is it death you want?

LOUIS

Yes...

Lestat floats down on top of him, then lifts him in the air, draws his head back by the hair and sinks his teeth in his neck.

ON LOUIS' FACE
- every muscle rigid, teeth clenched, as the blood is drained from him.

ON THIER FEET - hovering above the ground, like two quivering dancers.

THE WIND - billows through the ghostly white sails and rigging of the boats around the wharf.

LESTAT - floats higher, with Louis in his arms, draining his blood. One hand reaches out and grips a rope, hanging from a shipmast. The other holds Louis. He withdraws his teeth, and looks into Louis' drained face.

LESTAT

You still want death? Or have you tasted it enough?

Louis can barely get the words out.

LOUIS

Enough...

Lestat smiles and lets him go. Louis falls and plummets into the water below.

LOUIS' FACE - coming to the surface, in the water lapping by the wharf. The bodies of the whore and thief float beside him. He looks up and sees Lestat way above him, dangling from the rope of the shipmast.

INT. ROOM. SAN FRANCISCO.

ON MALLOY'S FACE
captivated, terrified, enthralled.

MALLOY

That's how it happened?

LOUIS

No. The Gift of Darkness requires more than that, as you'll see.

EXT. WATERFRONT. DAY.

Louis floating by mudflats, surrounded by dead fish, the carcases of animals, eighteenth century rubbish. He gets to his feet and walks weakly through the mudflats. The sun is coming up over the sea behind him.

LOUIS (VO)

He left me half dead that morning. he wanted something from me. He came back the following night.

INT. LAVISH FRENCH-FURNISHED BEDROOM AT POINT DU LAC.

Louis is delerious in a four-poster bed, shrouded with mosquito netting. A female slave, YVETTE, bathes his face with a rag. She is crying. Other slave women hover in the shadows. Yvette puts out all candles save one by the bed, and withdraws, with the others.

Candlelight flickers on the face of the bisque virgin.

Louis tosses and turns, dreaming, murmuring incoherently. Then he opens his eyes.

LESTAT, exquisitely dressed in French clothing, stands by the bed smiling. In the light of the candle we see that he is not human; skin too white; eyes too bright. Lestat looks amiable, even mischevious, but impossible - and angel or monster.

Louis grabs his pistol from the table and cocks it.

LOUIS

Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my house?

LESTAT

And a beautiful house it is too. Yours is a good life, isn't it?

Louis takes aim. Lestat puts his hand over the barrel. Louis fires. The bullet tears a hole in Lestat's hand. Lestat is unfazed. He takes the gun from Louis' hand and throws it away. His hand begins to heal.

LESTAT

You're not afraid of anything, are you?

LOUIS

Why should I be?

Louis reaches for his sword, hanging by the bed, and point it. Lestat laughs indulgently. He draws closer.

LESTAT

Are you going to put that through me too? Ruin my beautiful clothes?

He comes closer to Louis, right up to his face, so the sword passes through his waistcoat.

LESTAT

Were all last night's promises for nothing?

He reaches out with his now-healed hand and plucks out the sword.

LOUIS

What do you want from me?

LESTAT

I've come to answer your prayers. You want to die, don't you? Life has no meaning anymore, does it?

Lestat sits down on the bed, drawing up one knee. Louis is becoming spellbound.

LESTAT

The wine has no taste. The food sickens you. There seems no reason for any of it, does there? But what if I could give it back to you? Pluck out the pain and give you another life? And it would be for all time? And sickeness and death could never touch you again?

The vampire theme rises, with the sound of a heartbeat. Dissolve to:

EXT. GRAVEYARD. NIGHT.

The camera drifts through the graveyard where Louis' wife is buring. Everything is lit with an eery glow, as if seen through some unearthly eye.

LESTAT

Vampires, that's what we are. Creatures of darkness, only we see it that darkness more clearly than any mortal has ever seen...

Louis and Lestat drifting, dreamlike, through the overhanging vines, comes to the grave of his wife and child. Above the crypt, the statue of angel, mother and child.

LESTAT

Wouldn't it be sweet to bid pain goodbye? To wave away anguish and grief? To embrace the peace of the unending night?

The marble fingers of the child on the statue move. The angel raises her head and has the face of Louis wife, Diane. she raises her hand and touches Louis tear-streamed face. The child speaks.

MARBLE CHILD

Papa...

Louis reaches out to embrace them and finds himself touching cold marble. He cries out in anguish-

LOUIS

Diane!!!!

LESTAT

They are gone, Louis. Death took them. Death which you can now destroy...

LOUIS

NO!!!!!

INT. LOUIS BEDROOM. NIGHT.

Louis, thrashing on the bed in a delerium. Lestat places a hand on his forehead and soothes him.

LESTAT

You have to ask me for this. You have to want it, do you hear me?

LOUIS

Give it to me!!!

LESTAT

Vampires. We thrive on blood.

LOUIS

I want it!

Lestat bends close as if to drink Louis' blood. Louis does not shrink back, but stares into his eyes. Lestat draws back, then stands up and goes to the French doors.

LESTAT

Tomorrow night. You must prove yourself. I will give you the choice I never had.

He looks outside.

LESTAT

The sun's coming up. Watch it carefully. If you come with me tomorrow, you'll never see it again.

He leaves. Louis sits dazed, staring at the empty French window. The sun rises with unnatural beauty, over the swamplands and the plantation, filling the room, striking water-pitcher, glass, mirror, and the picture of his dead wife.

LOUIS (VO)

My last sunrise. That morning I was not yet a vampire, and I saw my last sunrise. I remember it completely, yet I don't remember any sunrise before it. I watched the whole magnificence of the dawn for the last time, as if it were the first. And the I said goodbye to sunlight and went out to become what I became.

EXT. PLANTATION. NIGHT.

Lestat and Louis walk through the slave quarters, huddles groups around fires, music, singing. The sound of whipping is heard.

LESTAT

Your grief has unhinged you. You've let your estate rot.

In the woods beyond the quarters, the white overseer is whipping a black slave, with horrifying savagery.

LESTAT

You let your overseer run riot, work your slaves to the bone. We'll start with him.

LOUIS

How do you mean, start?

LESTAT

Call him.

Louis calls.

LOUIS

Carlos!!!

The overseer turns and comes towards them, with the bloodied whip.

LESTAT

Why the bloody whip, Carlos?

The overseer looks into his eyes, shivers with terror, drops the whip and runs for the trees. Lestat is on him in an instant. He sinks is teeth in his neck. Louis runs to him, tries to pull him off. But Lestat turns to Louis and smiles, with his bloodied mouth.

LESTAT

Let's call that a start.

LOUIS

I can't do it.

LESTAT

You've just done it -

LOUIS

Kill me if you will, but I can't do this...

He flees, as Lestat ends to finish off the overseer.

EXT. POINTE DU LAC. NIGHT.

Louis running up the steps leading to the gallery. He is crazed with guilt. He looks up and sees -

LESTAT --

Sitting collected at the head of the steps.

LOUIS

Backs away as Lestat rises and descends the steps so fluidly he hardly seems to move.

LESTAT

Don't worry. He was white trash, they come at two a penny. I dumped him in the swamp and untied the slave, licked his wounds clean.

LOUIS

You're the devil, aren't you? That's who you are.

LESTAT (GENTLY)

I wish I were. But if I were, what would I want with you?

LOUIS

I can't go through with it, I tell you.

LESTAT

Your perfect. Your bitter and you're strong.

LOUIS

But why do you want me?

LESTAT

Because you're as strong as I was when I was alive.

Louis takes out his flask and drinks. Drunkely, he turns and heads for a nearby swamp.

EXT. CEMETERY. NIGHT.

Louis stops again in front of the crypt. Drinks from the flask, leans his forehead against the stone.

Lestat appears beside him, radiant, beautiful.

LESTAT

You really want to be with them?

LOUIS

Yes. Kill me. Kill me like you promised -

LESTAT

You asked for death. I didn't promise it -

In a quiet rage, Lestat raise his fist and shatters the marble face stone, revealing a coffin below. His fist shatters that in turn, revealing the half-rotted body of a women, holding an infant, no longer recognisable as individuals, a tangle of gruesome rotted hair, flesh, eaten away lace, insects and worms crawling over it.

Louis gasps.

LESTAT

It's not your wife and child my friend. It's death. Just that simple. Think and choose. It happens to everyone. Except us.

Lestat stares at him, smiling, becoming a hazy dreamlike vision, then hyperclear. Louis again is spellbound. He drops the flask, which shatters on the stones.

Lestat appears angelic in his radiance.

LESTAT

We shall be this way always, my friend. Young as we are now. I'm lonely for a companion, lonely for your strength. But I'm not that lonely. Do you want to come or not?

Louis capitulates in one long sigh.

LOUIS

Yes...

Lestat comes closer, smiling.

LESTAT

Did I hear a yes?

LOUIS

Yes...

Lestat embraces Louis, obscuring his face. He drinks his blood. We hear two heartbeats, out of sync, coming together. We see Louis' face, growing paler, paler, as his blood is drained. His eyes stare upwards, losing thier focus.

LOUIS POV --
The moon, through hanging vines. The marble statue of his wife and child smile at him, as if come alive. Her hair blows in the breeze, wonderful gold tresses, the child's fingers reach out...

BACK TO SCENE
Lestat lets Louis fall down beside the broken crypt. Louis looks from the rotting bodies to Lestat above him. radiant. Lestat speaks gently.

LESTAT

I've drained you to the point of death. If you drink from me you live for ever. If I leave you here you die.

Lestat lifts his hand to his lips and blows Louis a kiss.

LOUIS

No. Don't leave me here. Give it to me.

Lestat lifts his own right wrist to his teeth. Fangs slash his own flesh, blood falls.

LESTAT

You're sure?

LOUIS

Sure...

Louis rises to accept the first drops with his open mouth. Lestat gathers him up, as Louis clamps his hand on Lestat's arm and drinks from the wrist.

The
VAMPIRE THEME swells.

Lestat watches him drink his wrist with wry amusement. Louis finishes, staggers away from him as if drunk.

LOUIS' POV -

Vampire vision. The world is transformed, the swamp, the moon, the clouds, the cry of the night birds all come to him with unnatural clarity. He looks down with pity at the corpses of his wife and child who appear beautiful in death now rather than repulsive. He closes the lid of the coffin and replaces it in the ground, astonished at the ease of it.

He turns and stares at Lestat whom he sees now with vampire's vision. Lestat's eyes are brighter, his buttons are glimmering in the light. Everything is clearer, brighter, containing more facets of light and colour.

LESTAT

Stop staring at my buttons. Didn't I tell you it was going to be fun?

Lestat leads him into the swamp. Everything astonished Louis, as if he's never seen it before. Louis is suddenly racked by shudders of pain.

LESTAT

You're body's dying. Pay no attention. It will take twenty minutes at most.

LOUIS

Dying?

Louis dry-retches.

LESTAT

It happens to us all.

Lestat wipes Louis' brow.

LESTAT

Come, you're going to feed now.

LOUIS

I want a woman.

Lestat laughs and his laughter echoes like bells in Louis' ears.

LESTAT

That doesn't matter anymore, Louis. You'll see. Come...

LOUIS' VAMPIRE POV - SWAMP

Small high ground. Camp of runaway slaves. Several share a bottle of rum around the fire. A male slave rises. A gorgeous hunk of flesh in the moonlight and goes into the swamp to relieve his bladder.

LESTAT

They're all beautiful now. Men, women, the old, the young...simply because they are alive. -

The slave walks towards them in the darkness. A crucifix gleams round his neck.

LESTAT

Take him.

LOUIS

The crucifix -

LESTAT

Forget the crucifix. Take him.

Louis hesitates.

LESTAT

Resist no more Louis. Feed...

The slave looks up and sees them. Two gleaming white beings standing before him with devil's eyes. The he runs.

Louis can resist him no more. He swoops on him with a vampire's rapid movement, brings him to the ground and sinks his teeth in his neck.

Close on Louis feeding on the slave, the magnificent body shuddering in its death-throes. Lestat stands above, laughing.

The slave dies. Louis rises from him, drunkenly, engorged with blood.

LOUIS

What have I done?

LESTAT

You have fed. You were made for this...

Louis looks down at the body of the slave. Lestat's laughter echoes around him.

LOUIS

Dear God, what have I done?

LESTAT

You've killed Louis. And enjoyed it.

Lestat laughs harder. Louis runs from him, screaming in anguish.

EXT. GRAVEYARD. NIGHT.

Louis reaches his wife's grave. He falls to his knees, throws back his head and bares his new fangs to the moon.

LOUIS

Dear God, what have I become????

INT. ROOM. SAN FRANCISCO. NIGHT.

Malloy stares at Louis, terrified and enthralled.

MALLOY

You said the slave had a crucifix...

LOUIS

Oh, that rumour about crosses?

MALLOY

You can't look at them...

LOUIS

Nonsense, my friend. I can look on anything I like. And I am particularly fond of looking on crucifixes.

MALLOY

The story about stakes through the heart?

LOUIS

The same. As you would say today... Bull shit.

MALLOY

What about coffins?

LOUIS

Coffins... coffins unfortunately are a necessity...

EXT. MANSION. NIGHT.

Louis walks up the steps to the mansion. He looks now like a fully-fledged vampire. Yvette, the slave girl stares at him from the open doorway. Cascades of harpsichord music come from the interior.

LOUIS (VO)

Killing is no ordinary act. It is the experience of another's life for certain. That night I had lost my own life and taken another's. I was drowning in a sea of human guilt and regret, with all the heightened senses of a vampire...

Louis enters the mansion, following the harpsichord music, as if in a dream. Yvette draws back as he approaches.

INT. MANSION. NIGHT.

Louis wanders into the parlour, where Lestat is playing the harpsichord rapidly and exuberantly. Louis goes to a full-length mirror and sees his own reflection there - quite the perfect vampire.

LESTAT

Yes, that's you, my handsome friend. And you'll look that way till the stars fall from heaven.

LOUIS

It can't be...

LESTAT

Give it time. You're like a man who loses a limb and still imagines he feels pain. It will pass. And we must sleep now. I can feel the sun approaching.

EXT. POINTE DU LAC.

Dawn spreading over the plantation.

INT. BASEMENT. POINTE DU LAC.

A brick walled storage room. Two coffins stand on the floor. Lestat enters with a lantern, Louis behind. Lestat is apprehensive and protective of Louis. He pulls back one lid ot reveal a satin interior.

LESTAT

You must get into it. It's the only safe place for you when the light comes.

LOUIS

And if I don't?

LESTAT

The sun will destroy the blood I've given you. Every tissue, every vein. The fire in this lantern could do that too.

Louis approaches the coffin, hands trembling as he peers into it.

LESTAT

Don't be afraid. In moments you'll be sleeping as soundly as you ever slept. And when you awake I'll be waiting for you, and so will all the world.

Louis crawls into the coffin, fearful yet fascinated.

LOUIS

You told me something earlier. You said you didn't have a choice. Was that true?

Lestat smiles bitterly and nods.

LESTAT

Someday I'll tell you. We have a lot of time to talk to each other. You might say... we have all the time we shall ever need.

He closes the lid.

Total darkness. Sounds of Louis' panicked breathing. Of his prayer again.

LOUIS

Dear God, what have I done?

INT. DINING ROOM. NIGHT.

Louis and Lestat sitting at a sumptuous table, piled with uneaten food. Lestat is going through sheafs of documents.

LOUIS (VO)

I awoke the next evening to a different world. And I realized there are as profound differences between vampires as between human beings...

Lestat, totting up figures on a piece of paper.

LESTAT

Your wealth, dear Louis, is inestimable. Your income from cotton alone will keep us in comfort for a century.

Louis just stares at him.

LOUIS (VO)

I sat there staring at him with contempt. He had the soul of a shopkeeper, he was the sow's ear out of which nothing fine could be made. I felt sadly cheated in having him as a teacher...

Lestat looks up at him and grins.

LESTAT

You'll get used to killing. Just forget about that mortal coil. You'll become accustomed to things all too quickly.

LOUIS

Do you think so?

Yvette enters, stands behind him, staring at Lestat with loathing.

YVETTE

You are not hungry, sir...

LESTAT

Au contraire, my dear. He could eat a horse...

Lestat laughs loudly. Louis turns and looks at Yvette. Her beautiful forehead in the candlelight, the veins pulsing on her neck and her hands.

LOUIS (VO)

I looked at anything mortal and saw all life as precious, condemning all fruitless guilt and passion that would let it slip through the fingers like sand...

Yvette returns his stare, troubled.

LOUIS (VO)

It was only as a vampire that I could see Yvette's beauty. Her fear of me increased my desire.

Yvette reaches for his uneaten plate. Louis stops her hand. Holds it for a beat too long, looking at the veins in her wrist.

LOUIS

I will finish it, Yvette. Now leave us.

She turns and runs from the table. Lestat leans towards him.

LESTAT

Can't you pretend, you fool? Don't give the game away. We're lucky to have such a home.

His hand snakes out under the table. It comes up holding a large grey rat.

LESTAT

Pretend to drink, at least.

He bares his fangs and slices the rat's throat. He pours the blood into a crystal glass.

LESTAT

Such fine crystal shouldn't go to waste...

He hands the glass to Louis. Louis drinks the blood and stares at it in surprise, then at the dead rat on the fine lace tablecloth.

LESTAT

I know. It gets cold so fast.

LOUIS

We can live like this? Off the blood of animals?

Lestat shrugs.

LESTAT

I wouldn't call it living. I'd call it surviving. A useful trick if you're caught for a month on a ship at sea.

Lestat strokes the belly of the dead rat, studying it sadly.

LESTAT

There's nothing in the world now that doesn't hold some...

LOUIS

Fascination...

LESTAT

Yes. And I'm bored with this prattle --

He throws the rat away.

LOUIS

But we can live without taking human life. It's possible.

LESTAT

Anything is possible. But just try it for a week. Come into New Orleans and let me show you some real sport!

He rises. Louis follows.

EXT. NEW ORLEANS. NIGHT.

A big, lavish drinking place with a raised stage.

Italian actors in buffoonish costumes act crude commedia dell'arte on the stage.

Plantation owners in soiled brocade, lace, crooked wigs watch the show as tavern wenches move about.

LOUIS (VO)

This was New Orleans, a magical and magnificent place to live. In which a vampire, richly dressed might attract no more notice in the evening than hundreds of other exotic creatures.

Louis and Lestat by a table, in the shadow of a tree. Teresa, a tavern wench, sits on Lestat's lap, pouring drinks for the two of them. She lifts a fresh glass to Lestat's lips as he flirts with her.

TERESA

Come on, mon cher. The best in the colony. Once you touch this you'll never go to any other tavern again.

LESTAT

You think so, cherie? But what if I'd rather taste your lips?

TERESA

My lips are even sweeter still...

She kisses him. He lets his tongue play with hers, then runs it down her neck. She swoons with pleasure. Then he sinks his teeth gently in her neck, looking playfully behind at Louis, who if apalled and fascinated.

ANTICS ON THE STAGE

Laughter rocks the tavern.

Lestat slips the pale and dead Teresa into a chair beside him and folds her hands on the table. No one notices. He lays gold coins on the table and touches Louis' knee.

LESTAT

Let's get out of here!

Lestat rushes out, thrilled with himself.

EXT. TAVERN. NIGHT.

A crowded street. Louis and Lestat emerge from the tavern. Louis looks up at the moon.

LOUIS

Have you ever been caught?

LESTAT

Of course not. It's so easy you almost feel sorry for them.

They walk down the crowded night street, full of ladies in their finery, freed slaves, whores, sailors etc.

LOUIS (VO)

Lestat killed two, sometimes three a night. A fresh young girl, that was his favourite for the first of the evening.

INT. FRENCH QUARTER MANSION -- BALLROOM

Small orchestra plays for colonial couples in fine wig and garb prancing to a French minuet. Young women sit in chairs along the walls with their chaperones. Young men stand opposite.

LOUIS (VO)

But the triumphant kill of Lestat was a young man. They represented the greatest loss to Lestat because they stood on the threshold of the maximum possibility of life.

A youth of preternatural beauty, sillhouetted against French windows. He is talking to an elegan widow, seated, holding two manicured poodles. Lestat stares at the youth with longing.

LESTAT

The trick is not to think about it. See that one? The widow St. Clair? she had that gorgeous young fop murder her husband. She's perfect for you. Go ahead.

LOUIS

But how do you know?

LESTAT

Read her thoughts.

LOUIS

I can't.

LESTAT

The dark gift is different for each of us. But one thing is true of everyone. We grow stronger as we go along.

He leads Louis closer to them.

LESTAT

Take my word for it. She blamed a slave for his murder. And do you know what they did to him?

He smiles at the young man, who smiles in return.

LESTAT

The evildoers are easier. And they taste better...

EXT. LAWNS. NIGHT.

Lestat walks the youth towards a copse of trees. He looks back at Louis, who holds both poodles on a delicate leash, walking with the widow. The minuet spills from the french windows.

WIDOW ST. CLAIR

Now, young man, you really amaze me! I'm old enough to be your grandmother.

She leans towards him concquettishly. Louis, crazed with hunger, sees her as beautiful in the moonlight. He allows her lips reach his. He takes her in his arms, gently, romantically, and sinks in his teeth. She swoons.

WIDOW ST. CLAIR

Yes, that's the melody, I remember it. Oh yes...

Louis draws his lips away. She is weak in his arms, but still alive. He can't do it. The poodles growl. He shotts out an arm and grabs one, then the other.

EXT. TREES. NIGHT.

Lestat, bending over the body of the dead youth. A scream pierces the night.

WIDOW ST CLAIR

Murder!!! Murderer!!

EXT. LAWNS. NIGHT

The widow on the grass, her poodles dead beside her. Louis is trying to quiet her.

WIDOW ST CLAIR

My little papillions! My butterflies!!! He killed them!!!

Lestat comes from nowhere, claps a hand over her mouth and breaks her neck. He spits in fury at Louis.

LESTAT

You whining coward of a vampire who prowls the night killing rats and poodles. You could have finished us both!

Louis throws himself on Lestat with extraordinary force, pummelling him towards the trees.

LOUIS

What have you done to me? You've condemned me to hell.

LESTAT

I don't know any hell -

Louis hurls him against tree after tree with a strength he never knew he had.

LOUIS

You want to see me kill? Watch me kill you then -

He drags him to the ground an throttles him. Lestat looks up at him, amazed and amused at the same time.

LESTAT

What strength, my friend, what strength. I remember why I chose you now.

Lestat squirms from his grip, seemingly effortlessly.

LESTAT

But you can't kill me, Louis. Nor I you.

He ruffles Louis' hair, with wry affection.

LESTAT

Feed on what you want, mon cherie. Rats, chickens, doves, goats. I'll leave you to it and watch you come round. Just remember, life without me would be even more unbearable...

He smiles. A sly, pleasureable secret secret smile.

EXT. POINTE DU LAC. NIGHT.

Their carriage draws up to the mansion as the first fingers of light spread across the sky.

LOUIS (VO)

Being a vampire to him meant revenge. Revenge against life-itself. Every time he took a life it was revenge. and the slaves with a wisdom that was denied their masters, began to notice...

INT. SLAVE-HUT. NIGHT.

In a tiny cabin, a slave family. Kids sleeping on the floor, in cribs and cots. The parents sleep on the bed, young, beautiful, naked. Beside them is Lestat, who is drinking the husband's blood, his hand playing across the breast of the wife as he does so. She murmurs in her sleep.

WIFE

Yes... please...

She grabs his fingers and kisses them, thinking him to be her husband. Lestat gently disengages himself and leaves.

EXT. SLAVE-HUT. NIGHT.

The woman's scream pierces the sky, as Lestat walks into the night.

EXT. CHICKEN-COOP. NIGHT.

Every chicken is dead, bloodies necks hanging down from the cribs. Louis emerges from the entrance, blood on his lips. He hears the scream.

EXT. SLAVE QUARTER. NIGHT.

The sound of drumming is heard, african, primal. The woman runs through the quarters, screaming grief. Others gather at doorways, restrain and console her.

EXT. DOVE-COTE. DAY.

A beautiful, elaborate eighteenth century dove-cote. Every dove inside is dead, pierced at the neck. A balck hand throws in a flaming torch and it bursts into flame.

INT. CABIN. NIGHT.

A doll, made in the image of Lestat, is pierced with needles.

EXT. SWAMP BY FIELDS. DAY.

Bodies of slaves floating in the swamp, with the bodies of goats. Slaves at the edge throw ropes around the bodies, pull them towards the shore. The drumming grows louder.

EXT. SLAVE-QUARTERS. NIGHT.

Louis walking through. The slaves hush as he appraoches, gather in doorways and whipser. He turns and looks at them, sorrowfully. He looks truly like a ghost. Their eyes turn away when they meet his. He walks on.

INT. DINING ROOM IN MANSION. NIGHT.

Lestat and Louis sit at the table, the untouched food between them.

LESTAT

Consider yourself lucky. In Paris a vampire has to be clever for many reasons. Here all one needs is a pair of fangs.

LOUIS

Paris? You came from Paris?

LESTAT

As did the one who made me.

LOUIS

Tell me about him. You must have lernt something from him! It had to happen for you as it did for me!

LESTAT

I learnt absolutely nothing. I wasn't give a choice, remember?

LOUIS

But you must know something about the meaning of it all, you must know where we come from, why we...

Lestat spits out in anger.

LESTAT

Why? Why should I know these things? Do you know them?

The drumming grows outside.

LESTAT (gripping his temples)

That noise! It's driving me mad! We've been in the country for weeks, with nothing but that noise!!!

LOUIS

They know about us. They see us dine on empty plates and drink from empty glasses.

LESTAT

Come the New Orleans then. There's an opera on tonight. A real french opera! We can dine in splendour!

LOUIS

I respect life, don't you see? For each and every human life I have respect.

LESTAT

Respect me a little then. I'm the only life you know.

Louis stares. Lestat turns childishly, petulantly.

LESTAT

You'll soon run out of chickens, Louis...

He walks out, humming a French aria. Louis stares at his plate.

EXT. SLAVE QUARTERS. NIGHT.

The slaves, gathered on mass around fires. Frenzied drumming, dancing. Lestat rides through, scattering the flames. The drumming stops. The slaves look towards the house. Slowly, they begin to move towards it.

INT. POINTE DU LAC DINING ROOM. NIGHT.

Louis, sitting in despair by the table. Yvette, the slave girl enters.

YVETTE

Michi Louis? You don't want any supper?

Louis laughs harshly.

LOUIS

No, ma cher. I need no supper. Is all well at Pointe Du Lac tonight?

Yvette draws closer. Light reveals her beauty.

YVETTE

We worry about you master. When do you ride about the fields? How long since you've been to the slave quarters? Everywhere there is death. Animals, men. Are you our master still at all?

Louis watches her sadly. He's getting hungry. Her throat is long and slender, her breasts are gorgeous.

LOUIS (dazed)

Leave me alone now, Yvette.

YVETTE

I will not go unless you listen to me. Send away this new friend of yours. The slaves are frightenend of him. They are frightenend of you.

She comes closer, and he can hear her beating heart. She touches his hair. He takes her hand and brings it to his lips.

LOUIS

I am frightened of myself, Yvette.

He kisses her wrist. She suddenly gasps, sharply, withdraws her hand. She sees her wrist is red with blood. She sees the blood on his lips. She screams.

Louis stands.

LOUIS

Hush, Yvette -

She screams even louder. Louis clamps his hand over her mouth. Her hand grips the table-cloth, pulls, bringing the empty glasses and crockery to the floor.

In horror, Louis realises he has broken her neck. He brings her cut wrist to his lips, then drops it, revolted. He carries her body outside, grief-stricken.

The drumming grows louder.

EXT. MANSION. NIGHT.

Fires burning in the distance, round the slave-cabins. The slaves are gathered at the foot of the mansion steps. They see Louis come out, holding the body of Yvette. He is deranged with grief.

LOUIS

This place is cursed. Damned, do you hear me? And your master is the devil.

He places the body of Yvette in a rocking chair on the varanda.

LOUIS

Get out while you can. You're free men.

They don't move. They stare at him blankly.

LOUIS

Unlike me, you are no free men...

He turns behind him, and looks at the mansion, all candleabra and chandeliers lighted, all windows open.

LOUIS

Do I have to convince you?

He rushed up the stairs, snatches up the candleabra and sets fire to the drapes. He goes from window to window, lighting drapes, lace curtains, everything.

SLAVES POV -- MASTER

Setting fire to the house.

They rush up the stairs with shouts of "STOP HIM, HE'S MAD". A wall of flame gushes out from the interior, blocking their way.

INT. BURNING MANSION. NIGHT.

Louis, wandering from room to room of the burning mansion. he sees paintings of his wife consumed by the flames. He is weakening with the fumes, the heat. We can see this in his face, the texture of his skin.

Suddenly a large french window cascades inwards and Lestat stands there, whip in hand. Behind him we can see the morning sky.

LESTAT

You fool, what have you done?

LOUIS

What you wouldn't do. It's almost sunrise. It will be the sun or the fire. You said they can kill me. The sun or the fire!

Louis stands there, weakened, then collapses onto the floor. Lestat darts forward and catches him before he drops. He runs out the shattered window, carrying him on his shoulder.

EXT. LARGE GRAVEYARD. DAWN.

With many crypts. Louis, unconscious, carried over Lestat's shoulder.

INT. CRYPT.

Darkness. Louis lying on the floor of a large crypt. He slowly comes to.

LOUIS

Where are we?

LESTAT

Where do you think, my idiot friend? We're in a nice filthy cemetery. Does this make you happy? Is this fitting and proper enough?

Louis laughs softly.

LOUIS

We belong in hell.

LESTAT

And what if there is no hell, or they don't want us there? Ever think of that?

INT. ROOM. SAN FRANCISCO. NIGHT.

The vampire sits in silence, as if tired by his story. Malloy speaks, hesitantly.

MALLOY

You loved Yvette...

LOUIS

Can a vampire feel love?

MALLOY

You loved your wife, surely.

LOUIS

I was human then. Might as well ask can an angel feel love. Both are blesses or cursed with a certain... detachment. Though whether angels take as long to learn it as I, I will never know.

He looks directly at Malloy, shocking him with his gaze.

LOUIS

Yes, I loved Yvette. As I loved Pointe Du Lac. And as with each thing I loved, I destoryed it.

EXT. NEW ORLEANS. EVENING.

From the sea, at evening, shrouded in mist.

LOUIS (VO)

Lestat I did not love. And he survived.

INT. INN. EVENING.

A lavish little supper chamber with coffered bed, fancy French furniture. Open to rooftops of colonial city. Louis sits by an open window looking out over the city. Behind, we can hear the laughter of Lestat and tow female voices. Louis turns and sees -

Lestat, in the main chamber with two drugged or drunked whores. One runs her finger down his chest. The other seems out of it.

WHORE 1

You're skin's icy.

LESTAT

Not always...

He presses his thumb on her neck and holds her tight, sinking his teeth into her neck. After a time she falls to the bed, dead. he turns to the other.

LESTAT

Your friend has no head for wine.

WHORE

She's stupid. I can warm that cold skin of yours better than she can.

LESTAT

Do you think so?

He rubs her breast.

WHORE

Why you're warm now.

LESTAT

Ah, but the price is pretty high. Your sweet friend - I exhausted her.

He bites her in turn, drinks her blood. She does into the swoon.

Louis looks on in disgust. He stands.

LOUIS

I'm leaving you. I can't stand this any longer.

Lestat pulls away from the whore.

LESTAT

What, no flowery speeches? About what a monster I am? What a vulgar fiend?

LOUIS

I'm not interested in you. You disgust me. I'm interested in my own nature and know I can't trust you to tell me the truth about me.

LESTAT

What do you imagine you are Louis?

LOUIS

I don't pretend to know.

LESTAT

Don't you understand, Louis, that you alone of all creatures can see death with impunity... you alone under the rising moon can strike like the hand of God.

The girl moans.

LOUIS

Lestat, she's alive!!!!

LESTAT

Vampires are killers. Predators, who's all seeing eyes were meant to give them detachment.

The girl moans again, open her eyes.

LOUIS

The girl, Lestat -

LESTAT

I know. Let her alone.

He slashes her wrist with his teeth, and lets the blood drip into a glass.

LESTAT

You think you can be human. You think you can go back. But you can't. You live off the blood of rats now Louis. How human is that?

The girls moans again. Lestat drinks that glass.

LESTAT

Lie still, love...

The girl begins to scream. Lestat picks her up.

LESTAT

You're tired love, you want to sleep.

He walks to his coffin, puts her inside and sits on the lid. We hear muffled screaming and banging from inside.

LOUIS

Why do you do this Lestat?

LESTAT

I like to do it. I enjoy it. Take you aesthete's taste to purer things. Kill them swiftly if you will, but do it! For now doubt, you are a killer Louis. Ah!

He stands up. The girl pushes the lid off, hysterical. She looks at Louis.

GIRL

It's a coffin, a coffin! Get me out!

LESTAT

Of course it's a coffin. You're dead, love.

Louis screams at Lestat

LOUIS

Lestat - finish this -

LESTAT

You finish her - if you feel so much -

The girl grabs Louis and pleads.

GIRL

You won't let me die, will you? You'll save me?

LESTAT

But it's too late, love. Look at your wrist, you breast.

He picks her up again. He turns to Louis laughing.

LESTAT

Unless I make her one of us...

LOUIS

NO!!!

LESTAT

THEN YOU KILL HER!!!!!

The girl screams. Louis puts his hands to his ears. Then Lestat, in a fit of pique puts his teeth to her neck. She dies at last.

A terrible silence descends. Lestat looks at Louis.

LOUIS

My God... to think you... are all I have to learn from...

LESTAT

In the old world, they called it the dark gift, Louis. And I gave it to you.

Louis leaves without a word.

EXT. DANK NEW ORLEANS BACK STREETS. NIGHT.

A rat scurried down a gutter, then another and another. Louis' hand graps the rat. We see him from behind, walking down the street, gripping one, then another.

LOUIS (VO)

Am I damned? Am I from the devil? Is my very nature that of a devil? And all the while, as these dreaded questions caused me to neglect my thirst, my thirst grew hotter, my veins were threads of pain in my flesh, my temples throbbed.

A smaller side street, in which every house is marked with an X. The street is crawling with rats, and Louis is following them. A man passes with a lantern.

MAN

Don't go that way Monsieur. It's the plague. Go back the way you came.

Louis smiles bitterly at these words, repeating them to himself.

LOUIS

The way I came...

He walks on, following the rats.

LOUIS (VO)

...and finally, when I could stand it no longer, I stood in an empty desolate street and heard the sound of a child crying.

A house, the door slightly open, marked with an X. The sound of a child crying inside. Louis walks towards it.

INT. HOUSE. NIGHT.

A little girl, pulling at a figure in a rocking chair.

CLAUDIA

Mama, please wake up. Mama, I'm frightened, please wake up.

As Louis enters, he sees the woman is dead. Her eyes are being eaten away by rats.

Louis gasps in horror. Claudia turns. She is a radiant doll or angel as she stretches out her hand to Louis.

CLAUDIA

Monsieur, please help us. Papa's waiting for us at the ship. Please wake mama, Monsieur.

She runs to him. Instinctively, he gathers her in his arms. He looks down pitying on her beautiful face.

LOUIS (VO)

And if I am damned, why do I fell such pity for her gaunt face? Why do I wish to warm her tiny arms? Comfort her beating heart?

She snuggles into him, suddenly utterly secure. She tugs at his hair, brings his head down towards her. And we see Louis shiver, as his lips go to her neck.

Her breathing becomes calm as she goes into the swoon. Gradually another sound replaces it.

LESTAT'S LAUGHTER, GROWING LOUDER AND LOUDER.

Suddenly Louis backs away, caught redhanded, the child in his arms. He sees Lestat slapping his knee and laughing in the doorway.

LESTAT

Ah, my philospher, my martyr. "Never take a human life". Well you must admit it is funny. Or is it merely touching? I'm not sure.

Louis stares at hte unconscious Claudia in horror, then lets her slip gently into a chair. Shamefully he wipes his mouth, sees the tiny wounds on her throat.

Lestat snatches up the dead mother from the chair and begins to dance with her in great circles, humming and talking. Her head falls back. Black water flows from her mouth.

LESTAT

Let's make some party of it, shall we? Maybe there's some life in the old lady yet?

Louis flees into the street.

LESTAT

Come back, Louis, you are what you are. The plague would have got her within hours anyway. Merciful Death how you love your precious guilt.

EXT. STREETS. NIGHT.

Louis running through an assortment of streets. All the night life of New Orleans flows by him.

LOUIS (VO)

For years I had not savoured a human. And when I had Lestat's words made sense to me. I knew peace only when I killed and when I heard her heart in that terrible rhythm I knew again what peace could be. Yet even then I could not contenance it...

EXT. WATERFRONT. DAWN.

Fingers of light in the sky. Louis, pale and shivering, walks splashing through the water. He comes to a huge sewer-pipe, crowded with rats. He crawls inside.

EXT. WATERFRONT. SOME EVENINGS LATER.

The same sewer-pipe. Now the bodies of dead rats lie all around. A pire of fine leather boots splash through the water - LESTAT'S.

INT. SEWER-PIPE. EVENING.

Louis huddled there, so pale and shivering he seems close to death. Lestat comes through.

LESTAT

All I need to find you Louis is follow the corpses of rats.

He bends down to him, suprisingly gently and puts his own coat around him.

LESTAT

Pain is terrible for you. You feel it like no other creature because you are a vampire. You don't want it to go on.

LOUIS

No...

They emerge from the sewer and walk along the waterfront.

LESTAT

Do what it is in your nature to do. And you will feel as you felt with that child in your arms.

LOUIS

Oh God Lestat. I felt peace. I felt an end to the craving.

LESTAT

That and more.

He puts his arm around Louis, to stop his shivering.

LESTAT

Evil is a point of view. God kills, indiscriminately, and so shall we. For no creatures under God are as we are, none so like him as ourselves.

LOUIS

Is God merciless? Greedy and cruel?

LESTAT

Ah, but we have even more in common with our creator. come, I am like a mother tonight. I want a child.

Louis is baffled. He follows.

INT. INN. SUPPER ROOM.

Lestat enters.

LESTAT

She's here, your wounded one.

LOUIS

What are you saying?

LESTAT

You need company, Louis. More congenial than mine...

Lestat holds up a candle and walks towards a large four-poster bed. Claudia lies there, angelic, under the coverlet, two marks on her neck.

LOUIS

Lestat!

LESTAT

You remember how you wanted her, the taste of her -

LOUIS

I didn't want to kill her.

LESTAT

Don't worry, Louis, you're conscience is clear. You left her alive.

Lestat shakes her gently.

LESTAT

Claudia, Claudia, listen to me. You're ill, my precious and I'm going to give you what you need to get well.

LOUIS

Lestat, what do you mean?

Louis runs at him, but Lestat brushes him aside efforlessly, so he falls to the floor. Lestat bites his wrist and presses the bledding wound to the child's mouth... He winces in pain.

LESTAT

That's it dear. More. You must drink it to get well.

Claudia sucks on the wound, reviving, making little noises like a person waking from sleep.

Louis rises to his feet as Claudia clutches Lestat's arm, sucking the blood fiercely. Lestat moans.

LESTAT

Stop, that's enough. No more.

He pulls her losse and she growls and stares at him with big clear astonished eyes.

CLAUDIA

I want more.

LOUIS

What have you done?

Lestat puts her down on the bed and sits beside her, holding his wrist, obviously in pain.

CLAUDIA

More.

LESTAT

Yes, cherie, of course you want more. And I'll show you how to get it. You drink from morals, my beauty, but from me? Never again.

Still suffering, Lestat pulls the bell-rope.

CLOSE ON CLAUDIA

Being transformed. Becoming white yet robust, bright-eyed yet crazed. She shakes her beautiful curls and the dust falls from them. They are shining in the candlelight.

Louis cannot stop looking at her. He does not notices as --

The MAID enters.

MAID

Ah, quelle Belle enfant!

The maid comes near the bed, kneels in front of Claudia. Lestat lays his hand on the maid's throat and Claudia watches keenly.

LESTAT

Gently, cherie. They are so innocent. They must not be made to suffer.

Claudia lunges for the throbbing vein in the neck, locking on to the flowing blood.

The Maid is transfixed.

Close on Louis, his anguish, his fascinated horror.

LOUIS

You are the devil! You are the instrument of Satan!

LESTAT

That's enough, cherie. Stop before the heart stops.

He lets the dead maid onto the floor. Claudia looks at the corpse.

CLAUDIA

I want some more.

LESTAT

It's bet in the beginning, lest the death takes you down with it. yes, that's it. My child. My beloved child.

Lestat and Claudia sit on the Louis XVI settee. Claudia is a vision, a doll made out of pearl. Animated, voice crisp.

CLAUDIA

Where is Mamma?

The words echo in Louis' head, as he puts his hands to his ears.

LESTAT

Mamma's gone to Heaven, cherie, like that sweet lady over there. They all go to Heaven. And you did very well, cherie. Not a drop spilt. Very good! You're going to be our child now.

Lestat takes out his comb and begins to comb her hair.

LESTAT

Your mama's left you with us. She wants you to be happy.

LOUIS(WHISPER)

You are the devil! You are the instrument of Satan!

LESTAT

Shhhh! Do you want to frighten our little daughter?

CLAUDIA

I'm not your daughter.

LESTAT

Yes you are, my dearest. You are mine and Louis' daughter. You see Louis was going to leave us. He was going to go away. But now he's not. He's going to stay and make you happy.

Claudia runs over to him. She smiles at him.

CLAUDIA

Lou...eee...

Louis is conflicted. He cannot leave her. He touches her cheeks, her hair. Same as his. Vampire skin and hair. He draws in his breath, shocked by her beauty, then he embraces her as a father might a daughter. He looks over her shoulder to Lestat.

LOUIS

You fiend. You monster.

Lestat smiles

LESTAT

One happy family.

INT. ROOM. SAN FRANCISCO.

Malloy is open mouthed.

MALLOY

A child vampire!

He sees the tape has run out. He rapidly and clumsily sticks in another.

LOUIS

Shall we go on?

MALLOY

He did it to make you stay with him!

LOUIS

Perhaps. He knew me. He knew I would love her more than the waking world. But there was more to it than that. Perhaps in the end he did it -- to show me that he could. For he lavished affection on her, there was no doubt about that. Life was very different with madame Claudia, as you can imagine...

EXT. NEW SPANISH TOWNHOUSE. (RUE ROYALE, NEW ORLEANS)

Two husky movers bring in furniture through the back courtyard, past the fountain and the banana trees, up the back stairs and into ---

INT FLAT

Striped wallpaper gives way to flowers in the bedrooms. Huge four-poster beds in the bedrooms, and large chests, as big as coffins standing against the wall. Everywhere there are candles and pretty Louis XVI furniture. Lestat gives instructions to the movers.

WE MOVE INTO --

A DIMLY LIT PARLOUR

We see Claudia draped in lace standing on a petit point chair as a DRESSMAKER measure out a garment.

Louis can be seen, in an inner room.

DRESSMAKER

Monsuier, I need more light. I shall go slind if you do not bring me a lamp, or let me fit this child during the day. Ouch!

She has pricked her hand. A spot of blood appears on her finger Claudia takes her hand.

CLAUDIA

Let me kiss it better...

Claudia brings the hand to her lips. The dressmaker abruptly pulls her finger away, in pain again.

CU her finger - two holes showing.

LOUIS (VO)

A little child she was, but also a fierce killer, now capable of the ruthless pursuit of blood with all a child's demanding.

Lestat walks through - sees the dressmaker lying dead at Claudia's feet, Claudia still on the chair in the half-finished dress.

LESTAT

Claudia, Claudia, will you never learn? Who will we get now to finish your dress? A little practicality, cherie...

INT. LOUIS' BEDROOM. NIGHT.

LOUIS (VO)

She would sleep in my coffin, daily, curl her child's fingers round my hair as she dreamt of I know not what...

Claudia and Louis, sleeping in a coffin together, Claudia's fingers curling his hair.

INT. CLAUDIA'S BEDROOM.

Claudia playing with dolls, each as perfect and beautifully dressed as she is.

LOUIS (VO)

Mute and beautiful, she played with dolls, dressing them and undressing them by the hour.

INT. PARLOUR. NIGHT.

Claudia tinkling with her child's hands on the piano, picking out a hesitant tune.

LOUIS (VO)

Mute and beautiful, she killed. And to watch her kill was chilling.

EXT. SQUARE. NIGHT.

The tinkling of Claudia's piano is heard, over -

A well-dressed lady, walking through a square lit by gaslight. The lady hears a child's sobbing and stops, turns.

POV --

Claudia, the picture of lost innocence, sitting on a bench and crying.

WOMAN

Why are you crying, child?

The woman, all solicitude, goes to Claudia.

WOMAN

Are you lost, my love?

CLAUDIA

Mama...

WOMAN

Hush now, don't cry, We'll find her...

CLAUDIA

Mama...

The woman takes Claudia in her arms. Claudia nestles her head in her shoulder, her teeth near her neck.

LOUIS (VO)

They found death fast in those days, before she lernt to play with the, to delay the moment till she had taken what she wanted...

INT. PARLOUR. NIGHT.

A stern, stiff piano-teacher (male) beating time with a ruler as Claudia picks out scales on the piano. He raps her on the knuckles.

PIANO-TEACHER

The thumb girl! Mind the thumb!

Claudia glares at him, then returns to playing, improving rapidly.

INT. DOLL-SHOP. NIGHT.

Piano music over. Mozart, now well played.

Claudia staring at a glass case, inside of which are an array of eighteenth century dolls. An old doll-maker looks down on her.

DOLLMAKER

They are expensive, my dear. Maybe too expensive for a young girl like you...

EXT. STREET. NIGHT.

Claudia walking along, clutching the doll.

INT. DOLL-SHOP. NIGHT.

The dollmaker lying dead, two puncture marks in his throat, his dolls scattered all around him.

EXT. UNDERTAKER'S. NIGHT.

Claudia and Louis looking through the window at a display of coffins. Claudia point at the smallest one.

LOUIS (VO)

She grew, yet stayed the same. She wanted a bed of her own, yet would climb back into mine.

INT. CLAUDIA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

The child's coffin on the floor. The lid lifts. Claudia emerges, yawning, wanders through the flat into. -

LOUIS' BEDROOM

Where his coffin sits. She slides the lid off, and curls in beside him.

INT. PARLOUR. NIGHT.

Claudia playing the piano, now with remarkable dexterity. The piano-teacher sits mute beside her. As she plays, he topples over and falls to the ground. We see the puncture-marks in his neck. Lestat, hearing the noise, comes in.

LESTAT

Claudia, Claudia! Didn't I tell you, never in the house!

Claudia smiles to herself, keeps playing.

INT. CLAUDIA'S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

CANARIES
sing in a cage, above a child's coffin.

Claudia is writing at a secretaire. She is writing in a diary with a quill pen in an adult hand. She murmurs the date as she writes.

CLAUDIA

September 21st, one hour after sunset. The sky is still violet, the way Louis loves and as always Lestat was gone when we rose.

She looks up and sees Louis in the doorway, watching her.

LOUIS

How did you learn to write, Claudia?

CLAUDIA

The way I learn everything. By watching you.

She closes the diary.

CLAUDIA

But you never let me see you kill, Louis.

LOUIS

Lestat taught you all you need to know about that.

CLAUDIA

Infant death, he calls me. Sweet daughter death. You know what he calls you? Merciful death.

LOUIS

He jests.

CLAUDIA

Why does he call you that?

LOUIS

Hush, Claudia don't talk about such things. Show me your book.

She opens it. Inside there is a beautiful pen and ink portrait of Louis.

LOUIS

Claudia! You did that?

CLAUDIA

Sit still. It's not finished -

She begins to fill in the sketch.

LOUIS (VO)

Time can pass fast for mortals when they're happy. With us it was the same.

EXT. RUE ROYALE. NIGHT (1800'S)

Street lamps are oil at this period. Houses are now tall two-story Spanish style. Streets are flagstone. Passing carriages are black.

LOUIS (VO)

It was a very different life. And a new century was beginning. what had once been a small godforsaken French colony was growing into a great port, giving us an endless train of magnificent strangers...

Claudia, Louis and Lestat, dressed in the same clothes walking through a racuous carnival with sideshows. Crowd milling around, sailors, whores, children, thieves, freed slaves, Indians. They pass a Wild West display, jugglers, fire-eaters, three-card tricksters...

LOUIS (VO)

All human life was here, for the taking. And we took, all three of us, in our different ways...

They come to a raised platform where a troupe of perfectly-formed midgets do a burleque show.

Claudia stops. She stares, at these small, perfect creatures like herself, intrigued and troubled.

Louis and Lestat walk on, not noticing as --

CLAUDIA

Circles the troupe. She comes to a small tent, behind it. At the entrance stands a midget youth.

YOUTH

You want to come inside, lovely?

CLAUDIA walks up to him.

YOUTH

Ever been kissed?

Claudia shakes her head. He kisses her. Claudia allow her to be kissed, then bites his tongue. he youth struggles, as Claudia holds him and drains him. She lets him go as Louis appears behind her.

CLAUDIA

She's like me, Louis. Small and yet not small at all. Like me.

Louis hurriedly draws her away.

LOUIS (VO)

I watched her grow yet stay the same, her doll-like face possessed of adult eyes, eery, powerful, seductive...

INT. FLAT NIGHT.

Claudia playing the piano, now like a demonic Liszt. Louis writing.

Lestat appears in the doorway. He has a big box in his arms.

CLAUDIA

Another doll? I have ten, you realise.

FOCUS ON early 19th Century French dolls -- wood, glass, wax, bisque -- all around the bedroom, on chairs, on the bed. Some newish, some tattered old.

LESTAT

Well, I thought you could use another.

He hands her the box. It is a fine Parisian Jumeau doll. She likes it and stokes its face.

CLAUDIA

Why always on this night?

LESTAT

What night? What do you mean?

CLAUDIA

You always give me the doll on the same night of the year.

LESTAT

I didn't realise.

CLAUDIA

Is this my birthday?

He examines the other dolls.

LESTAT

Some of these are so old and tattered. You should throw them away.

CLAUDIA

I have. Or there would be twice as many.

LESTAT

But you're the fairest by far.

CLAUDIA

You dress me like a doll. You make my hair like a doll. Why?

Lestat doesn't answer. Claudia stands up quickly, and strides out into the -

PARLOUR, where Louis is reading by the window. She walks to a mirrored cabinet, takes out a scissors and begins cutting her hair.

CLAUDIA

You want me to be a doll forever?

LOUIS

Claudia - don't -

CLAUDIA

Why not?

She continues cutting. She sees Lestat emerge from her bedroom in the mirror behind her then turns to him, an angelic little boy's face now with soft curls around her face.

CLAUDIA

Can't I change, like everybody else?

She walks past him, back into her bedroom and slams the door.

A beat. Louis looks from the mass of blonde hair on the floor to Lestat. Then a HORRID SCREAM pierces the silence. More screams, which become roars.

INT. CLAUDIA'S BEDROOM.

She stands before the dressing-table, all her long hair grown back over her shoulders. She holds it with both hands, screaming and screaming. Lestat and Louis come through the door.

CLAUDIA

Which of you did it? Which of you made me the way I am?

LESTAT

What you are? You would be something other than you are?

CLAUDIA

And if I cut my hair again?

LESTAT

It will grow back again!

CLAUDIA

But it wasn't always so! I had a mother once! And Louis - he had a wife! He was mortal the same as she! And so was I!

LOUIS

Claudia -

She turns on Lestat.

CLAUDIA

You made us what we are, didn't you?

LESTAT

Stop her Louis!

CLAUDIA

DID YOU DO IT TO ME????

She runs at him with the scissors, scoring his face. The cut heals. She scores it again. It heals again. She stares at him in horror.

CLAUDIA (WHISPERING)

How did you do it?

LESTAT

And why should I tell you? It's in my power.

CLAUDIA

Why yours alone? Tell me how it was done!!!!

LESTAT

Be glad I made you what you are! You'd be dead not if I hadn't.

He storms out. Louis goes to Claudia and picks her up in his arms.

LOUIS (TENDERLY)

We're immortal. You've always known that.

CLAUDIA

Tell me why...you've got to tell me...

Louis carries her outside, onto the porch. There is an old flower-seller going by.

LOUIS

You see the old woman? That will never happen to you. You'll never grow old. You will never die.

CLAUDIA

And it means something else too, doesn't it? I shall never, ever grow up.

She clutches Louis desperately.

CLAUDIA

I hate him. But I cannot bear to lose you. You're the only companion I have, forever. You taught me everything I know. Please tell me Louis. Tell me how it came to be that I am this... thing...

Louis strokes her beautiful face, her hair.

LOUIS

Come... I've something to show you...

EXT. NEW ORLEANS STREETS. NIGHT.

Louis walking, holding Claudia as if he was about to lose her.

LOUIS (VO)

Though everything was changed, through the years had warped the contours of the streets, I found my way there, aware that I'd always known where it was and avoided it, not wanting to pass the doorway where I'd first heard Claudia cry.

Louis back in the same street, outside the same house. He stands with Claudia at the window. There is a family inside, a picture of domestic tranquility.

LOUIS

I heard you crying. You were there in a room with your mother. You were hugging her for warmth, crying pitifully as you had been for days. Because your mother was dead...

Claudia stares at him, suddenly very cold, very alert.

LOUIS

I opened the shutters... I came into the room... I felt pity for you. Pity, but something else.

He can't go on. Claudia's eyes are remoreseless.

CLAUDIA

You... fed on me?

LOUIS

And he found me with you. I ran, sickened at what I'd done. Then he cut his wrist and fed you from him. I tried to stop him, but you were a vampire then. And have been every night hereafter.

CLAUDIA

You both did it?

LOUIS

I took your life. He gave you another one.

Claudia speaks through indrawn breath.

CLAUDIA

And here it is. And I hate you both.

She runs.

INT. ROOM SAN FRANCISCO.

Malloy and Louis.

MALLOY

But why did you tell her?

LOUIS

How could I not? She had to know.

MALLOY

And did you lose her? Did she go?

LOUIS

Where would she have gone? She was a child, and beautiful, heartbreaking merciless child. And I had made her that...

EXT. STREETS. NIGHT.

Louis, walking the streets, shivering.

LOUIS

I walked all night. I walked as I walked years before when my mind swam with guilt at the thought of killing. I found myself at the Cathedral.

A cathedral rising out of the mist, the doors open.

LOUIS

I thought of all the things I had done and couldn't undo. And I longed for one second's peace...

Louis walks towards the doors, inside.

INT. CATHEDRAL. NIGHT.

Louis enters. The dim lights of candles. A sacristan tending the altar, an old woman praying -- otherwise empty.

LOUIS

I had no fear. If anything I longed for something to happen, for the stones to tremble as I entered the foyer.

Louis walking down the nave of the church. He stops by the alter.

LOUIS

I almost genuflected from old habit. I almost prayed.

Louis sits in a pew.

LOUIS

And then it struck me.

Louis' POV - the cross, the statues, the tabernacle.

LOUIS

What if the statues gave an image to nothing? What if I was the supernatural in this cathedral? The only immortal under this roof. And I felt nothing but loneliness. Loneliness to the point of madness.

Suddenly a hand is laid on his shoulder. Louis almost jumps. He turns and sees the face of a grey-haired priest.

PRIEST

You wish to go to confession? I was about to lock up the church.

Louis stares at him, tears in his eyes.

PRIEST

You are troubled, aren't you? Can I help?

LOUIS

It's too late, too late -

PREIST

No, it's never too late. Come...

The priest gestures to the confessional. Louis rises, slowly.

INT. CONFESSIONAL.

Louis, kneeling in the darkness. The hatch slides back.

LOUIS

Bless me father for I have sinned so often and so long, I don't know how to change nor beg for forgiveness.

PRIEST

Son, God is infinite in his capacity to forgive. Tell him from your heart.

LOUIS

Murders, father, death after death. The woman who died two nights ago in Jackson Square, I killed her. And thousands of others before her. I have walked the streets of New Orleans like the Grim reaper. And fed on human life for my own. I am a vampire, father, and have turned the one I love most of all into on too --

The hatch slams down. Louis rises, confused, and the door is flung open, the priest stands there.

PRIEST

Do you know the meaning of sacrilege?

Louis rises. Walks out.

LOUIS

Then there is no mercy.

His face comes into the light. The priest steps back, open-mouthed.

LOUIS

You talk of sacrilege. Why if God exists does he suffer me to exist?

He bares his fangs. The priest runs, screaming. Gets to the bellrope, begins to ring the bell. Louis swoops on him.

LOUIS

Why does he suffer me to live?

Louis takes him, lifting him from the floor, till his feet stop kicking.

INT. FLAT. NIGHT.

Louis enters, slidently, like a corpse. He hears a voice behind him.

CLAUDIA

Locked together in hatred --

He turns, sees her sitting in the darkness. She is wearing a tiny nightgown fo stiched lace and pearls, wierdly adult and seductive. She comes towards him.

CLAUDIA

But I can't hate you Louis.

She sprays perfume over her body as she comes nearer.

CLAUDIA

Is this the aroma of a mortal child?

She whispers.

CLAUDIA

Louis. Lover.

She kisses his cheek.

CLAUDIA

I was mortal to you. You gave me your immortal kiss. You became my mother and my father. And so I'm yours. Forever.

She takes his face in her hands.

CLAUDIA

But now's the time to end it, Louis. Now's the time to leave him.

LOUIS

He'll never let us go.

Claudia smiles.

CLAUDIA

Oh... really?

EXT. DOCKLANDS. NEW ORLEANS. NIGHT.

A sailing ship, by the docks. Louis and Claudia talking to a shipping-clerk.

LOUIS (VO)

So we made plans. She was convinced there were others of our kind in Europe, that they would have the answers Lestat couldn't provide. Lestat whom she now hated, who she thought she could be free of. I doubted, but then she had a suprise in store...

INT. FLAT. NIGHT

Lestat playing the piano. Louis reading. Claudia enters, wearing a cape and hat. She walks to the piano, sits at the end of the piano and stares at him as he plays.

LESTAT

What is it now? You irritate me! Your very presence irritates me!

CLAUDIA (SWEETLY)

Does it?

LESTAT

Yes. And I'll tell you something else! I've met someone who will make a better vampire than both of you.

CLAUDIA

Is that supposed to frighten me?

LESTAT

You're spoilt because you're an only child. You need a brother. Or I do. I'm weary of you both.

CLAUDIA

I suppose we could people the world with vampires, the three of us.

LESTAT

Not you my dear.

CLAUDIA

You're a liar. But you upset my plans.

LESTAT

What plans?

CLAUDIA

I came to make peace with you, even if you're the father of lies. I want things to be as they were.

Louis perks up, puzzled.

LESTAT

Stop pestering me then!

CLAUDIA

Oh, Lestat. I must do more than that. I've brought a present for you.

LESTAT

Then I hope its a beautiful woman with endowments you will never possess.

Claudia stares at him for a moment.

CLAUDIA

Better than that.

She takes his hand and leads him into an inner room. Louis follows behind.

CLAUDIA

You haven't fed enough. I can tell by your colour.

INT. DINING ROOM. NIGHT.

Two beautiful youths, lying asleep on a couch, by a table full with a half-eaten meal. Lestat sighs.

LESTAT

Oh, Claudia, you've outdone yourself. Where did you find them?

CLAUDIA

Drunk on brandy wine. A thimblefull. I thought of you when I saw them.

LESTAT

We forgive each other then?

Claudia stares at him, sitting. She nods.

Lestat bites into the neck of one of the youths, sucks greddily and horribly. Claudia watches him without expression. He finished one, is about to take the other when he staggers. He looks at Claudia.

LESTAT

Absinthe? You gave then absinthe?

CLAUDIA

No. Laudanum.

Lestat stares wildly at her, tries to move towars her, then slips to the floor.

LESTAT

Laudanum!

CLAUDIA

Yes. It killed them, unfortunately. But it keeps the blood warm.

Lestat tries to rise.

LESTAT

Ah Louis, Louis, she killed them... and let me drink...

Louis watches, apalled. He goes to move.

CLAUDIA

Don't Louis --

LESTAT

Louis, put me in my coffin...

CLAUDIA

I'll put you in your coffin. Forever.

She pulls a knife out from under her shawl, walks rapidly to him and slashes his throat. Blood explodes from it.

LOUIS

Claudia! Don't do this thing!!!

LESTAT

Louis, Louis, I gave you the gift --- help me ---

Claudia lacerates his face. Blood pours from everywhere. She plunges the knife in his chest. He falls back, fangs bared, clutching the knife. Claudia leaps on him then, bites deep into his neck as he dies. Louis screams, runs forward, pulls her away.

LOUIS

What have you done, Claudia -

He drags her off Lestat, tries to pull her out of the room. She hisses at him.

CLAUDIA

Louis! Look what's happening to him!!

Louis looks. The fllor is a sea of blood. Lestat has begun to shrivel, as if he'd been a bag of blood. His skin is shrivelling against his bones like parchment, his eyes are slipping back into his skull-like face. His lush, beautiful hair remains unchanged. But his clothes are virtually being emptied of the body. It is no more than bones, wrapped in paper and the pupils of the eyes suddenly roll up into the papered skull.

LOUIS

Lestat. Oh, God forgive us.

CLAUDIA

Don't mock me, Louis. Help me.

She stares at the shrivelled skeleton in its skin wrapping. She is fascinated. She sees the vampiric blood flow all over the floor. She touches it and brings her finger to her lips.

CLAUDIA

Goodnight, sweet prince, may flights of devils wing you to your rest.

Louis walks forward, touches the skeleton, the blonde hair.

LOUIS

He's dead, Claudia, dead.

CLAUDIA

The one good lesson he taught me, Louis. Never drink from the dead.

She stands up, all business suddenly.

CLAUDIA

Help me. We must get rid of him.

She drags the coverlet from the table, knocking the crockery over the dead youths, and wraps Lestat's skeleton in it. She takes a bunch of chrysanthemums and places them in his skeleton hands.

CLAUDIA

Should we burn him? Bury him? What would he have liked, Louis?

LOUIS

Don't mock, Claudia...

CLAUDIA

The swamp...

EXT. CARRIAGE. NIGHT.

Louis whipping the horses. Claudia beside him. Lestat's skeleton in the back, with the bodies of the two dead youths.

CLAUDIA

In Europe, Louis. We shall meet our own kind. Find the one who made him. Learn what it means.

LOUIS

And suppose the one who made him knows nothing and the vampire who made him knows nothing, and it goes back, nothing proceeding from nothing, until there is nothing! And we must live with the knowledge that there is no knowledge.

The carriage pulls up by a swamp. Mist everywhere. Overhanging creepers.

LOUIS

And if we find the one who made him? Do we tell him we destroyed his own creation? The vampire Lestat?

Louis drags out the bodies of the boys. He slides them into the waters of the swamp. We see ripples in the water and the churning of alligators, as they attack the corpses. Louis takes Lestat's skeleton in his arms. He slides it into the waters. The alligators speed towards it.

CLAUDIA

He belongs with those reptiles, Louis. He deserved to die.

LOUIS

Then maybe so do we. Every night of our lives. He was my brother. My maker. He gave me this life, whatever it is.

CLAUDIA

I did it for us, Louis. So we could be free.

He stands there, saying nothing.

CLAUDIA

Louis, look at me.

LOUIS (BITTERLY)

I can't. Go away from me.

Claudia is shocked to her core. She steps back. Louis stares at the rippling waters. Gradually the movement of alligators stops. Then he hears a sound he hasn't heard in years. Soft, chocking. He turns, sees Claudia sitting by a cypress tree, like a little girl for the first time in years. She is weeping copiously.

LOUIS

Claudia - You're crying -

We see her face, tears of blood running down it. She is heartbroken, lost.

CLAUDIA

You never talked to me like that - in all these years.

LOUIS

And you never cried -

CLAUDIA

I can't bear it when you do - I would die rather than lose you Louis. I would die the way he died.

Louis gathers her in his arms.

LOUIS

Hush, Claudia, hush now my dear -

CLAUDIA

Tell me you don't hate me Louis. I did it for you -

Louis walks her towards the carriage.

LOUIS

I love you Claudia. Always. And we are free now, Claudia. No Lestat. Just the two of us, beginning the great adventure of our lives.

He lifts her into the carriage and drives off, leaving the silent waters of the swamp.

INT. FLAT. NIGHT.

Sturdy mullato workmen lifting cases and trunks out of the apartment. All the furniture is covered in white sheets. Claudia dressed in a cap and hat, is playing the piano by the light of one remaining oil-lamp.

Louis comes from her room with the cage of canaries.

LOUIS

The birds. We forgot about the birds. There's nothing for it but to let them go.

He opens the cage, and the canaries fly around the room.

There is a knocking on the door. Claudia falters.

CLAUDIA

What was that?

LOUIS

The workmen must have a trunk - don't stop, cherie -

He goes downstairs. Claudia plays a moment, then stops, perturbed. She goes to the window. Then sees something out there that makes her face go white. She screams.

CLAUDIA

Louis!!!

THE STAIRWAY --

Louis walking to the door. The knocking gets louder.

THE PARLOUR --

Claudia runs for the stairs, after Louis.

THE HALLWAY --

Louis reaches the door. The knocking gets louder. He opens the door as -

CLAUDIA -

Reaches the stairs. She screams -

CLAUDIA

Don't Louis -

But Louis has opened the door. Nothing there. He looks back at Claudia, puzzled, then at the door again when, swooping into his vision comes the nightmare image of --

LESTAT --

In filthy swamp-soaked rags, robust again, but his flesh shrivelled, covered in scars, his eyes riddled, bloodshot. he roars.

>>Suite>>