Howard Allen Frances O’Brien, known to the public as author Anne Rice, is famous for her novels in the genres of Gothic fiction, erotic literature, and Christian literature, which is an interesting combination, to say the least. Sadly, Rice passed away in December 2021 at the age of 80 due to complications from a stroke, per The New York Times. She became most famous for her vampire novels, The Vampire Chronicles, which began in 1976 with Interview with a Vampire. Lestat de Lioncourt, a fictitious vampire who was a French aristocrat in the 18th Century, serves as the central figure in the novel series.
At the time of this writing, the novel series consists of 10 contributions to the overall story, with the most recent and final book, Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat, having been published in 2018. It is a common thing in the entertainment industry to create book to screen adaptations. Great examples of this are Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Good Omens, whose onscreen stories have propelled beyond the page. The following films and television series based on Anne Rice’s works are no exception to this trend of adaptation. Here’s how they all rank.
6 Exit to Eden
The 1994 film Exit to Eden was directed by Garry Marshall and adapted from Rice’s novel of the same name. The film follows Elliot Slater (Paul Mercurio), a photographer from Australia, who manages to get the one and only picture of a worldwide jewel robber named Omar. To try to prevent his photo from being made public, Omar (Stuart Wilson) and his partner in crime, Nina (Iman), follow Elliot on vacation to a private island called Eden, where he is going for an S&M themed adventure. The whole group is also chased by two law enforcement officers, Shelia (Rosie O’Donnell) and Fred (Dan Aykroyd), who want to catch Omar and expose his identity to the public. Dana Delany also stars, portraying Mistress Lisa, the head dominatrix of the island, whom Elliot falls in love with, leading to a complicated time for all.
Critics hated the film due to the original story being mashed with Rice’s novel’s elements. Its box office revenue seems to agree, with the movie only making $3 million on a $6.5 million budget. Famed review critic Roger Ebert went so far as to say, “On the first page of my notes, I wrote ‘Starts slow.’ On the second page, I wrote ‘Boring.’ On the third page, I wrote ‘Endless!'” and noted that Exit to Eden is “supposed to be a kinky sex comedy, but it keeps getting distracted.”
5 The Young Messiah
From her many novels, Rice occasionally wrote about things that were not vampires, witches, or considered Gothic. One such book was Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, which is about Jesus before adulthood. The 2016 film adaptation was called The Young Messiah and starred Adam Greaves-Neal as a seven-year-old Jesus, telling the story of his family’s move from Alexandria in Egypt to Nazareth. Things are made even more harrowing by the fact that they are not aware King Herod’s son (Jonathan Bailey) is tracking Jesus and wants him dead.
Though rather predictable in its story, the film does a good job of utilizing its source material. While Steven D. Greydanus of National Catholic Register noted, “The Young Messiah offers an imaginative vision of the most iconic and celebrated family in human history that is both surprising and familiar, warmly human and credible yet also different,” the film was considered a box office bomb, only making $7 million on its $18.5 million budget.
4 Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches
A more modern adaptation of an Anne Rice novel is the 2023 series Mayfair Witches, based on her novel, The Witching Hour. This series premiered on AMC in January 2023 and was renewed for a second season by February. Bringing to life the story of Dr. Rowan Fielding, a neurosurgeon who discovers she comes from a long line of witches based in New Orleans and is their heir, is Alexandra Daddario. When her power, which allows her to injury with only her thoughts, begins to grow, Rowan must turn to her newly discovered and somewhat dysfunctional family to learn the control she needs, while also navigating life. A powerful shape-shifter named Lasher (Jack Huston), who is bound to and essentially haunting her witches line also becomes a bit of a problem.
Critics have called the series too slow and wish for more action packed sequences within the storyline. Variety‘s Daniel D’Addario noted, “There’s a bit too much dross amid what works — a sign of the times in terms of series orders being bulked out beyond what the story can sustain, and a reminder that, as a writer, Rice was not known for the gift of concision.”
3 Interview With the Vampire
The most well known of Rice’s books is Interview With the Vampire and, in 1994, director Neil Jordan made a surprisingly well-received adaptation of the famous novel. The film version of Interview With the Vampire is set during the 18th Century and chronicles the transformation of Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) into a vampire alongside his mentor, the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise), and the vampire Claudia (Kristen Dunst). Louis speaks to the journalist, Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater), and details how he learned that his companions and many other vampires he has encountered have not been as fortunate as he in surviving on the need for the blood of the innocent.
2 Queen of the Damned
Based on Rice’s 1988 book of the same name, the 2002 film adaptation Queen of the Damned takes place after the events of Interview With the Vampire. At this point, the vampire Lestat (Stuart Townsend) has become a global rock star with a sultry sound and penchant for feeding on his adoring fans. His music awakens the ancient sleeping queen of the vampires, Akasha (Aaliyah), who decides to take over the world. Lestat must partner up with an equally ancient coven to stop her before it’s too late.
This film, with its campy over-the-top idea of vampires, has gained a cult following, making it one of the Anne Rice adaptations every fan should see. Sadly, Aaliyah passed away at the age of 22 in a plane crash, which also took the lives of seven other people, before the completion of the movie, and it was finished in her honor.
1 AMC’s Interview With the Vampire
Another of the more modern adaptations, AMC’s 2022 television series version of Interview With the Vampire is set in the same universe as the Mayfair Witches. The series was created by Rolin Jones and follows the basic plot from Rice’s book while reimagining the characters for the current climate and audience. The series garnered both acclaim and unnecessary criticism for the casting of a Black actor, Jacob Anderson, in the lead role of Louis de Pointe du Lac, but it seems to be working out well, as the series has been renewed for a second season.
In its first season, the show tackled some important early-20th Century societal topics such as race, sexuality, and power. This adaptation of Interview With the Vampire takes into account the sexual relationship between Louis and Lestat from the novel series, which was only hinted at in the previous film version, and makes it an important topic as well.