In San Francisco, a vampire named Louis tells his 200-year-long life story to an interviewer (Daniel Molloy, although only referred to as "the boy" in the novel).
In 1791, Louis was a young plantation owner living south of New Orleans, Louisiana. Distraught and suicidal over the death of his brother (his wife and daughter in the movie), which he blames himself for, Louis is approached by a vampire named Lestat, who desires his plantation. Lestat turns Louis into a vampire (although initially Louis merely begs to be killed) and the two become immortal companions. Lestat spends some time feeding off the local plantation slaves, while Louis feeds from animals; Louis finds it impossible to disconnect himself from his mortal morals and engage in murder.
Louis and Lestat are forced to leave when Louis' slaves begin to fear the monsters with which they live and instigate an uprising. Louis sets his own plantation aflame; he and Lestat exterminate the plantation slaves to keep word from spreading about vampires living in Louisiana. Louis bends under Lestat's influence and begins feeding from humans, slowly coming to terms with his 'killer' nature while also becoming increasingly repulsed by what he perceives as Lestat's total lack of compassion for the humans he preys upon. Escaping to New Orleans proper, Louis feeds off a plague-ridden young girl one night, whom he finds next to the corpse of her mother. As the girl reaches the point of death, Lestat then turns her into a vampire "daughter" for them, naming her "Claudia" (her real name is never revealed).
Louis is horrified that Lestat has turned a child into a vampire, but instantly falls in love with Claudia and cares for her tenderly and dotingly. She takes to killing easily, but Claudia begins to hate Lestat as she realizes she can never grow up; although her mind matures into an intelligent, assertive and seductive woman, her body remains that of a five-year-old girl. After 65 years of living together, Claudia hatches a plot to dispose of Lestat by poisoning him and cutting his throat. Claudia and Louis then dump his body into a nearby swamp. After realizing that they seem to now be the only vampires living in America, Claudia desires to travel to Europe with Louis and seek out "Old World" vampires.
As Louis and Claudia prepare to flee to Europe, Lestat appears, having survived and recovered from Claudia's attack, and attacks them in turn. Louis sets fire to their home and barely escapes with Claudia, leaving a furious Lestat to be consumed by the flames...
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