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Blu-ray Review: The Addiction (1995)

Kathleen (Lili Taylor), a philosophy student livin’ in the concrete jungle of 1990’s Manhattan, is dragged into an alleyway one night by Casanova (Annabella Sciorra) and given a little love nibble…you know, the kind usually reserved for rabid wolves and the like. Of course the bite makes her sick to her shit, and it doesn’t take much to assume she’s turning into one of Dracula’s daughters (aversion to sunlight, thirst for human blood, et.al.). As Kathleen falls further into her new role as creature of the night and begins injecting blood from her victims directly into her veins before going the more toothy avenue. Will she be able to find herself as her being becomes drenched in blood?

Filmed in stark black and white, which adds an air of cold grittiness (especially when photographs of human atrocity are inserted) and at times beautiful chiaroscuro (as echoed by the classical paintings on display), The Addiction is a visually arresting film to behold (thanks to the assured hands of Director Abel Ferrara and Cinematographer Ken Kelsch). Speaking of grit, Ferrara once again chooses to film on the streets of his beloved New York City…streets that become a character themselves…implacable, un-moving yet covered in teaming violence…a reflection of the true souls of those that walk upon them.

But as good as it looks, this film is first and foremost a character study of one person’s descent into the more feral side of humanity thanks to her new found preternatural existence…in other words, Kathleen becomes the true base human; violent, living only to survive…while also becoming the walking, talking personification of a junkie’s addiction made flesh. Speaking of our heroin(e), Lili Taylor as Kathleen gives one hell of a fantastic performance as she goes from meek college girl, to scared addict, to unsympathetic predator all played with equal conviction and believability. Also on hand are some great supporting actors as well including strong turns from Edie Falco as Jean, Kathleen’s college friend who finds herself drawn deeper than she’d like into our antagonist’s bizarre existence, the aforementioned Sciorra as the sophisticate vampiress who starts this whole mess, and the incomparable Christopher Walken as Peina, an enlightened vampire who is almost willing himself to regain his humanity.

As essential as The Addiction is for the collection of any lover of the vampire mythos, this Blu-ray release from Arrow Video has multiple extras that make this edition even more of a must-have! First up we have an all new audio commentary from Director Ferrara (moderated by critic and biographer Brad Stevens). This is a free form, anecdote packed recollection of the film, and is engaging due to Abel’s irascible personality…he’s a true character and a gifted and entertaining one at that! Next up we get a new Ferrara helmed doc featuring interviews with Taylor, Walken, Composer Joe Delia, and Kelsch that contains fascinating tales of how the film came to be, not to mention the cast and crews experiences with addiction, in a raw and unpolished format. Following that are an interview with Ferrara, an appreciation of the film by Stevens, archival footage of Ferrara editing the film, a photo gallery, and the film’s trailer.

A thoughtful, philosophical, and bleak examination into the parellels of the vampire myth as allegory to human savagery, The Addiction is a must own for lovers of both introspective fright flicks and bloodsucker cinema…a real treat both visually and intellectually, this is a thinking man’s horror film at it’s finest!

 

 

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