The Addiction is a Abel Ferrara film, centred on Lili Taylor, who plays a philosophy student called Kathleen who is dragged into an alley by another woman and bitten on the neck. She then develops a thirst for blood and an aversion to daylight after falling ill. It was Ferrara’s first film after his excellent remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and his ill-fated erotic thriller with Madonna, Dangerous Game, and finds him at his highest level as a filmmaker—he had at this point done King of New York and Bad Lieutenant back to back.
After making these bigger movies, he opted for this allegorical take on the vampire genre. Like all of his movies at that time, there is a lot of Catholic symbolism, and the concept of sin is important. This is interesting, because Ferrara is not a religious man at all, but his screenwriter, Nicholas St John, is. The films they wrote together are full of a fight between their ideologies. They would stop working together after their next collaboration The Funeral.
Even more so than Bad Lieutenant, this film brings the conflict between the two of them to a head over its very short 80 minutes, culminating in an ambiguous ending. The ’80s and ’90s were a time when the vampire film came back for a variety of reasons like Near Dark or The Hunger. The Addiction also works as a metaphor for drug addiction and to a lesser extent Aids not unlike Guillermo Del Toro’s debut Cronos. It features one of Lili Taylor’s strongest performances. Christopher Walken also appears as a William Burroughs-quoting vampire, and Annabella Sciorra also plays a key role.
It’s beautifully shot in high-contrast black and white—a fine movie that is also Guardian’s main film critic Peter Bradshaw’s favourite film (which is interesting because he’s usually pretty hard on genre films).
The disc features a bunch of extras, including a new 4K scan that has been commissioned by Arrow and approved by Ferrara and his cinematographer, Ken Kelsch. A commentary by Ferrara that is moderated by Brad Stevens (author of the book Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision), plus a new documentary that includes interviews with Taylor, Walken and many others who were involved in the film. Additional interviews, an older featurette, the trailer and a booklet with new writing on the film round out the package.