Blu-ray Review: The Addiction



Director Abel Ferrara truly understood how to bring the gutty gritty feeling of New York City onto the screen. Whether is be The Driller Killer, Ms. 45, King of New York or Bad Lieutenant, Ferrara framed a dirty look to the Big Apple that neither Martin Scorcese or Woody Allen completely grabbed when they tried. While black and white film is seen as a fantastic way to enhance the grit, deepen the shadow and highlight the sweat, somehow when Abel finally went without hues on his home turf, he created his sweetest and cleanest view. The Addiction was his venturing into the world of vampirism, but it also became his Weegee influenced tribute to his city.

Kathleen Conklin (Say Anything‘s Lili Taylor) is studying philosophy at college with her pal Jean (Nurse Jackie‘s Edie Falco). While walking home after class a woman (Jungle Fever‘s Annabella Sciorra) grabs her, tells her some odd stuff and bites her neck. Kathleen survives the bleeding and heads to the hospital. She’s told that she’s lucky to be alive. But is she alive? She begins to hate sunlight, can’t stand eating food and craves blood. It appears that she has been turned into a vampire. She roams the streets looking for victims. While she is turning, she encounters a vampire (Christopher Walken) who believes he has figured a way to get off the addiction to blood and convert himself back into human. But does Kathleen have any chance of becoming human again and eating hotdogs once more instead of sucking her classmates dry?

The movie’s cast is first rate including having Sciorra, Falco and Michael Imperioli before The Sopranos hit HBO. Paul Calderon (Pulp Fiction) plays a teacher who learns a lesson from Kathleen. He was one of the screen writers on Bad Lieutenant. Kathryn Erbe (Oz nails a look of shock when her student character gets more than a hicky from Kathleen. Walken is pure Walken even if he’s trying to be human again.

What stands out watching the film in Blu-ray is how Ferrara enhances the locations so a viewer might want to visit the place instead of flee the scene. Cinematographer Ken Kelsch also handled the camera during The Driller Killer and Bad Lieutenant. The two made this a crisp visual seduction for viewers instead of warning us to flee. This is there version of Woody Allen’s Manhattan except they don’t mind us knowing the main character is a bloodsucker searching for victims on the island. Doesn’t hurt that Erbe looks like Mariel Hemingway when she’s picked up at the library.

The Addiction holds up because it’s not a paint by numbers vampire flick. This has a lot more depth than the Twilight kiddies.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The black and white transfer to 1080p brings out the contrast. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD. The levels bring out the hip hop soundtrack along with quiet street moments. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary with Abel Ferrara, moderated by critic and biographer Brad Stevens. This what you’d expect from hanging with Abel. He asks them to turn up the opening song in his headphones. He admits they went black and white after getting into Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire.

Talking with the Vampires (30:55) is a documentary made by Ferrara for the Blu-ray. He gets back in touch with actors Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor, composer Joe Delia and Ken Kelsch. The snow falls on Manhattan. Lili mentions she was dating Imperioli at the time of filming. Abel gets great talks and unusual tangents from his cinematic pals

Interview with Abel Ferrara (16:19) has him discuss the rarity of having a female protagonist. He also talks about going low budget after making a few medium budget films such as Body Snatchers and Dangerous Game with Madonna.

Video Appreciation with Brad Stevens (8:47) has the film historian discuss how the film resembles Ms. 45 except different kinds of assaults set the women off.

Abel Ferrara Edits The Addiction (8:43) is a vintage piece of video from the post-production. Today’s film students will be shocked that this was a time before digital editing was the common place.

Gallery are 17 shots from an outside location shoot.

Original trailer (0:36) uses still photos and doesn’t give a clue that this is about vampires.

Arrow Video presents The Addiction. Directed by Abel Ferrara. Screenplay by: Nicholas St. John. Starring: Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra, Edie Falco and Kathryn Erbe. Rated: R. Running Time: 82 minutes. Released: June 26, 2018.

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