In honor of the Iranian black and white vampire flick A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night being released on Netflix Streaming this week, I thought I’d talk about another contemporary monochromatic vampire flick with a female bloodsucker as the lead – The Addiction.
Directed by gritty and unflinching crime/exploitation maestro Abel Ferrara, The Addicition doesn’t seem to get mentioned much or at all in horror circles, but it’s as interesting and relevant now as it was in 1995 when it was first released.
Social commentary in horror films is nothing new – in fact, it usually lends itself in creating a longstanding and enduring piece of cinema; a celluloid sign of the times. There was the consumerism of the 70s in Dawn of the Dead; distrust of strangers and the fear of Cold War in 1982’s The Thing; and there’s the heroin boom of the 90s in The Addiction. There was a reason that decade begat the term “heroin chic“: never had it been purer and cheaper than it was in the early 90s, and never was it more deadly.
Drugs are a common theme in Ferrara’s films – as well as his life. The star of his film Ms. 45 and writer of Bad Lieutenant, Zoë Tamerlis Lund, died of a heroin overdose just a few years after The Addiction was released. There is perhaps no better director to handle the real life horror of drug abuse – the allegory of the undead in constant search of fulfillment – than Ferrara himself.
The subject matter is delivered in the most collegiate of ways, aided by the fact that the story follows a college student. Shot in black and white, the films feels at times almost like a student film or a documentary. The dialogue is verbose and poetic, with constant references to philosophers like Kierkegaard, Goethe, and Nietzsche. It’s about as Shakespearean of a vampire flick as you’ll ever come across.
Though completely different tonally, there are similarities between The Addiction and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, more than just their desaturated look and female leads. Girl also deals with a contemporary issue: the Middle East’s view of women and their lack of rights, their subservient role. Girl jams a big middle finger in the face of all that and wants the audience to do the same, much like Ferrara was trying to desperately grab the viewers by the shoulders and shake them, saying, “Look at how fucked up this life is.”
Both solid films worth a watch, no doubt. Just don’t want The Addiction to go unnoticed when it deserves to be viewed just as much and deserves just as much praise as A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night. So go watch ’em both!