The Addiction

Abel Ferrara‘s very unconventional vampire drama The Addiction is now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video. The film equates vampirism to drug addiction, but there’s a lot more going on here. There’s a philosophical bent that’s both fascinating and just a tad bit pretentious. The end result is a slow-moving but fascinating slice of mid-90s independent cinema, rendered in stark black and white.

Lili Taylor is a philosophy student who gets attacked by a woman (Annabella Sciorra) who may or may not be a vampire. Taylor’s attacker seems to give her a choice – she tells Taylor to order her to go away. Taylor is seemingly unable to do so, and as a result, is attacked. The attack sends Taylor into a downward spiral, and she begins exhibiting traditional vampiric behavior. All of this eventually culminates in a big bloody orgy, because of course it does.

The Addiction is definitely not for everyone, and anyone seeking a traditional vampire movie is likely to be furious at what they’re watching. But Ferrarar is a filmmaker in a class all his own, and The Addiction is one of his most engrossing films. Plus, Christopher Walken shows up as a vampire who loves William S. Burroughs. You can’t go wrong with that.

Special Features to Note:

The Arrow release includes a new documentary about the making of the film made by Abel Ferrara himself. Ferrara talks with the cast of the film, and the interviews are very laid-back – almost frustratingly so. This isn’t a standard documentary so much as it is Ferrara filming some casual conversations with his friends. Lili Taylor talks about her prep for the film, which included lots of walking around New York late at night listening to Pixies songs, and that sounds pretty damn romantic. Christopher Walken, meanwhile, says he thought the script was really interesting, and then proceeds to start talking in a detached manner about how most of the shooting locations the film was shot on were torn down. I’m not going to lie: it’s not the most exciting feature. 

In a separate interview, Ferrara says that what made the movie special, at least in his eyes, was that he had a female lead. He thought that was a unique spin on the formula, although in another interview, critic Brad Stevens points out that in many ways, The Addiction is almost a remake of Ferrara’s earlier film Ms. 45

Beyond the interviews, we’re treated to vintage footage of Ferrara editing the film in a crowded, run-down apartment room somewhere in New York. It’s like a time capsule to a whole other era as we watch Ferrara working with two clunky video monitors, cutting the film together. 

Special Features Include:

  • New restoration from a 4K scan of the original camera negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Abel Ferrara and director of photography Ken Kelsch
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Restored 5.1 audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by Abel Ferrara, moderated by critic and biographer Brad Stevens
  • Talking with the Vampires (2018) A new documentary about the film made by Ferrara especially for this release, featuring actors Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor, composer Joe Delia, Ken Kelsch, and Ferrara himself
  • New interview with Abel Ferrara
  • New interview with Brad Stevens
  • Abel Ferrara Edits The Addiction, an archival piece from the time of production
  • Original trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain

 

Memoirs of an Invisible Man
(Available July 24)

John Carpenter‘s movies are rightly regarded as genre classics, but there’s one Carpenter film that virtually no one talks about: Memoirs of an Invisible Man. In fact, I’d reckon many people don’t even know Carpenter helmed the film. It doesn’t exactly have his unique style. The filmmaker also deliberately left off his traditional “John Carpenter’s” classification above the title because the studio – Warner Bros. – interfered too much for him to maintain ownership of the picture.

So is Memoirs of an Invisible Man a bust? It’s certainly not the best Carpenter film, but it’s not a total wash either. Chevy Chase stars as a lazy, womanizing cad who just happens to be rendered invisible by a science experiment. The CIA, represented by a scene-stealing Sam Neill, wants to turn Chase into a weapon. But all Chase wants to do is score with Daryl Hannah.

Chase is fine here, using his trademark smarm and charm that made him such a big comedy star. The same can’t be said for Hannah, who seems utterly lost during the bulk of the film. The real standout here, though, are the special effects. The invisibility effects were cutting-edge at the time, and while some of them don’t really hold up that well today, they’re still fun to watch.

If you’re a John Carpenter completist, and have been waiting for this film to make it’s Blu-ray appearance, here’s your chance.

Special Features to Note:

Unlike most Shout! Factory releases, there are no new features here. There’s a new 2K scan of the film, but beyond that, all the features on this disc are ported over from previous DVD releases. There are vintage interviews with Chase, Hannah and Carpenter. Chase is very complimentary to Carpenter, saying he’s one of the best directors he ever worked with (rumor has it, though, that the two did not get along). Carpenter seems mostly bored in his interviews, basically just describing what the movie is about. I hope he got a big paycheck.

The big feature is a vintage doc about the creation of the special effects. We get to see all the work that went into turning Chevy Chase invisible, and fans of behind-the-scenes VFX work will no doubt get a kick out of this. It also highlights how far the medium has come – effects that took hours and hours to create here could likely be created today in ten minutes.

Special Features Include: 

  • NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements
  • How To Become Invisible: The Dawn Of Digital F/X
  • Vintage Interviews With Director John Carpenter And Actors Chevy Chase And Daryl Hannah
  • Behind The Scenes Footage
  • Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots

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