Lili Taylor (left) shows us
that grad school can really suck.
Way back in 1995, we went to the newly built 20 screen cineplex-a-rama to take in Nadja, a black and white avant-garde vampire movie that was doing the rounds at the time. Before going in, a nice usher asked to see our ticket stubs, so as to make sure that we actually had a ticket to see Nadja. We thought, "Hey, Nadja must be amazingly popular if they're checking tickets to the midnight show!"
It turns out this is not why they were checking stubs (we hear the roving gangs aren't much of a problem there anymore) and we were totally alone in the theater. We could have heckled the screen all we wanted, but instead we sat quietly and watched Nadja, the boring vampire movie. It was pretty darn bad, with a slow plot and weird camera effects that wore out their welcome about two seconds after they started, and lots of pretentious dialogue. The only thing that made Nadja even slightly watchable were some fairly funny lines, like when Van Helsing (Peter Fonda) explains that he did Dracula a favor by killing him. "He was all bloated and surrounded by zombies," he says, "kinda like Elvis at the end."
Two years older and wiser, we rented The Addiction, 1995's other black and white avant-garde vampire movie. We think Santiana said something we should have remembered, but we're pretty sure it will be repeated if we really need to know it.
Kathleen: The old adage from Santiana, that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it, is a lie. There is no history. Everything we are is eternally with us. Our question is therefore, what can save us from our crazy insistence of spreading the blight in ever widening circles?
Oh, right. Thanks. In The Addiction, the main character is a doctoral student in philosophy named Kathleen who is walking down the street one night when she is attacked by a vampire (Annabella Sciorra). Only in New York City. OK, vampires could attack people anywhere. But only in New York City would the cops react with the amazing indifference that we see in this film. In any case, the doctors think that the traumatic experience has aggravated a minor case of anemia that Kathleen didn't know she had, and she is released.
Of course it isn't really anemia. Kathleen is now a vampire, a creature of the night, nosferatu. Which means she wears sunglasses and becomes unbearably pretentious. She goes to her classes and rants against the concept of free will while her friends worry about her.
And then comes the blood lust. At first, Kathleen gets the blood she needs by using a hypodermic to take blood from street people and shooting up with it. Remember, the name of the movie is The Addiction. Get it?
Soon Kathleen moves on to living targets, sucking the blood out of her mentor, a jive talking youth, and some random anthropology student she meets in the school library.
Kathleen: Oh, the stench here is worse than a charnel house. This is a graveyard. Rows of crumbling tombstones, vicious libelous epitaphs. And we're all drawn here like flies.
Wow! So you don't like the library, already! For some reason, all the vampires in this movie have to demand that their victims tell them to go away. This way, when they get bitten, it's the victim's own fault, the victim's own free will, or so the argument is presented to us. We suppose that the heavy dose of Cypress Hill on the soundtrack, with their message that consenual crimes (i.e. using drugs) are OK, is probably supposed to underscore this theme. Profound, huh?
Kathleen: Sure it's easy to spot in people like me. The cancer's grown obvious. But you're as terminal as I am, you know that? You're as addicted as I am. It's the nature of the organism.
Zing! You showed us what for, Kathleen. On to the actors. The biggest name in the cast is Christopher Walken, no stranger to either horror movies or bad horror movies. He shows up for about ten minutes, suggests that Kathleen should read Naked Lunch, and calls her 'nothing' about twenty times, apparently because he can defecate and she can't.
Lili Taylor, as Kathleen, gives a pretty standard performance for this kind of role. Actually, it's a painfully self-aware performance, but she is playing a painfully pretentious character, so we guess it fits. She also amused us because of her resemblance to Gen-X spokesperson and comedienne Janeane Garofalo, so you could say we were happy with her in general.
What annoyed us so fully about this film is that it has no entertainment value. It is totally obsessed with its 'message.'
Kathleen: Somethings are more important that others. Besides, aren't you the one who eschews speculative philosophy?
Large portions of the movie seemed like a lesson in philosophy, with people quoting Sartre and reaffirming that Kirkagaard was right. This goes on forever. Didn't director Abel Ferra (Bad Lieutenant) realize that this was a vampire film? And that vampire films should be either scary or fun? Instead we get Lost Boys 3: The Dissertation. It's Exotica with fangs. Or considering that the Janeane Garofalo look-a-like's best friend is tall and blonde, maybe it's The Truth About Bats and Fogs. It would be the second vampire movie Janeane Garofalo has been in, the other being Reality Bites.
The only entertaining moment in the film is when, after obtaining her doctorate, Kathleen sucks the blood out of one of the professors on her dissertation committee. We're pretty sure she meant this act as social commentary on her student loans, but the rest of the movie showed us nothing interesting.
Jean: So you what, ur, you want an apology for ethical relativism or something?