Movie Inspiration of the Week – The Addiction (1995)

I would not want to know a person who isn’t offended by aspects of this film, but I would be equally bored by an individual who would casually dismiss the film itself.

Abel Ferrara

Costume Designer Melinda Eshelman

This is not an obvious choice as far as fashion / style inspiration goes, nor does it fall (apparently) in a film genre I particularly appreciate. Not a conventional (romantic) vampire movie, The Addiction seems to depict “vampires” in an over realistic manner as intellectual drug addicts in a grungy 90s New York City.


An explicit metaphor (if that’s a thing) for heroin addiction and its  moral and physical decaying results, this is also a film that uses “the vampire as a metaphor for intellectual hubris in the face of systemic sinfulness in the world”.[*] Having practically been born into academia and having spent all my life in it, this is what strikes me as both inspiring and scary in The Addiction.

Suitably blood-festooned vampire flick (although the word vampire is never mentioned). Secondly, it operates as a philosophical and religious reflection on human evil and redemption and finally as an amusing take on certain aspects of university life, probably best appreciated by those directly involved in that venerable institution.

Clare O’Farrell

Kathleen (Lili Taylor) is a Philosophy doctoral student who transforms into a vampire / undead/ immortal after being bitten by the stylish Casanova ( Annabella Sciorra) because she, the victim, could not stand up to her sleek aggressor who specifically tells her: “Tell me to leave you alone”and begins “a slow transition from theoretical dependency to literal acts of horror and extreme physical addiction.” [*] Succumbing to her addiction, Kathleen neglects her thesis as she falls deeper into ennui until meeting Peina (Christopher Walken), who with the superiority of the recovering addict turns into an impromptu supervisor, sucking all her blood before giving her a reading list. “Read the books, Sartre,Beckett, who do you think they are talking about?”

I have felt the wind on the wing of madness
Back to her thesis, Kathleen is now a junkie with a rationale.


By making the force of Kathleen’s appetite for blood, and an altering sense of moral perspective a parallel to a developing thesis, St John and Ferrara enable a wry, reflexive commentary on philosophy in action. As well as allowing a PhD student to take a rare leading role in a feature narrative (albeit made more exciting by vampirism), The Addiction is an ambitiously intellectual genre film, and a comic satire on intellectualism itself in its literalization of theory, as Kathleen both consumes her supervisor and eventually the academic community. 


The University, the institution “among the precious things that can be destroyed “, has changed a lot since 1995. I’m not quite sure if the institution transformed into an enabler of transversal skills through,  more or less fast tracks,  and in the process condemning learners to a life of follow up courses and debt (in some countries) is still the place of never ending theories trying to rationalize the unfathomable. Or maybe it’s just  “all theory and philosophy until someone gets bit”

To face what we are in the end, we stand before the light and our true nature is revealed. Self-revelation is annihilation of self.

P.S. In its neo noir aesthetic, this is, of course, a film that appeals to me with all the its different layers of black. The invisible, the evil, the academic, the existentialist, the transgressive, the bohemian, the absolute black.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: