Horrorfest 2018 Presents: The Addiction (1995, Abel Ferrara)

Getting bitten by a vampire can really turn your life upside down, as Lili Taylor finds out in The Addiction. While Abel Ferrara obviously focuses on drug addiction (two scenes involve needles) yet the film’s strongest aspect is it channeling of different philosphy views. Taylor’s Kathleen Conklin is a philosphy student, after all, and so The Addiction also focuses on her using her beliefs and thoughts while dealing with the effects of becoming a vampire. All shot in stark black and white, a throwback to the old days of horror, a choice that gives the film an eeire, almost dreamlike quality. I wondered how much the slightly better, also great Only Lovers Left Alive was inspired by The Addiction. They would make for a radical double bill.

Especially since both focus mostly on the problems of being a vampire, while not being all that creepy or scary. Life does not stop when you are undead, as Kathleen and the others she infects find out. Also being addicted to blood, like any other drug, causes major problems. The scenes with Christopher Walken are interesting, since Walken is a vampire able to control his habbit, a functioning addict. He urges her to read Naked Lunch, and then I recall that I have yet to read my copy, and I should. I have luckily avoided drugs, although I do enjoy beer more often than I should.

At times The Addiction felt smarter than it actually is, so maybe it reflects philosphy students in that regard. I related more to Kathleen’s friend and fellow student Jean, played by a pre-The Sopranos Edie Falco, who worries about Kathleen all too late and fails to run for the hills when its really apparent something is wrong with her. Still this is a unique and fascinating take on the vampire curse, and I prefer it to some of the other vampire movies I have seen over the years. Plus it spotlights 1990s New York City, a city I am not sure I will ever get to visit. For now cinema gets me close enough.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000, Patrick Lussier)

While the first film was really good and the second one a disappointment the third movie is somewhere in-between. Its an enjoyable film sure, and I liked it more than the second one, yet it has its limitations. Christopher Walken returned as Gabriel, who is now human and in search of redemption. In fact the film’s title is directed at him and not the main character, Danyael, who is the son of Valerie from the second movie, although its also concerning Danyael’s destiny. For Danyael must battle Zophael and Pyriel, who are bent on destroying humanity. One of the things I liked about this movie is how it brings the overlying arc full circle, only this time Gabriel is on the side of humanity since he was forced to live among them.

This aspect makes the film more interesting, and of course there are angel fights and the fate of mankind hangs in the balance as usual. Maggie is Danyael’s girlfriend and becomes forced by Zophael to go after Danyael. There is multiple jokes about driving once again, which is a staple of the series, and I liked that all three films have the same corner: poor Joseph at this point seems wary of angels, and is ready for his problems to end. I also liked that Gabriel ends up at the same dinner that he stopped at during the first film, and the final battle is outlandish, having been proceeded by freaky nightmares that Danyael has throughout the film.

Oh and this movie has some thoughts on God and religion, although they are very Hollywood in nature and therefore only scratch the surface of religious discussion. I liked how this one ended, and overall I have enjoyed the three films. There is a forth film yet due to Christopher Walken not being involved I don’t really consider it part of the series. I might still watch it but I’ll have low expectations. Sometimes trilogies work best.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Prophecy II (1998, Greg Spence)

There have been so many horror franchises over the years, with numerous sequels. The Prophecy II is one of them, as someone decided the first film demanded a sequel. Unfortunately this installment, like many other sequels, pales in comparison to the original. Which is too bad since the series has a great mythology and is entertaining despite its fair share of flaws. In this case the second installment feels too random and lacks the sense of purpose plus the atmosphere that made the first film so good.

Gabriel is back-Christopher Walken shows up much earlier this time around and in more dramatic fashion. Continuing to wage his war on humans he targets a young woman played by Jennifer Beals, who has been impregnated by an angel. Apparently the director felt that a sex scene is what the first movie lacked. The good angel (Russell Wong) by the way is bland and dull, lacking the quiet intensity and wariness of the heroic angel from the first movie.

Oh and this film manages to waste Eric Roberts in a pointless role. Thankfully Brittany Murphy keeps this film watchable as does Walken, and Beals isn’t half bad. I did like the bleak humor in this film and the ending was a surprise. I don’t think the movie was a complete waste yet it could have better channeled the B movie spirit of the first film. At least the angel fights were still pretty cool.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: The Prophecy (1995, Gregory Widen)

If you bothered to read the Horrorfest list heh then you know that this was not feature on there. I decided to quit viewing the lackluster Beneath The Darkness because its neither scary nor thrilling, and check out a 1995 horror/fantasy film on Netflix Instant Viewing titled The Prophecy. Despite being somewhat dated and having that standard 90s horror look, I was actually engaged throughout and found the movie rather interesting. After all the plot is about a war in heaven waged by angels, with the archangel Gabriel coming to earth to claim a dark soul and tip the war in his favor. Yet the humans and a lonely, wary angel named Simon have other plans. I was reminded of an equally solid and entertaining 90s horror flick, the Clive Baker directed Lord of Illusions, which came out the same year and operated in the same horror/fantasy vein as The Prophecy did.

Simon, played with a tragic wariness by Eric Stoltz (whatever happened to him? I liked him as an actor) appears on Earth, telling a failed priest turned cop named Thomas (Elias Koteas, in another likable and well acted performance of his among many others) about upcoming events. A vague warning, but one that Thomas heeds, as he is forced to investigate after the death of another angel. What this leads him to is Gabriel, played with a wondrous mix of hammy overacting and menace by the legendary Christopher Walken. Walken completely takes over this movie by not only being creepy, but also spewing hilarious one liners and clearly enjoying playing the main villain of the film. One of my favorite moments is when Gabriel is just sitting at a school, hanging out with children while looking for Mary, who has been forced by Simon to keep the soul within her. Its just a random funny moment, with Gabriel’s hidden sense of evil contrasted against the innocence of the young students.

What I also like about this movie is the mythology: the idea of angels waging war against each other sounds cool (although there was only one war in the Bible, and it was when Lucifer was driven out). Virgina Madsen by the way is rather gorgous as Katherine, the school teacher caught up in all of this, and the scene between her and a leering, sinister and really freaky sounding Lucifer, played by a young Viggo Mortensen, is a great moment in the film. For some reason I find it weird that three Pulp Fiction actors were together in this (Walken, Stoltz, and Amanda Plummer) although I don’t think it really means anything. The Prophecy has its share of flaws, sure, but overall I liked it a lot, and I thought it was a good, fast moving horror movie with some decent thoughts on religion and faith. However I still cannot believe they made four or five sequels, especially with how the movie ended. Some wonders never cease.

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