Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Habit (1997, Larry Fessenden)

Habit and The Addiction would make for a good indie movie 1990s vampire in NYC double bill. Habit is more indie movie than The Addiction though, and despite some rough edges it is a really good movie. This works as both a drama and a horror film, depicting a young man’s slide into alcoholism and entering into a corrosive relationship with a mystery young woman. Who may or may not be a vampire, which the movie does hint at midway through.

Sam is dealing with his father’s death and his girlfriend breaking up with him at the same time. He ends up going out with a mysterious woman Anna (Meredith Snaider), who could be evil. Or at least destructive, since she doesn’t curtail his drinking and she keeps bitting him. That’s not normal, is it? Only if you’re in denial I guess.

Even though this isn’t a great movie, Habit still is really good and definitely has it’s share of eerie moments. My favorite part is when Sam and his friend run out into the ocean, cold weather be damned! This movie has a lot of little moments that work and add to the film’s overall aesthetic. Larry Fessenden is actually a really good, natural actor for a director and Snaider gives off some fantastic eerie vibes as well. Sometimes when you meet a strange woman at a party, the wise thing to do is run the other way.

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.

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