Abel Ferrara: 'The blood just looks better black. It's scarier'
- Henry Northmore
- 19 June 2018
Director of Driller Killer, Bad Lieutenant and King of New York discusses the re-release of The Addiction and working with Lili Taylor and Christopher Walken
Abel Ferrara's The Addiction is getting its first 4K Blu-ray release. A grimy vampire story set on the streets of New York, it stars Lili Taylor on a downward spiral of destruction after a late night encounter with the undead, and despite the director's assertions, it utilises vampire mythology to present a stark allegory for drug dependency.
Ferrara first made a name for himself with the notorious Driller Killer (banned in the UK in 1984 as a Video Nasty but now freely available) then hit a hot streak in the late 80s and 90s with a series of hard hitting, gritty thrillers including King of New York, Bad Lieutenant, Dangerous Game, The Addiction and The Funeral.
Speaking from his home in Rome he's a bullish interviewee. You get the impression he doesn't want to play the game. For example, when asked to sum up the plot of The Addiction in his own words he looks genuinely angry: 'no I can't, you saw the film, you tell me.' Not a great start. Ferrara doesn't suffer fools gladly but he's obviously incredibly passionate about his work.
What attracted you to making a vampire film?
I didn't approach it as a vampire story; it was about a character who went through all these changes. I liked the character and what happens to her, these events are predicated on the genre of a vampire film. The vampire story didn't begin with a movie, its thousands and thousands of years old. It's an iconic character that you see all over the world, from cave walls to folklore so this was just [writer] Nicholas St John's version of it.
You use vampirism as an allegory …
She's biting people, it's not an allegory. It's happening so what's allegorical about it? It's right there, it's happening.
Most people have interpreted it as being about drugs; do you think that's a fair reading?
I think it was about faith more than drugs, but using all that junkie paraphernalia and language. You can tell it definitely was a vampire movie shot in 90s New York, crack city.
Why did you choose to shoot in black and white?
I think we just wanted to make a black and white film, we thought if we don't do it now we'll never do it. It was low budget so we had the option; we were calling all the shots. The blood just looks better black. It's scarier.
It's a tough role. Did you enjoy working with Lili Taylor?
I remember she was great, she understood the material, she understood the character, it's beautiful when the actress and material come together like that.