Neil Bahadur’s review published on Letterboxd:
"...the whole country, they were all guilty! How can you single out one man?"
"Nicholas St. John and I wrote this movie soon after the death of his first son. At the saddest time in his life, he found a way to express that relentless search for truth and light in a world that often paralyzes us with its anger and darkness." - Abel Ferrara
A series of combinations of iconographies: vampirism, drug addiction, AIDS, academia, determinism, guilt and guilt in absentia. There are a number of oppositions: spirituality &/vs materialism, geometric force &/vs graceful movement, and predominately assertion &/vs inquiry. With the high-contrast black and white it achieves a unique sort of baroqueness in its minimalism - It is interesting that Kathleen is a pupil of Heidegger & Nietzsche, as those two have become the most popular standards of philosophy within academia in the present day. She quotes both as she falls deeper and deeper into vampirism, but she was already on that route even before she became a vampire! The film is constantly returning to images of 20th century horrors - My Lai, the concentration camps - this is fascinating because both Heidegger and Nietzsche essentially became co-opted by fascism - so in the middle of all this, this is about as hard core of a critique of academia as you can get! This finally manifests in Kathleen's PHD - she is rewarded for espouting the philosophy which she put into action when drinking the blood of innocent living people. This is equally one of the densest and most profound of Ferrara's works - confirmed with the Christopher Walken sequence - "You want to go somewhere dark?" Sharing these ideas Walken incessantly quotes Nietzsche - "Mankind has striven to exist beyond good and evil from the beginning. You know what they found? Me." Ferrara's vampires who are defined by their lack of moral agency are little more than Nietzsche-n supermen gone awry - a deliberate choice to call to mind the Hitler who once gifted a complete 24 volume set of Nietzsche's writings to Benito Mussolini on his 60th birthday. This is spectacular on the part of Ferrara & St. John, because here we see that historical works can be contextualized not by their past but their future, and can be invalidated on that basis whatever their merits.
"You're not a person, you're nothing," says Walken - this nothingness then promotes an abdication of responsibility as Walken again says "We're birds of prey." To will oneself to power is a transgression - it shall turn us into cannibals as is illustrated in Kathleen's PHD reception. She overdoses on her own fascism. But then all birds of prey are doomed to eat themselves alive.
Kathleen constantly fixates on holocaust imagery, first pained by them and then obsessed by them - then later she claims the victim responsible for their own demise. As she speaks to us to confirm her thoughts, she only describes herself. "It's your will against mine," she exclaims as she sadistically forces a young black male to the ground, before biting him in the neck. When she is later given help by another, she feeds on him as well, almost immediately. "The entire world's a graveyard," says Walken as he sits on what resembles a throne of centuries ago.
Her mistake is to reject continuum for eternity, and so she chooses force only, "It's your will against mine." By choosing eternity she spiritually 'gives up' and rejects moralism but in the name of nihilism - "The old adage 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." But even as she speaks of guilt she chooses not to feel it. "We should all hope to feel guilty to feel pain so that we can seek pardon and ultimately freedom," says one of Kathleen's professors early in the film. We have to return to Metanoia - in order to become human again, Kathleen must feel guilt. The key is in the films final words, as the camera pans up to Christ: "We stand before the light and our true nature is revealed: self-revelation is annihilation of self." Earlier Kathleen crumples flowers in incomprehension of their existence, now she places a rose on her own grave. A rosary is placed in her mouth. It is not the will, but the will which must be annulled. Those last remarks in quotation are the last words we hear in the film. But the last words we see are "I am the resurrection."