The Greatest Place to Be a Vampire Was New York in the ’90s

With apologies to Transylvania and Sunnydale, the ideal place to be a vampire was New York City in the mid-’90s. The only proof you need is a cluster of indie movies that came out so close together in 1994 and 1995 that they’re basically an example of multiple discovery. Michael Almereyda’s Nadja, Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction, and Larry Fessenden’s Habit operated under the common thesis that if bloodsuckers stalked the streets of the city, they’d blend seamlessly into the crowd, because resident scenesters like wearing dark clothes and being dramatic just as much as any supernatural figure. Vampires may be larger than life, but in these movies — two of them shot in black-and-white; all of them small, scrappy productions — they’re made to look small. They turn up in mundane places like a party, or at a bar, or on a walk — just a few more eccentrics looking to connect. It’s the city that ends up looking big, a bustling but precarious place where someone’s disappearance could go unremarked upon for days, ascribed to a bender, or a hot hooking, or a bout of depression.

Anna (Meredith Snaider), the waif with a pixie haircut that Sam (Larry Fessenden) begins a rebound relationship with in Habit, justifies her refusal to tell him about her job by saying, “It doesn’t really have anything to do with who I am.” It’d be a reasonable rejection of careerism if she were willing to share anything else about herself — like whether, as Sam starts to suspect, she’s draining the life out of him.

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