The glut of vapid vampire movies makes you want to bite back, but director Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant), working from a rabidly ambitious script by Nicholas St. John, gives the genre a provocative and perversely funny snap that Anne Rice might envy. Lili Taylor casts a haunting spell as Kathleen Conklin, a New York University doctoral student of philosophy who is obsessed with images of evil. When a stranger (Annabella Sciorra) nibbles her neck, Kathleen goes from fragile to ferocious in feeding an addiction that Ferrara likens to drugs.
Mixing lofty pretensions with low comedy often knocks the plot off the rails. But there is twisted inspiration in casting a never-weirder Christopher Walken as a vampire trying to cut down and in staging an academic reception that turns into a bloodsucking orgy. As always, it's mesmerizing to watch Ferrara go for broke.