Director: Michael Almereyda
Screenwriters: Michael Almereyda

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


In the darkness, a low voice speaks softly: “Nights. Nights without sleep. Long nights in which the brain lights up like a big city.” New York City: Estranged vampire twins Nadja (Elina Lowensohn, in her most brilliant role to date) and Edgar (Jared Harris) attempt to escape their monstrous inheritance after Dr. Van Heising (Peter Fonda, in a gleefully bravura performance) drives a stake through their father’s heart. But blood ties are hard to break. Van Heising entangles his own nephew Jim (Martin Donovan) in his efforts to find and kill the accursed twins. But Jim’s wife (Galaxy Craze) has already been seduced by Nadja into the netherworld, and Edgar’s private nurse (Suzy Amis) is drawn into the fray as the story shuttles to the darker regions of Brooklyn and on to Romania, a Transylvania of the soul.

This postmodern version of the conventional vampire film extracts new blood from the old genre. Dracula, the father of the evil twins, is compared to Elvis at the end (he’d lost it; the magic was gone). The chain-smoking vampires drink their meals from coffee mugs. Blood transfusion equipment is wielded as casually as a household appliance.

The imagery alternates between luminous 35mm and Pixelvision—the Fisher Price toy video camera so beloved by experimental filmmakers. The Pixelvision sequences are coded as an entry into the vampire unconscious, a misty, romantic domain of inhuman need, lust, and cruelty. The alterations between the two visual media echo the polarities of the narrative’s principal subjects: love and death, shape shifters and zombies, the monstrosity of dysfunctional families, the delirium of New York nights, the improbability of domestic bliss, the pain of fleeting joy.

— Kay Armatage, Toronto Film Festival

Screening Details

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