31 Days Of Hell: Vampire's Kiss

Next up on the 31 Days Of Hell roster, the Nicolas Cage movie Vampire's Kiss.

"Are you laughing at my straight to
video career of the last few years?
Tell me. Are you?
Few credible actors know how to chew up the scenery when it’s needed quite like Nicolas Cage.  Though Cage won an Academy Award for Leaving Las Vegas in 1995, the actor has garnered the reputation for being an actor who, like Klaus Kinski, is either a genius or a madman.  The subject of an ongoing internet meme, Nicolas Cage films are either generally complex character studies but more often than not they’re an arena for the actor to go ballistic and ridiculously over the top.  Nowhere is that tendency towards leaping off the rails more present than in his low-budget 1989 black comedy/horror hybrid, Vampire’s Kiss.  Written by Joseph Minion of Martin Scorsese’s equally surreal New York night life black comedy After Hours, Vampire’s Kiss is a weird kind of satirical precursor to excoriations of New York yuppiedom such as Wall Street and especially American Psycho.  While the aforementioned films have attained far more critical acclaim and commercial success in the years since their release, Vampire’s Kiss somehow slipped under the radar and is ripe for rediscovery.  Wall Street movies rarely get this excessively bizarre or scathing.

Peter Loew (Nicolas Cage) is a mentally ill literary agent whose existence consists of work, the night club life of hookups and daily sessions with his therapist.  During a one night stand, Peter is bitten in the neck by a woman who appears to be a vampire (Jennifer Beals from Flashdance).  Believing he’s transforming into a bloodsucker himself as a result, the already somewhat unhinged Loew’s behavior grows increasingly erratic and madcap, setting the stage for Cage to swallow his scenes whole with overacting that has to be seen to be believed.  By now, clips of the film out of context have become popular on the internet, notably a scene where he rants about alphabetical filing of documents in his office.  Cage starts reciting the alphabet before he’s foaming at the mouth, making bizarre facial gestures and punching into the air with clenched fists.  In another scene, Cage runs frantically through the slums of New York at night, screaming repeatedly that he’s a vampire with passerby barely noticing given how much madness is commonplace to them. 

In context, the Cage-tastic scenery chomping actually works, functioning as a counterpoint to the stability of the other characters who grow to fear the psychopath including a subplot where his harassment of his secretary Alva (Maria Conchita Alonso from The Running Man) becomes more sinister as time goes by.  Vampire’s Kiss in microcosm also serves as a loose metaphor for all-consuming night life indulgence.  Much like Patrick Bateman of American Psycho, Peter Loew’s materialistic and possessive desires cannot be fulfilled before self-loathing and violence ensues.  Understandably, the low budget hunk of snark performed poorly at the box office and didn’t fare well with critics either who took umbrage with Cage’s ludicrously over the top performance.  In the years since, the film has gained a cult following and was released on Blu-Ray recently by Scream Factory.  While neither really a horror film nor a straightforward comedy, Vampire’s Kiss will provide plenty of laughs for just how insane Nicolas Cage gets in this.  In the pantheon of yuppie excess movies, Vampire’s Kiss more than fulfills its obligations as a comic opera of self-destructive indulgence.  Fans of the unabashed Cage-tastic will get more than their money’s worth!


-Andrew Kotwicki

Share this review, blood sucker!
StumbleUpon Reddit Pinterest Facebook Twitter Addthis