Vampires_kiss

Review: Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

by James Rossjamesisanerd.tumblr.com/

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Best Bad Quote:

“Am I getting through to you, Alva?!!”

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Nicolas Cage is a crazy person. That’s probably what made this seemingly insane performance appear normal to him at the time.  Acting is all about making choices. And the choices he makes in the film are staggeringly weird, absurd, and quirky to say the least.

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New York City in the 1980s is the site of this bizarre film that staggers the line between psychological deconstruction and campy black comedy. Nicolas Cage portrays Peter Loew, a stuffy yuppie literary agent. Now the plot isn’t all that hard to understand at first. Cage’s character enjoys the Manhattan nightlife, hitting the bars and clubs. One evening he meets a mysterious young woman named Rachel (Jennifer Beals) and takes her home where she bites him on the neck (or does she?). Now we start to see Peter’s very “together” life start to fall apart. As Cage’s performance gets more out of this world so does the movie. It starts with him in a therapy session talking about his romantic flings. He continues to see the therapist (Elizabeth Ashley) throughout, but his sessions get progressively stranger. And the person who bares the brunt of his strange behavior is a poor secretary in Loew’s office, Alva (Maria Conchita Alonso). He asks her to track down a contract from 1963 in a giant file. And after it isn’t immediately produced she is harassed and belittled. He yells at her and even chases her through the office into the ladies room. Later he shares a laugh about it with his colleagues.

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Cage’s performance is truly something to behold. Not in a “he should win an Academy Award for this” way but more of a “this guy is really bat-shit crazy” way. He bounces all over the place from brooding realism to whacked out slapstick. His vocal choice is something between Thurston Howell and an ivy leaguer with a severe head cold. He makes bizarre gestures with his hands that seem to have no connection to what he is talking about or what is going on. In one of the therapy session scenes he goes on a rant about how easy it should be to alphabetize files, in which he recites the entire alphabet as example and pouts like an upset child while posing like Mick Jagger at the end. He screams one minute and whispers the next. At one point towards the end of the film, his character is so distraught as to what is going on with himself he starts to cry and actually sobs “boo hoo”, I shit you not. Peter continues to spiral out of control as he believes he is turning into a vampire. He turns his perfect apartment upside down and starts sleeping under an overturned sofa like a makeshift coffin. He buys a pair of plastic fangs and runs the streets shouting, “I’m a vampire, I’m a vampire!” As the film unravels, so does Nic Cage. And it’s a thing of beauty to see.

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In a career of over the top, crazy balls, nutso performances; (see: Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans, Wild At Heart, Ghost Rider) this has to be the top of the list. In fact I saw an article online recently that had Nic Cage’s Top 9 craziest performances and Vampire’s Kiss was number 1, where it belongs. It must be seen to be appreciated.

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You have to wonder at times if he is at all self aware of how weird he is in the movie and how weird the movie is itself. But in the audio commentary on the DVD he does say that this is “one of his favorite performances”, and he muses to director Robert Bierman that “we made a weird little film didn’t we?” Another tidbit from the commentary is that at one point Judd Nelson almost filled the fangs in this movie. Thank god he didn’t.

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Rating:

5 out of 5 Crazy Eyed Cage’s

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One Response to “Review: Vampire’s Kiss (1988)”

  1. Judd Nelson can do a good subtle sort of crazy (I love him in the “The Dark Backward”), but Nic Cage’s insanity is truly the best for this type of role. I loved him in “Bad Lieutenant.” I’ve heard of this movie (via Topless Robot too), but now I really want to see it.

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