Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Secretly Awesome - Vampire's Kiss

Release Date: June 2, 1989
Director: Robert Bierman
Writer: Joseph Minion
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Jennifer Beals, Maria Conchita Alonso
Box Office: $725,131
Rotten Tomatoes: 62%

Whenever someone claims that Nicolas Cage is a terrible actor, I know I can name at least a half-dozen movies that person has never seen. Sure, some his recent stuff is pretty questionable, though not all of it (I'll get to some of those another time), but he has a solid bank of undeniably brilliant performances that will forever keep him far away from legitimately being labelled terrible.

Cage's performance in Vampire's Kiss kind of exists outside of the realm of criticism. I don't think I'd call it brilliant, but more an important step in his development toward being brilliant. He's loose, and unbridled... It's Cage honing his skills of over-the-top excess. The only thing to call it is outrageous... And entertaining. Extremely entertaining.

The film seems molded to fit Cage's craziness, pushing him further and further over the edge. In it he plays Peter Leow, a womanizing literary agent looking for love in New York City. He fights a bat that interrupts him having sex and somehow starts to think he's turning into a vampire. It's genuinely bizarre, and plays out more as a series of comedy sketches featuring a wacky, sadistic asshole. Before long he becomes delusional, terrorizing his secretary over a missing file in a series of ridiculous scenes that have him jumping on her desk and chasing her down hallways, while yelling at her for absolutely no reason. And when he's not doing that he's prowling through nightclubs, looking for a woman he believes is a vampire, donning some plastic Halloween costume vampire teeth, trying to bite people with them, only to go home to his apartment, where he sleeps in a makeshift coffin, which means on the floor under his overturned sofa.

Trying to describe Vampire's Kiss is almost pointless. It just has to be seen. Sure, I could tell you about the silly, snooty accent Cage uses throughout the film, and the ridiculous lines he delivers, but until you actually hear him say something like, "I was in mortal combat with a fucking bat" in an accent somewhere between British and moronic, you won't really have any idea what I'm talking about. It's ridiculous. It's absurd. It makes almost no sense, but it's quintessential Nicolas Cage. And trust me, that's enough.

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