Horror Movie Review: Vampire’s Kiss (1988)


I’m a huge Nic Cage fan; in fact I’ve seen more movies starring him than any other actor I can think of. I love how much energy he brings to any role he’s given; his acting is usually so over the top that it makes it very difficult to take anything he does very seriously. I’m always entertained and surprised at how he manages to outdo himself with the level of craziness he brings to each new movie I see starring him. It makes me question how the directors of certain movies completed scenes where Cage was particularly eccentric and came away saying “that’s perfect” but somehow they do. Nicholas Cage continues to get leading roles in a large amount of movies each year; the majority of which are usually average action flicks. In my opinion he has the ability to take a poor film and make it entertaining by his performance alone and in some cases he makes awful movies worth viewing just because of how incredibly over the top he is e.g. The Wicker Man.

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After recently viewing the remake of ‘Bad Lieutenant’ which is probably the funniest, craziest movie I’ve ever seen. I decided to seek out more of his movies in an attempt to find something similar to Bad Lieutenant and somehow managed to do so. It would seem that his unique acting talents really began to be noticed in the 1988 movie ‘Vampires Kiss’.

Vampires Kiss is billed as a comedy/horror/fantasy movie and it’s certainly all of the above and more. Starring a young Nic Cage the plot goes like this: Peter Loew, a literary agent in a stressed-out New York, visits a bar one evening after work and brings a lady friend back to his apartment. Things start to get heated until a bat swoops in and ruins the special moment scaring off the girl but not Peter who attempts to remove the bat only to flee as well.

During a session with this psychiatrist Peter explains that his interaction with the bat deeply confused him because of how aroused it made him feel, you read that right. Peter then goes off to work; this is where we get introduced to the sub plot of the movie in which Peter bullies his assistant Alva. Alva who’s harassed by Peter at every turn, scared into an unmanageable workload, and ultimately physically abused. It’s in these scenes of violence that Cage really excels and it leads to some seriously hilarious moments.

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The next night Peter encounters a new lady that takes his fancy and he invites her back to his apartment only for her to rip into his neck and begin drinking his blood or does she? From this point Peter slips deeper and deeper into madness completely convinced that he is turning into a vampire and hilarity ensues.

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Things begin to get rather weird…as if they weren’t weird enough already. Loew begins having conversations with himself in his apartment. Did he imagine the vampire lady? Or is he slowly transforming into a creature of the night? We see Peter at work, barking obscene orders at poor Alva, who has been tasked with the ridiculous task of finding a single, ancient literary contract amid a file choked with thousands upon thousands of them. Her reluctance to take on this task only serves to further enrage her boss and there are many seriously funny moments between them as he continuously asks Alva to find said file.

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One afternoon Peter calls Alva into his office to once again question her on the whereabouts of the file, Alva explains that she has had great difficulty in finding it and asks if maybe someone else could be given the task but Peter doesn’t take to this very well. We get a seriously wacky scene in which Peter goes really wide eyed and just basically insults Alva and forces her to continue looking. Even though I felt sorry for Alva I couldn’t help but find the way Peter torments her really hilarious and I really couldn’t wait to see how he would react the next time she failed to find the contract.

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As the days go by Peter becomes more and more convinced that he’s turning into a vampire, so much so that becomes afraid of sunlight, eats a cockroach (which Cage actually did for real) & buys a comical set of Halloween fangs to wear because he couldn’t afford the more expensive, realistic versions. Just seeing Cage walk around the streets with these fangs in is just so damn funny, the way he moves around and his wide eyed stare just absolutely slayed me. Seeing him run around the streets of New York screaming “Im a vampire” is just great.

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As the viewer we’re tasked with deciding whether or not Peter is actually turning into a vampire or if he’s just insane. We see that Peter is regularly visited by the vampire who bit him and he seems to switch from one mental state to another without any real understanding of why it’s all happening; it’s completely down to the viewer to decide and I like that. Eventually Peter goes as far as attacking someone, ripping into their neck with his human teeth only to have the lady vampire who turned him appear once again but this time she snubs him for someone else, Peter finds this very upsetting.

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The final scenes are truly wonderful as a manic Peter takes to the streets with false vampire-teeth and a stake, holds a hallucinatory conversation with his psychiatrist and then returns to his trashed apartment to sleep under his make-shift coffin-sofa. Cage imitates the silent horror classic Nosferatu (1922), whilst the film itself questions the attitudes of New York as a city as Peter is left to get away with his ever-mounting list of crimes. It reminded me a lot of American Psycho (2000) in that respect actually.

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Cheesy 80s music and hairstyles, some average supporting performances, but Nic Cage is at his attention-demanding best. It’s hard to really fault Vampires Kiss because as a comedy it’s absolutely fantastic and it does have some horror elements as well. Cage is as over the top as you’ll ever see him and manages to make scenes that would normally seem boring and uneventful highly entertaining with his best over acting skills. I really enjoyed the movie because honestly it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen; the premise is original and actually a really good idea. The movie never takes itself too seriously and I like how it lets the audience decide whether or not Peter is just delusional or not, even though it’s quite obvious at the end.

At the same time I can fully understand why someone wouldn’t enjoy Cage’s performance, his over the top acting isn’t for everyone and the strange accent he puts on in the movie which changes throughout could be off putting for some. For me though Vampires Kiss just cements Cage as the eccentric genius that I already knew he was and I highly recommend it because once again its worth seeing for his performance alone. This movie is hilarious and has more memorable moments than most, are they memorable because of how brilliant they are or because of how hilariously bad they are? That’s up to you to decide, it did give the internet a popular meme though.

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Vampires Kiss just has to be seen to be believed, its unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s not for everyone that’s for sure but If you’re as big of a fan of Nicholas Cage as I am and you enjoy seeing him being bat shit crazy then this is the movie for you, a cult classic if there ever was one.

Vampire's Kiss
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