On DVD/Blu-ray – Review: Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
by NIR SHALEV
Nicolas Cage was slowly climbing up the Hollywood popularity ladder after delivering one likable performances after another in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), Raising Arizona (1987), and the terrific Moonstruck (1987). But his craziest, loopiest performance is in Vampire’s Kiss. Here he plays (with a mysterious but bad British accent) Peter Loew, a New York yuppie who ventures one night into a club, brings home his new date (Jennifer Beals) and then is bitten on the neck by her.
As the week progresses, Peter grows physically weaker and is also adverse to sunlight, or so he believes. He also believes that he’s turning into a vampire and becomes infatuated with the vampire mythos. He no longer sees his own reflection in the mirror, although the audience does; his anger at work grows exponentially, and mysteriously only towards his secretary Alva (Maria Conchita Alonzo); and his meetings with a psychiatrist become more like deranged interviews.
So what’s the appeal of watching Nicolas Cage go crazy, believing that he’s a vampire in a materialistic version of New York City? Exactly that. He delivers a deranged, manic but likable and hilarious version of a yuppie that does some weird things and sometimes without any provocation. His eyes spontaneously enlarge and contract. He goes into fits at home, at work and on the streets. He even buys plastic vampire teeth and bites a random woman in a night club until she bleeds.
The film, while existing in a lucid state of delirium (yes, it’s paradoxical) becomes more grounded in reality as Peter’s character grows more insane. We begin to feel uncomfortable and at the same time we ask ourselves how he feels right now.
Vampire’s Kiss could be seen as a social commentary on the material world, a commentary on the everyman who’s liable to go nuts at any moment, and also a commentary on how we tend to treat potential crazies too harshly (note the film’s third act). It’s a horror film, it’s a comedy, it’s a deranged New York film, and above all it showcases a terrific yet zany performance by the inimitable Nicolas Cage. The happenings in the film seem crazier with each viewing.
The DVD contains a commentary track that features director Robert Bierman and actor Nicolas Cage. I’ve listened to it before and they comment more on Peter’s growing insanity and deranged antics rather than delivering any real messages. It’s almost like a sing-along: it’s fun and you’re doing it with a group of people who like the same product that you do.
New releases this week: Abduction, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, Courageous, The Ides of March, Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain, Mysteries of Lisbon