Vampire’s Kiss

A! B! C! D! E! F! G! H! I! J! K! L! M! N! O! P! Q! R! S! T! U! V! W! X! Y! Z! See! I know my alphabet. So does Nicolas Cage, as we find out in one of his many outbursts in Vampire’s Kiss. If there’s one thing that one can remember from this movie, it’s the overacting done by Cage throughout. If for no other reason, Cage keeps the movie completely watchable if only because his overacting — described by one character in the film as “eccentric” — is so laughable that you’ve always got something to watch.

Cage plays Peter Loew, a literary agent. He’s in therapy, in large part because he’s basically insane. He also talks funny. If nothing else, Cage put a lot of work into bringing this character to life. One night, he takes a woman, Jackie (Kasi Lemmons), back to his apartment, but before they can have sex, a bat flies in and scares them both. Peter tells his therapist that this aroused him. A little while later, you might or might not be surprised to hear that Peter takes home a woman (Jennifer Beals) who also happens to be a vampire. They make love and he has never been happier.

Meanwhile, at work, he slowly begins to scare his secretary, Alva (María Conchita Alonso), as he has her looking for a long-lost contract and becoming increasingly frustrated when she doesn’t find it. In fact, his rants get more and more … odd, I guess, as the film progresses that you have to wonder how nobody called the cops on him. Oh, and this is kind of important: he thinks that the vampire woman bit him so now he is slowly turning into a vampire, too.

I can’t decide if Vampire’s Kiss is supposed to be taken seriously. The first 30 minutes are more or less told straight, and even the story past then is more or less told seriously. But Cage’s performance heads in a completely different direction. I suppose that makes sense given that he’s playing an insane man, but the tone of the film really doesn’t play nicely with that. He’s like a distinct entity who is in a movie inside of which he doesn’t belong. But here he is, unable to be taken even remotely seriously.

As a result, the film is funnier than it probably should be. It’s funny in the way that absolutely terrible movies are. You have to laugh at what it presents simply because of how weird and insane much of it is. Its lead actor conflicts with its tone — and he’s funny in his own right — which creates a feeling of disconnect and uncomfortableness in the audience, causing our laughter. By the time Cage has put in false vampire teeth because his fangs inexplicably aren’t growing — some vampire he is — I’d lost it.

I get the feeling that even if someone hates Vampire’s Kiss — and I might consider myself one of these people — that they’ll feel the need to see every frame of it simply because of the off-the-wall performance from Nicolas Cage. He’s either stunningly terrible of wonderfully brilliant, but he keeps the film watchable regardless. If it was a subdued performance, we might get bored midway through. But because you’re never sure what Cage will do, there’s always something to see.

Most of the other actors can’t even provide half the energy or insanity that Cage delivers. Jennifer Beals is here to look sexy. María Conchita Alonso is here to look scared and show us how insane Cage is acting — as if we couldn’t tell without a “normal” person to react to him. Nobody else really matters. Not even his therapist, played by Elizabeth Ashley. Cage takes over the movie and runs with it. Good luck to any of the other actors, since they’re not going to be remembered for what they did in Vampire’s Kiss. Cage will, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

Vampire’s Kiss is an insane movie for one reason only: Nicolas Cage. He’s of-the-wall crazy in this movie, and even if that completely goes against what everyone else was attempting to do, it at least makes what otherwise might have been a dull film watchable. You don’t get performances like this very often, especially not in professional productions, so even if you hate Vampire’s Kiss — and it’s a bad enough movie that this reaction would be fine — you’re going to stick around and see what Cage does next. This is a bad movie, but it’s hilarious at the same time.

This review sponsored by lacktheknack.

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