Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
Sure, we all hate Nicolas Cage. He’s a whore, a has-been, and his wigs embarrass us. But back before Con Air (the film that turned him), Cage was always willing to behave in a weirdly effeminate manner, and perhaps even eat a bug. He made some great movies.
Among those works ranks this bizarre horror comedy, which would make an excellent back to back viewing with Christian Bale’s American Psycho. Both films loathe the soulless, white collar white man in a suit. One portrays him as a serial killer, while this one sees him as a blood sucker. Either way, he’s a sociopath who preys on the rest of us.
Both films boast fascinating, savage turns from male leads who would go on to dominate acting for years after these unhinged performances. We have yet to see whether Christian Bale will eventually whore himself out to the highest bidder, wearing ridiculous hair pieces while driving his motorcycle from the depths of hell to find the missing Constitution. Let us hope not.
In keeping with a theme I appear to be building, Christian Bale ate worms in the film Rescue Dawn. Vampire’s Kiss is best known for the scene in which Cage eats a cockroach. (Putting both actors to shame is Divine, who ate actual dog shit for John Waters’s Pink Flamingos.)
Dietary hijinks aside, Cage gives a masterful comic performance as a narcissistic literary editor who descends into madness. The actor is hilarious, demented, his physical performance outstanding. The way he uses his gangly mess of limbs and hulking shoulders inspires darkly, campy comic awe. And the plastic teeth are awesome.
Peter Lowe (pronounced with such relish by Cage) believes he’s been bitten by a vampire (Jennifer Beals) during a one night stand. It turns out, he’s actually just insane. The bite becomes his excuse to indulge his self-obsessed, soulless, predatory nature for the balance of the running time.
The object of most of Lowe’s deviance is his secretary, poor, hard working Alva (Maria Conchita Alonso). Her wholesome life, though humble, carries with it a happiness and fulfillment that Lowe’s seemingly enviable high rolling lifestyle lacks. When the natural order of superiority is disrupted – when Alva snickers at Peter’s sockless ankle – his world and mind finally crumble. He may think he abuses her with sinister panache because he’s slowly turning into a demon, but we know better.
If the news of National Treasure 3 is too much to bear, maybe give this one a shot.