Cult film of the week: Vampire’s Kiss

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Vampire's Kiss
Vampire’s Kiss. Image: Magellan Pictures

It is hard to describe the cinematic masterpiece that is Vampire’s Kiss. Initially a flop, the film has since developed a cult following for all of the right reasons, but it remains misunderstood by many. It’s certainly a difficult film to explain – even director Robert Bierman admitted to not fully understanding it – and at the time, actor Nicolas Cage was apparently the only person in the entire cast or crew that had made a full movie before. Vampire’s Kiss however, remains one of the most fascinating films of Cage’s long career.

I highly recommend the film to all Nic Cage fans, especially those who liked the YouTube compilation of him ‘losing his shit’, as Vampire’s Kiss features heavily in it. The film is about Peter Loew, a publishing executive, and begins with him bringing a woman back to his house. As the two begin to get it on, a bat flies into the room forcing them to stop and relocate before continuing. This sets the tone for the absurd story that follows, where, after a night of passion involving biting, Peter believes that he is becoming a vampire. A subplot features his assistant Alva (Maria Conchita Alonso) who unfortunately fails at her only job to track down the Heatherton contract and is heavily punished and humiliated by Peter for her failure.

Nic Cage really exhibits his wide range of acting here, and in scene after scene of inexplicable events he superbly interprets the heavy emotions of his character. The dialogue is similarly fascinating, whether it is composed of amazing fake laughter or minimalist lines stating facts, such as Cage running down the street screaming: “I’m a vampire! I’m a vampire! I’m a vampire!”. Indeed, it is hard to say what part of the film is the best, whether it is Cage’s sophisticated accent, or the scenes throughout the movie in which a pair of mimes fight.

Known for his method acting, Cage wanted to make the film as realistic as possible. When Peter is bitten by what seems to be a vampire, the actor insisted that he be bitten by an actual bat, until Bierman eventually persuaded him otherwise. Cage did however eat a cockroach in real life for the film.

At the end of Vampire’s Kiss, the audience will agree that Nicolas Cage should have earned an Oscar for his portrayal of a man on the verge of a mental breakdown. An underrated classic, this film comes highly recommended for an entertaining night in and can easily translate into a drinking game before going out.

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