In the throes of passion a woman (Jennifer Beals) bites Peter Loew (Nicholas Cage) on the neck. Over the following days, Peter believes he is transforming into a vampire. His behavior goes from eccentric to erratic, as he spirals downward into a chaotic state of mind.
Vampire’s Kiss is a film that can all too easily be written off as bad. After all, even the plot summary is ridiculous, let alone the movie itself. While its story may be incredibly strange and often, nonsensical, the film works as a bizarre comedy, and contains one of Nicholas Cage’s best performances.
For anyone who, based upon the title, thinks this is a bad horror movie, I ask you to turn to Joseph Minion, the screenwriter. With help from Martin Scorsese’s brilliant direction, Minion was the mastermind behind 1985′s After Hours. Much of the humor here is akin to the humor in After Hours, as it is extremely weird. The only difference with this film, is that its comedy is far more over the top. Cage’s character does some truly wacky things, such as, constantly abuse his secretary (Maria Conchita Alonso), eat a live cockroach, and run around saying “I’m a vampire!”
It is not just the fact that the comedy is strange, that makes it so good; it is how it’s handled. Robert Bierman does a very competent directing job, more so than would be expected for such a movie. He and his crew make the best out of a screenplay that could easily have been botched up. Bierman doesn’t hold back any of the funny moments in order to make them more disturbing or serious. He stretches a rubber band to its maximum length, snaps it forward, and just lets it go wherever momentum takes it.
Easily the most unforgettable part of this movie is Nicholas Cage’s performance. Anybody who found Cage’s acting in The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call- New Orleans to be crazy, must check out this film. His one man-man show in Vampire’s Kiss makes his Bad Lieutenant role seem as understated as Harry Dean Stanton’s in Paris, Texas. This is overacting to the ultimate degree, but it is a good type of overacting. From his accent alone, one realizes that Cage is giving a (somewhat) calculated performance, rather than a bad one. It just works here, and would not have, had a different actor taken his place.
Because of the weight of Cage’s dominant presence, the other actors’ performances are utterly forgettable. Thankfully, this is a very minor issue, as the film works best when its main character is on screen.
I am not entirely sure who to recommend Vampire’s Kiss to. I guess if you are a Joseph Minion or Nicholas Cage fan, you have a good shot at loving the film. If bizarre humor is your thing, give this movie a chance, and it will make you laugh (out loud) constantly. This is probably Cage’s most unleashed performance (maybe one of the most unleashed performances of all time), and a total embrace of Minion’s script. Parts of this film are comic brilliance, while the rest are wholly creative and unique. As an experience, there is nothing like it.