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VAMPIREíS KISS

Here it is, the most out of control Nicolas Cage performance ever! As for the movie, itís a seriously odd satire with Cage as an asshole businessman who may or may not be a vampire.

The Package
     Screenwriter Joseph Minion scored a success in 1986 when his script for AFTER HOURS, written while a student at NYU, was filmed by Martin Scorsese. This led to a brief run of highly eccentric independent films scripted or directed by Minion--including DADDYíS BOYS and MOTORAMA--with VAMPIREíS KISS being the first of those films to arrive in 1989, distributed (barely) by the late Hemdale Film Corporation and produced by Barry Shils (who also co-produced and directed the Minion scripted MOTORAMA).
     Nicolas Cage signed onto this freaky project after hitting it big with MOONSTRUCK, a daring and unexpected choice. VAMPIREíS KISS didnít make any money, but it has attained a minor cult following.

The Story
     Peter is a slimy NYC literary agent who cheats on his girlfriend and harasses his immigrant secretary. One night Peter finds a vampire bat flapping around his apartment, and the following evening picks up an alluring vampire babe in a bar. Peter takes her back to his apartment and she bites him on the neck.
     From there Peter starts doing weird things like gobbling cockroaches and chatting with people who arenít actually present. He also steps up his harassment of his secretary, and, in a fit of total insanity, rapes her in the basement of their workplace.
     Peter decides heís a vampire. He buys a pair of plastic vampire teeth from a novelty shop and acts out the part, going out at night and sleeping during the day in a makeshift coffin (actually his living room couch tipped over). But when Peter actually kills a woman by chomping her neck, the police are alerted to his activities--and nor is his secretaryís tough mechanic brother especially happy about his sister being raped by PeterÖ

The Direction
     What makes this humorous yet gross and oddly discomforting film interesting is the fact that it never quite reveals its hand as to whether itís an eccentric horror movie or corporate satire. In truth itís both, not unlike AMERICAN PSYCHO without the pretension.
     Its shortcomings are those of screenwriter Joseph Minion, who based on his three major screenplays (VAMPIREíS KISS, AFTER HOURS, MORORAMA) comes up with wonderfully bizarre concepts but has trouble organizing them into a compelling whole, and rarely ever provides a satisfying conclusion. Itís well known that Martin Scorsese heavily reworked Minionís ending for AFTER HOURS, yet VAMPIREíS KISS director Robert Bierman lacked Scorseseís skill and experience. Thus the scriptís flaws are fully evident in the finished film, which is bold and unique, yes, but also disjointed, uneven and burdened with a really crummy ending.
     Yet the lead turn by Nicolas Cage makes it work. Speaking with a ludicrous upper-crust accent and affecting seriously outrageous postures and expressions (Cage has admitted that in one pivotal scene his primary motivation was to see how far he could open his eyes), itís one of the most out-of-control performances of all time, and eclipses those of everyone else in this film (whose cast includes skilled players like Maria Conchita Alonso, Elizabeth Ashley and future director Kasi Lemmons). I donít know that Iíd call Cageís work here ďgood,Ē but it is an undoubted standout in the field of over-the-top emoting, up there with the work of such unfettered thespians as John Carradine, Oliver Reed and Klaus Kinski.
 

Vital Statistics

VAMPIREíS KISS
Hemdale Film Corporation

Director: Robert Bierman
Producers: Barry Shils, Barbara Zitwer
Screenplay: Joseph Minion
Cinematography: Stefan Czapsky
Editing: Angus Newton
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Maria Conchita Alonso, Jennifer Beals, Elizabeth Ashley, Kasi Lemmons, Bob Lujan, Jessica Lundy, Johnny Walker, Boris Leskin, Michael Knowles, John Michael Higgins
 

     

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