Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vampire's Kiss (1988)

Vampire's Kiss (1988)
In the mid to late 1980s a bunch of vampire movies came out such as Fright Night (1985), Near Dark (1987), and The Lost Boys (1987), all of which I enjoyed. 
Vampire's Kiss is a horror-comedy movie about literary agent Peter Loew (Nicolas Cage) who thinks he may have turned into a vampire after being bitten by a beautiful girl named Rachel (Jennifer Beals). There isn't much of a plot and the main thing driving the story is a missing file that Loew's boss says early on it's not important. Despite this information, Loew uses the missing contract as an excuse to constantly harass his secretary (played by Maria Conchita Alonso who was in The Running Man and Predator 2). The harsh treatment of the secretary by Loew was just petty and made it hard for me to care about him, vampire or not. Not to mention the fact that he apparently raped this secretary?! Now I guess it is possible he simply imagined it but we see scenes between her and her brother without Cage's character that seem to imply it actually happened. It is possible for a film with an unlikeable protagonist to be work, but Loew is just not interesting outside the fact that he may be a vampire and the story just isn't there.
Most of the humor in the movie comes from Nicolas Cage's hilarious over the top but frantic performance. Although Cage is pretty ridiculous as usual, it does make Vampire's Kiss fun to watch. Overall though the tone doesn't work as the movie is trying to be a vampire horror-comedy along the lines of Fright Night but without much of a plot to support it. In Fright Night you had laughs and scares but they were used to reinforce an interesting story that wasn't just about whether or not the new neighbor was a vampire but how to stop him from turning others into vampires once his true nature was revealed. In Vampire's Kiss we are just left to wonder if Loew is really a vampire or a crazy yuppie dreaming this all up.

The above picture shows you what you are in for when it comes to Cage's acting in the movie. That facial expression in particular caught on with the recent "You Don't Say?" internet meme.
I watched Vampire's Kiss with a group of people and many of them didn't believe the movie was intentionally a comedy. I had no problem as identifying this movie as an intended horror-comedy and it seems to have always been marketed this way judging from the original trailer and posters. However, I think this shows that the movie wasn't able to capture the fun but serious enough tone of a movie like Fright Night.
Jennifer Beals is sexy as a vampire but she doesn't do much besides bite Loew then have sex with him. Couldn't she have helped find that missing file when she isn't out at night seducing Nicolas Cage?! Oddly enough Beals was also in Frankenstein movie The Bride (1985) a few years prior to this film.
Although Vampire's Kiss had its moments, all related to Cage's performance like him buying plastic vampire teeth or eating cockraoches, the movie didn't work for me. I liked that it was ambiguous as to if being a vampire was all in Loew's imagination, but there wasn't much of a point other than that. I feel that there needed more to the story than just "is he crazy or not?" since we don't get any definitive answers on that anyway. Maybe if Loew actively tried to be a human again or stop Rachel there would've been more to suck me in (pun intended) while keeping the ambiguity. I also think Loew should have been more likeable (like, you know, not a rapist!) so that we would have cared more about the character other than just what outlandish thing Nic Cage would do next.
Vampire's Kiss is watchable thanks to Cage's hilarious screams and wacky facial expressions. Without his memorable performance this movie would have been totally different and probably have been completely forgotten today. Nicolas Cage seems to always put in either great or terrible performances, all of which are usually interesting to see. I've now seen eleven Nicolas Cage movies, including his brief role in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982).
Another mid 80s vampire comedy is the movie Once Bitten (1985) starring Jim Carrey. I'll have to check it out sometime and see how it stacks up against Vampire's Kiss.

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