We continue our foray into the cinematic oeuvre of Mr Nicolas Cage with one of the strangest performances that he has given. And, in a career practically made on strange performances, for this to stand above the rest – you know it has to be strange. If you know anything about Nic Cage, you will have heard tell about him being somewhat of a method actor with this film being cited as a pretty big example; since this is the film in which he ate a real live cockroach on screen. Just for the hell of it (oh, I’m sure it was for the plot – but, let’s face it, with Nic Cage, we never truly know what to think). Anyway, today’s film is Vampires Kiss.
Vampires Kiss tells the tale of Peter Loew, publishing executive and playboy. During a series of rather halfassed and pathetic one night stands, Peter meets up with a strange woman (Jennifer Beals) and all seems to be going well until a bat flies into his apartment and he begins to fantasize that he may be turning into a vampire. As his psychoses take greater and greater hold on his life, he starts to use his secretary, Alva (Maria Conchita Alonzo) as target, victim and foil for his various outbursts; scaring her to such an extent that she quits her job and enlists the help of her cousin to protect her after Loew assaults her in the basement of his office building while alternatingly hallucinating that he is giving himself to the strange woman he has come to believe is a vampire queen and begging Alva to kill him. Once he gives in to the fantasy that he has become a vampire, he returns to his life of trawling the clubs for sexual conquests, eventually “feeding” on a random young lass he encounters (or, to put it a more accurate way, killing her by biting her throat out). Eventually being driven mad by his own thoughts and action, he is found sleeping in a makeshift coffin (really, an upturned sofa) in his apartment by Alva’s cousin who, in a rage over the earlier attack, kills Peter with a stake through the heart.
I have heard this film be described as 90 minutes of “Nicolas Cage method acting a vampire”, but given some of the performances that the man has given throughout the years, pre AND post Vampires Kiss, I would more accurately describe it as 90 minutes of Nicolas Cage method acting Nicolas Cage. Everything about the man’s performance in this is bizarrely magnetic, from his “South African Keanu Reeves” accent (invented by him to cement the self-imposed pretentiousness of the character) to his (unlike my description of his style yesterday) rather quick spiral into sheer unhinged lunacy; Cage flips between hilarious, creepy, unhinged and even so pathetic that you have to feel sorry for the man with such ease and mastery that you can’t help but be entertained by him for the duration of the film. And, even though there are other characters in the film that he has multiple interactions with, this pretty much a one man show, with Cage using his castmates as little more than glorified props. And it really couldn’t work any other way – since this is a story of one man’s psychosis, it HAS to be that very same one man show.
There really isn’t a whole hell of a lot else that I can say about the film. If you want to see Nic Cage doing what he does best – going batshit crazy; there are a few films that I would recommend to give you just that, and now that I have seen Vampires Kiss, there is one more film that I add to that list.