Vampire's Kiss Review
Nicholas Cage is still one of the big names in Hollywood. He hasn’t done any major films recently except for Matchstick Men and it looks like we won’t be hearing from him for a while until the release of National Treasure. But we’re not looking at his present career at the moment. Before he shot to super stardom with his Oscar winning performance in Leaving Las Vegas he appeared in low key films such as Vampire’s Kiss, a blink or you’ll miss it release at the cinemas back in 1989. Now MGM have decided to release this cult film on its budget range. Cult, though, wouldn’t be the first word to come to my head. The word I’m thinking of is insane.
In Vampire’s Kiss, Cage plays New York publishing executive Peter Leow. He’s a fancy, well-groomed, single American who obviously enjoys the thrills of his expensive lifestyle and his many conquests of women. One evening out however, Leow meets Rachael (Jennifer Beals) and as you could probably expect with Leow’s smooth talking manages to woo her to bed. However, in the midst of passion Rachael shows off her vampire fangs and Leow is bitten. During the many days after the romp of passion with this supposed vampire, Leow starts acting very weird.
With a plaster to cover his bite mark, Leow starts exhibiting the behaviour of someone becoming a vampire. He becomes fearful of the sunlight. While this all seems very real to Peter, the fact of the matter is, he’s going completely insane. Everything he believes is happening to him is a figment of his imagination and what is more disturbing is that it’s affecting the people around him. The most effected would be Leow’s suffering Latin secretary Alva (Maria Conchita Alonso) who gets repeatedly verbally roasted by Leow and also becomes the target of his bizarre and over the top outbursts. It’s something that Leow seems to get a very disturbing kick from through his sadistic behaviour toward her.
With Leow’s behaviour spiraling out of control, it is only time before something seriously goes wrong for the successful publisher. Both his professional and personal life is crumbling under the spell of his vampire beliefs despite professional help from his psychiatrist (Elizabeth Ashley). As far as Peter Leow’s concerned, he’s becoming a vampire no matter how utterly disturbing he becomes around others and it will ultimately lead to his downfall. Poor Peter.
Vampire’s Kiss is definitely a film to watched more than once as it tends to confuse the viewer with what is real and what is surreal throughout its length. The confusion tends to lie with Leow’s bizarre antics, he has several moments where he is seemingly talking to someone and yet he isn’t. Those familiar with films of this ilk may take this in their stride but anyone expecting a standard silly horror movie may have trouble getting their heads round the concept. This mixture of horror comedy with a twilight zone element is not enough to make it anywhere near a classic, but Vampire’s Kiss is entertaining for one reason and that is Nicholas Cage’s demonic, bizarre, and absolutely insane performance as Peter Leow. There’s nothing really memorable about this film apart from Cage prancing about thinking he’s a vampire. Whether he’s chasing pigeons wearing false vampire teeth, or shooting a gun full of blanks in his mouth, or even eating a live cockroach, this is the most disturbing character I’ve seen him or any actor play. I could sound like I’m over-praising Cage for a film I haven’t rated highly but his performance is quite simply brilliant.
In short, Vampire’s Kiss is perhaps recommended only for Nicholas Cage fans. He does deliver a wonderful performance in this slightly above average black comedy. Those accustomed to strange comedies like this will most certainly get their money’s worth, for others it will be deemed quite cranky.
Video and Sound
Vampire’s Kiss graces DVD via a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Taking into account this film was made in 1989, the transfer on the whole looks quite good though sadly there has been no attempt at a restored picture so Vampire’s Kiss’s does suffer from dirt and picture grain throughout.
The audio presentation is nothing special either. A standard Dolby Digital 2.0 track has been provided along with an Italian, German, and Spanish counterpart. The sound’s crystal clear and there is nothing wrong with its output from the front speakers. No dropouts or distortions and you can hear what is being said. It may be a standard audio presentation but be thankful it’s a good one.
Skip this section, MGM provide no extras for Vampire’s Kiss. Despite the fact there is a menu screen, what really surprises me is the lack of effort on MGM’s part to actually tell viewers what the icons mean. You got a list of icons next to several pictures from the film and nothing else. There has been some effort in the chapter selection screens that are full motion clips. But apart from that, there’s nothing on this DVD apart from the film. The American release has a commentary with Nicholas Cage so I am quite surprised that MGM haven’t decided to port this across, so if you want to hear what Cage has to say about his insane performance then I urge you to check out the R1.
Strange, dark, and perhaps too barmy for its own good, Vampire’s Kiss really appeals to anyone who adores Nicholas Cage’s work. It’s his performance that makes this watchable and thoroughly entertaining in parts. MGM brings the film onto a bargain DVD with very, very, simplistic menus and a satisfactory audio-visual transfer so you get what you pay for. However, MGM should really have included the commentary track found on the R1 alternative.