Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vampire's Kiss

Robert Bierman | 1989 | 103 min | US

The world seems to have forgotten what Nicolas Cage was like before his Con Air-ification. Well I'm going to remind you: he was awesome. Offbeat and sharp and hungry for unique roles and awesome. Cage also possessed a penchant for bizarre accents that did not exist in the actual world. For his role as New York publishing big wig Peter Loew of Vampire's Kiss he settled on "businessman," which is apparently shorthand for "fey, over-enunciating, preening, eighties power broker." Excellent call, Nick.

This successful publishing shark's life changes considerably after he takes home a remarkable woman from the bar one night. A woman, it turns out, who has a thing for neck biting. In the days following the bite, Peter Loew finds himself growing more sensitive to light, becoming increasingly hostile and obsessive toward his secretary, and eating cockroaches. As his mood darkens, everyone (Loew, Loew's therapist, and audience alike) are left to wonder whether Loew is turning into a vampire or whether he is a lunatic who has a thing for vampire movies.

This a wildly strange film. Back in the day it was positioned and marketed as a quirky romantic comedy. It is not. At all. Sure, everything about the film's delivery says "Comedy!", but Loew and the film's tone in general climbs a ladder of sadism as his obsession grows. Vampire's Kiss is incredibly dark, it just takes a while for one to catch on to that fact. After one scene I found myself thinking, "did he. . . was that a rape?". Turns out it was. But that is the great trick of the film. You are taken to so many extremes inside Loew's mind and in the real world that the "fact" and "fiction" within the film become confused in every regard. By the time the final reveal is made you know exactly what is coming, but it is still horrifying. And hilarious. This one was done square in the Awesome Cage Era, so treat yourself to visiting a time forgotten.

Terribly underrated movie! And it is Halloween today! Everyone loves a good Halloweeny movie! At least they should! Halloween!

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