Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

(On DVD, May 2008) Nicolas Cage is rarely dull even when he’s not very good, and Vampire’s Kiss is one of the first citations on the list of his oddball projects. While everything about the film suggests a supernatural connection between a man and the vampire seductress who bit him, the reality of the film is far more fascinating, portraying an unrepentant womanizer sinking deeper and deeper in madness after convincing himself he’s turning in a vampire. While it does have a number of darkly humorous moments, it’s one death too far to be a funny film. It’s not an entirely successful one either, as Cage overacts with a grossly annoying British accent in the middle of a script that’s not quite focused enough. Still, some of the scenes are showpieces (yes, this is the film in which Cage eats a live cockroach) and the unusual re-use of vampire mythology is enough to earn this film a dark little place in any horror fan’s heart. Special note much be made of the splendidly multicultural female casting in this film, from an early role for director Kasi Lemmons to Jennifer Beals (as the vampire) and Maria Conchita Alonso as Cage’s terrified office assistant. Plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle details hint at the film’s thematic ambitions, which may warrant a second viewing for viewers mystified by the entire experience. The DVD, fortunately, contains an enlightening commentary by Cage and the film’s director.

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