Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Bierman|
|Written by||Joseph Minion|
|Music by||Colin Towns|
|Edited by||Angus Newton|
|Distributed by||Hemdale Film Corporation|
|Budget||$2 million|
|Box office||$725,131 (US)|
Vampire's Kiss is a 1989 American black comedy film directed by Robert Bierman, written by Joseph Minion, and starring Nicolas Cage, María Conchita Alonso, Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Ashley. The film tells the story of a mentally ill literary agent whose condition turns even worse when he believes he was bitten by a vampire. It was a box office failure but went on to become a cult film.
Peter Loew (Nicolas Cage) is a driven literary agent and an example of the stereotypical narcissistic and greedy yuppie of the 1980s: he works all day and club hops at night, with little in his life but alcohol, one night stands and the pursuit of money and prestige. However, he is slowly going insane and sees a therapist (Ashley) frequently; it is during these sessions that his declining mental health becomes clear through a series of increasingly bizarre rants which eventually begin to scare even the psychiatrist. After he takes home a girl he met in a club named Jackie (Kasi Lemmons), a bat flies in through his window, scaring them both. At his next session he mentions to his therapist that the struggle with the bat aroused him, and after visiting an art museum with Jackie the next day, he ditches her, and she leaves an angry message on his phone.
Loew meets Rachel (Beals) at a night club, and takes her home. She pins him down, reveals vampire fangs and feeds on him. He soon begins to believe that he is changing into a vampire. He stares into a bathroom mirror and fails to see his reflection, he wears dark sunglasses during the day, and, when his "fangs" fail to develop, he purchases a pair of cheap plastic vampire teeth. All the while, Rachel visits him nightly to feed on his blood. Shortly after, Loew experiences mood swings and calls Jackie back apologetically, asking to meet her at a bar. As he is about to leave, a jealous Rachel appears and beckons him back inside. A dejected Jackie eventually leaves the bar and leaves an angry note on his door asking him to leave her alone.
A subplot concerns a secretary working at Loew's office, Alva Restrepo (Alonso). Loew torments her by forcing her to search through an enormous file for a 1963 contract. When she fails to find the contract, he at first browbeats and humiliates her, then visits her at home, and finally attacks and attempts to bite her at the place where they both work. She pulls out a gun, and Loew begs her to shoot him. Since it is only loaded with blanks, she fires at the floor to scare him off. He eventually overpowers her and attempts to bite her on the neck, ripping her shirt open and knocking her down. He takes the gun and fires it into his mouth, but is not harmed by the blanks.
Thinking he has transformed into a vampire, Loew goes out to a club wearing his vampire teeth and moving like the character Orlok from the film Nosferatu. He begins to seduce a woman, but when he gets too grabby she slaps him off, making Loew even more unhinged: he overpowers her and bites her neck, having taken out the fangs and using his real teeth. He then puts the plastic fangs back in. Leaving the club, Loew has a brief, ambiguous encounter with Rachel: she admits to knowing him, but gives the impression that they have not been in contact for a long period. He accuses her of being a vampire, and is expelled from the club.
Alva wakes up with her shirt ripped open, possibly thinking she was raped, and eventually tells her brother Emilio about the sexual assault, who is enraged and goes after Loew to seek revenge. Meanwhile, Loew is wandering the streets in a blood-spattered business suit, talking to himself. In a hallucinatory exchange, he tells his therapist that he raped someone and also murdered someone else. Based on a newspaper, the latter appears to be true, as the girl he bit in the club is announced dead. As Loew returns to his now-disastrous apartment (which he'd been using as a sort of vampire cave) Alva points out Loew to her brother Emilio, who pursues him inside his home with a tire iron.
In the midst of an argument with an imaginary romantic interest (supposedly a patient of his psychiatrist) Loew begins to retch again from the blood he had swallowed, and crawls under an upturned sofa, which he sees as his "coffin". Alva's brother Emilio finds him and upturns the sofa, and Loew holds a large broken shard of wood to his chest as a makeshift stake, repeating the gesture he had made earlier to strangers on the street when he had asked them to stake and kill him. Alva's brother, in a rage, pushes down on the stake and it pierces Loew's chest. Realizing he has committed a crime, a scared Emilio flees the place. As Loew dies, he envisions the vampire-Rachel smiling at him one last time.
- Nicolas Cage as Peter Loew
- María Conchita Alonso as Alva Restrepo
- Jennifer Beals as Rachel
- Elizabeth Ashley as Dr. Glaser
- Kasi Lemmons as Jackie
- Bob Lujan as Emilio Restrepo
- Jessica Lundy as Sharon
- Johnny Walker as Donald (as John Walker)
- Boris Leskin as Fantasy Cabbie
- Michael Knowles as Andrew
- John Michael Higgins as Ed
- Jodie Markell as Joke Girl
- Marc Coppola as Joke Guy
- David Hyde Pierce as Theater Guy (as David Pierce)
- Amy Stiller as Theater Girl
- Christopher Sluka as Hanger Out
Vampire's Kiss was released June 2, 1989. It grossed $725,131 in the U.S. It was released on home video in August 1990. MGM released it on DVD in August 2002, and Scream Factory released it on Blu-ray in February 2015.
Vampire's Kiss was considered a commercial flop upon its initial release but has developed a cult following since that time. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 61% of 23 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 5.9/10. In contrast, Metacritic has the film ranked at an average score of 31 based on 10 critic reviews. Variety wrote, "Cage's over-the-top performance generates little sympathy for the character, so it’s tough to be interested in him as his personality disorder worsens." Caryn James of The New York Times wrote, "[T]he film is dominated and destroyed by Mr. Cage's chaotic, self-indulgent performance." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "a sleek, outrageous dark comedy that's all the funnier for constantly teetering on the brink of sheer tastelessness and silliness." Hal Hinson of The Washington Post called the film "stone-dead bad, incoherently bad", but said that Cage's overacting must be seen to be believed. Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer called it an "imaginative, if warped, black comedy" that "succeeds as a wicked allegory of What Men Want". Reviewing the film on Blu-ray, Anthony Arrigo of Bloody Disgusting wrote, "The film may not work very well as a comedy, but there's enough of a dark derangement present to make it almost unsettling."
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- James, Caryn (June 2, 1989). "Vampire s Kiss (1989)". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- Thomas, Kevin (June 2, 1989). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Vampire' Sinks Fangs Into Big-City Nastiness". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- Rickey, Carrie (June 3, 1989). "'Vampire's Kiss': Nicolas Cage Goes Batty". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- Smith, Mark Chalon (August 23, 1990). "'Vampire's Kiss': A Metaphor With Bite". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- Cressey, Earl (August 1, 2002). "Vampire's Kiss". DVD Talk. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- Miska, Brad (January 6, 2015). "Scream Factory: Spirits, Vamps and New Year's Classics On Blu-ray!". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- "The Film Journal, Volume 92, Issues 7-12". The Film Journal. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- Tobias, Scott. "Vampire's Kiss features one of Nicolas Cage's best, most out-of-control performances". AV Club. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "Vampire's Kiss (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- "Vampire's Kiss". Metacritic. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- "Review: 'Vampire's Kiss'". Variety. 1988. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- Hinson, Hal (June 2, 1989). "'Vampire's Kiss' (R)". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- Arrigo, Anthony (February 9, 2015). "Vampire's Kiss / High Spirits (Blu-ray Double Feature)". Dread Central. Retrieved February 13, 2015.