CATEGORIES Video
Between this week's ubiquitous 'New Moon' coverage and Nicolas Cage's lauded performance in Werner Herzog's 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,' the time has never been better to revisit 'Vampire's Kiss,' a 1988 film that combines vampirism, a descent into madness and yuppie alienation in ways that are unhinged and darkly comic. But consider yourself warned: This psychological thriller has much more in common with 'American Psycho' than 'Twilight.'

Cage plays Peter Loew, a pretentious literary editor with a faux-English accent, who spends his days harassing his secretary about missing files and his nights prowling bars for one-night stands. When he brings home Rachel (Jennifer Beals) and she turns out to be a creature of the night, Peter becomes both her victim and her prodigy, as he slowly begins acting like a vampire. Between this week's ubiquitous 'New Moon' coverage and Nicolas Cage's lauded performance in Werner Herzog's 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,' the time has never been better to revisit 'Vampire's Kiss,' a 1988 film that combines vampirism, a descent into madness and yuppie alienation in ways that are unhinged and darkly comic. But consider yourself warned: This psychological thriller has much more in common with 'American Psycho' than 'Twilight.'

Cage plays Peter Loew, a pretentious literary editor with a faux-English accent, who spends his days harassing his secretary about missing files and his nights prowling bars for one-night stands. When he brings home Rachel (Jennifer Beals) and she turns out to be a creature of the night, Peter becomes both her victim and her prodigy, as he slowly begins acting like a vampire.

What's compelling about the film, even despite its dated night club scenes, is that it's never clear whether Peter is imaging his situation or that it's so otherworldly that others cannot see what is happening to him. This ambiguity leaves a lot of room for Cage to develop a completely over-the-top character, one who takes his cues on how to act like a vampire from having watched Max Schreck in 'Nosfertu,' all raised eyebrows, hunched over and clasping his hands like Mr. Burns (critics have called his performance "neo-expressionistic" for its exaggerated mannerisms). Notoriously, Cage even ate a live cockroach for one of the film's more cringe-worthy scenes.

Despite his bug-eating and general despicability, Loew is at his most grotesque when dealing with Alva (Maria Conchita Alonso), his abused secretary who takes the brunt of his ugly madness. Some of the film's most famous scenes come from their exchanges, which are both frightening and hilarious. Eventually roaming Manhattan streets in plastic fangs and a blood-spattered suit, when he fully gives into the onset of vampirism, Loew turns his apartment into a virtual cave, using his overturned leather sofa as a coffin.

All told, this film is worth checking out, especially for the vampire completist. You'll find no Edward Cullen here, but you will leave with an awareness of '80s consumption, gender politics and class conflict in a way that might just keep you up at night.