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Robert Bierman, 1988
USA | Format: 35mm | 103 minutes
Fresh from his star-making turns in Peggy Sue Got Married, Raising Arizona and Moonstruck, Nicolas Cage delivered a wildly original, career-crowning performance—including the on-camera consumption of a live cockroach—in this pitch-perfect, pitch-black comedy about a Manhattan literary agent who believes he’s turning into a vampire. An anarchic companion piece to Scorsese’s After Hours, courtesy of the same screenwriter (Joseph Minion), Vampire’s Kiss offers an equally memorable portrait of the Big Apple as phantasmagoric hellhole, with Cage’s yuppified Peter Loew coming progressively unhinged after a one-night-stand (with seductive temptress Jennifer Beals) ends in a pair of fangs to the neck. Or does it? Directed by Brit Robert Bierman (who had been slated to helm The Fly before a family tragedy caused him to cede the reigns to David Cronenberg), Vampire’s Kiss nimbly teases us with the idea that Loew might simply be losing his mind, the victim of too much time spent in the corporate shock corridor, the city sucking his blood instead of the other way around.
"Nicolas Cage is airily amazing here. As a Manhattan literary agent—a poseur with a high-flown accent and a pouty, snobbish stare—he does some of the way-out stuff that you love actors in silent movies for doing. Something between a horror picture and a black comedy, this may be the first vampire movie in which the modern office building replaces the castle as the site of torture and degradation." —Pauline Kael, The New Yorker
"Cage's outrageously unbridled performance recalls such extravagant actorly exercises as Jean-Louis Barrault's in Jean Renoir's The Testament of Dr. Cordelier and Jerry Lewis's Buddy Love in The Nutty Professor." —Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader