In the 1990s, there were fewer stars bigger than Nicholas Cage. From Oscar nominees moon struck and Leaving Las Vegas to the melt-your-face-off action of Con Air, The stone, and . . . Face/Off, he was your go-to for Hollywood blockbusters.
But for every success, an actor has a resume of failures and flops. For Cage himself, most of his low-budget, poorly received films have come later in his career, due in large part to financial difficulties that have ensured he never turned down a role (with his most recent release, he avenged the death of his prized pig… Taken-style!).
However, early in his career, after he Raising Arizona and moon struck, he was poised to take Hollywood by storm. Then he decided to consider one of the strangest, darkest and in some circles his worst Hollywood movies, The Vampire’s Kiss.
Way out there
While Nicolas Cage has a long list of contenders for his worst picture, including: Bringing out the dead, The Wicker Man, and bad lieutenant, one thing is certain regarding The Vampire’s Kiss; it’s his most bizarre (and perhaps his most fun to watch?).
Upon its release in 1987, it was considered a flop and a dud at the box office. But since then it has gained an almost cult status, mainly thanks to the appearance of Nicolas Cage. Who doesn’t love looking at a train wreck?
To understand the cult following of The Vampire’s Kiss, you need to know where the movie comes from. It was written by a man named Joseph Minion, who, despite getting rid of his final screenplay of the legendary Martin Scorsese, was miserably depressed.
Minion himself admitted that he was “in a very dark place.” That feeling is certainly reflected in the tone of the film, centering around a man named Peter Loew. His inability to find love and companionship drives him further and further into mental instability, culminating in his belief that he is a real vampire on the streets of New York City.
How was The Vampire’s Kiss even green light?
Minion was given the go-ahead for this film in the midst of his own depressing relationship turmoil and hired Dennis Quaid as the lead. Unfortunately, or luckily for Nicolas Cage (and us?), Quaid had to drop out to make another film. This paved the way for Nicolas Cage to do what he does best.
In true Nicholas Cage fashion, he dove headfirst into a role that only a handful of people could have captured (seriously, thirty years later, memes were being made about this movie… Dennis Quaid is not a meme).
Chew (or suck) the landscape
During The Vampire’s Kiss, Nicolas Cage had to portray a man whose mental stability was constantly declining. He constantly pushes the boundaries of psychologically torturing his poor secretary named Alva (“ALVA, ALVA!!”) to roaming the streets of New York City in SoHo covered in blood and strangers begging for death.
If you watch this scene, you can see the legitimate concern and fear that people on the street have of him. . .nobody knew who he was or if they were being filmed. This was like a test audience for impractical jokers. It even went so far as to create one of the most talked-about moments on a film set in his entire career.
Script sucks an egg
In the script, Cage’s character had to suck a raw egg. However, both Minion and Cage felt that this was too tame for the character (of course, why settle?). Cage approached Minion and told him that one of his biggest fears in life was cockroaches. So naturally, Cage decided it would be best for him to eat a live one.
Strangely enough, they consulted a doctor, who advised them that Cage would not get sick from eating a cockroach, but that he should drink whiskey right away. Where can we get an appointment with a doctor who prescribes whiskey?
The scene in the movie where Peter Loew eats a live cockroach is 100% real. Nick Cage ate two cockroaches in two takes and followed it up with a vodka fighter. Someone fired the man who skimped on the whiskey and bought cheap vodka. . .the guy just ate two cockroaches!
This scene defined Nicolas Cage’s career in two ways. The first was for the public; he would always bring 100% of a character. And the second was for directors – this film gained cult status and showed why Nicolas Cage is the only person who could have made this character work. He is fearless.
So is The Vampire’s Kiss Nicolas Cage’s worst film? It had the potential to be his worst movie and maybe even a rival The room as one of the most gloriously horrific movies ever produced in Hollywood. But with someone like Nicolas Cage and his ability to get so deep into a character that it feels like watching someone slip to madness in real life, this is one of his more rewatchable bad movies in a long list of flops.
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