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Default Vampire's Kiss



Reviewer: John
Review Date: January 18, 2003

Released by: MGM
Release date: 8/27/2002
MSRP: $14.95
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes | P&S: Yes (Side B)



It must be a rite of passage for today's actors/actresses to play vampires at one point in their careers. Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Esposito, Salma Hayek, Harvey Keitel, Sheryl Lee, and Brad Pitt are just a few who, at one time or another, have developed an unquenchable thirst for warm blood. Starring in a relatively obscure role, Nicolas Cage can now add his name to this ever growing list with Vampire's Kiss. Bouncing from genre to genre, Vampire's Kiss gives fans a unique look at the character that everyone wants to play. Tucked quietly between his success in Moonstruck and Wild at Heart, Nicolas Cage's portrayal of Peter Loew may be the best performance you've never seen.

The Story

inline Image Peter Loew (Nicolas Cage) is your typical yuppie bachelor. By day he is a strict publishing executive who consults with his psychiatrist, Dr. Glaser (Elizabeth Ashley) on a regular basis. By night he prowls the streets of New York, browsing bars in search of a female companion. One evening, he and Jackie (Kasi Lemmons) end up in Peter's apartment after a fine night of drinking. After both are just a few short articles from wearing their birthday suits, a bat swoops down and disrupts what could have been a night of lusty love. Though nobody was hurt physically, Peter found himself strangely aroused by the encounter. He briefly mentions the event to Dr. Glaser in their next meeting before hitting the streets again. This time Peter hooks up with Rachel (Jennifer Beals). The strange occurances continue as Rachel bites Peter's neck, providing a sensual feeling for him with consequences that follow.

inline Image Slowly, Peter begins to feel as if he is becoming a vampire. Rachel tells Peter that she was the bat who interrupted him a few evenings earlier, and he continually serves his neck up to her. As Peter begins to get ill from the bite, we mainly see how his professional side is affected. Already a boss from hell, Peter never lets up on Alva (Maria Conchita Alonzo). He harasses Alva endlessly, consistently making a fool out of her in front of her peers. His personal life is altered as well. The bite is slowly infecting Peter's thoughts, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. Is Peter a vampire? Is he mentally ill? Or is it both?

Vampire's Kiss is an example of a movie that has a goal, but not a plan. It is stuck between genres much like a vampire is caught between life and death. Beginning as a drama, we get some depth as to who Peter Loew is. He prances around the New York nightlife, looking to fulfill his manly passions. With his "Dr. Evil meets Patrick Bateman" accent, he is quite the ladies man. We do get the vibe though that Loew is as shallow as men come as far as relationships are concerned. He seems to be looking for something more than a one-night stand, but nobody has touched him the way that he desires. After the encounter in his apartment, the film begins to morph into a dark comedy. We see the professional side of Loew as he harasses his co-workers in classic fashion. All the while, the horror theme is weaving in and out of the picture with Rachel paying regular visits to him. It seems that the director, Robert Bierman, was a bit confused as to what type of movie he wanted to make. Some may consider the final product well rounded, while others may be put off by the lack of a consistency. I was a bit bored with the beginning, expecting a horror flick and getting more of a drama does not always please. Once the groundwork is in place, the film does get enjoyable. Those looking for a horror movie be warned that Vampire's Kiss is not scary. There are a few scenes that have gore and Nicolas Cage eats a live cockroach. With shows like Fear Factor making the consumption of insects more common, the shock effect of the scene is a bit diluted.



The key to enjoying Vampire's Kiss is Nicolas Cage. As he begins his mental transformation from man to vampire, we are given a showcase of what he has to offer in the field of acting. Though it would never be considered an Oscar worthy performance, Cage does manage to squeeze every ounce out of the role. The accent does get annoying. This alone may turn some people away from finishing a movie that starts slowly. If you can get past the little things, you'll see that some scenes seem to foreshadow his award winning work in Leaving Las Vegas; however the fact that this is a vampire movie will downplay the skills that are on display. By the end of the movie, we are wandering just what is real and what is not. Though not as effective, it is similar to The Sixth Sense in the fact that we are caught a bit off guard by the plot. If you wanted a good description of Vampire's Kiss, mix a less disturbing Martin with a darker Once Bitten. Maria Conchita Alonso does an excellent job as Alva, bearing the brunt of Lowe's erratic behavior. She is broken over and over again, but still wants to believe that Lowe is a good person. This is partially her fault, for being oblivious to the ways of a demanding, yuppie boss. In her defense, Cage does an excellent job convincing us that Lowe does actually have a heart. When he travels to Alva's house, to bring her soup and apologize for his outbursts, we feel a bit of compassion for the man who has made her look like an incompetent fool in front of her peers on a consistent basis. Jennifer Beals role is relatively small, but is a great casting decision. She is very believable as a seductress, taking advantage of Loew's worldly desires.

Image Quality

Vampire's Kiss is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 16:9 enhanced. While the opening shots of the city has some scratches and specks, the film cleans up nicely once the feature begins to unfold. There are some excellent camera angles that really set the mood that characters are being watched by a vampire or bat. The night scenes are done well and the overall color palette is a tad soft, probably due to the film's age. Being almost 14 years old, Vampire's Kiss holds up well with very minor grain. Overall, MGM has done a very good job. For those interested, the fullscreen version is available on the other side of the DVD.

Sound

Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, this audio track is quite strong. The deep bass and attention to detail seem to transcend the front speakers and fill the room. The score by Colin Towns does an excellent job setting the mood by mixing the horror tones and the comedy. The dialogue is crisp and there are no hisses or pops in the soundtrack.

Supplemental Material

inline Image We are provided with a screen specific commentary by director Robert Bierman and actor Nicolas Cage. They provide insight to the film and answer common questions that seem to pop up from audiences who view the film. We find out where the horrendous accent of Peter Loew's originated from and why it drops in and out throughout the movie. Bierman informs us that Judd Nelson and Jennifer Jason Leigh were potential leads in the film, but did not work out for various reasons. We even learn how Vampire's Kiss is tied into the Star Wars universe in an offbeat way. It is funny listening to these two reflect on a film made so early in their respective careers. They both seem to ride a fine line between being proud and a bit embarrassed by the final cut. The commentary certainly achieves its goals by giving the film more depth and providing some fun facts.

Also included is the film's theatrical trailer. Running just over 2 minutes, the trailer does a superb job setting the tone of the film. It doesn't mislead viewers into believing this is a horror movie, rather a dark comedy with romantic undertones. It does show some key scenes in the film, so it may be best to save this trailer for after the feature.

Final Thoughts

Vampire's Kiss will certainly not appeal to everyone. As a whole, I found the movie to be enjoyable. It provokes some thought and gets some good laughs along the way. While I am not an avid Nicolas Cage follower, I feel his performance is what made the movie what it is. If you are looking for a light horror or a darker type of comedy, give Vampire's Kiss a spin. With an MSRP of $14.95, a solid picture, strong sound, and an audio commentary, MGM's disc is a decent addition to any collection.

Rating

Movie - B+
Image Quality - B
Sound - A-
Supplements - B-


Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running time - 1 hour 43 minutes
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English Dolby Digital Mono
  • English, French, & Spanish subtitles

Supplements
  • Audio Commentary by director Robert Bierman and actor Nicolas Cage
  • Theatrical Trailer

Other Pictures

 

 

Extras
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