Vampire's Kiss

The bloodsuckers in this thriller may not have much bite, but here's a movie that can — it's guaranteed — drain the life out of an audience in minutes. The perpetually addled and adenoidal Nicolas Cage stars as a Manhattan literary agent. For kicks at the office, he browbeats his secretary (Maria Conchita Alonso). At night, he picks up whatever's handy in spike heels. One evening chez Cage, a bat swoops in the window and interrupts the agent's coital exertions. The lady runs off in terror. Not our Nick. Something about that bat turns him on. No wonder. After a quick transformation, the bat takes the comely shape of Flashdance's Jennifer Beals. Decked out in garter belt, clinging dress and scads of mascara, she's just Cage's type. He hardly resists when she sinks her fangs into his jugular.

Wait a minute. This is beginning to sound intriguing. Let me assure you, it's not. Screenwriter Joe Minion and director Robert Bierman can't decide whether to play this twaddle for goose flesh or giggles. They get neither. Even the presence of the reliably lively Elizabeth Ashley, as Cage's therapist, can't lift the film out of its torpor. There's little drama in watching Cage act strange after he's been bitten. He always acts strange. Even when Cage is effective (Moonstruck, Raising Arizona), he seems eerily out of touch with reality.

Just after Cage has raped the hapless Alonso and gone off in search of pretty necks to suck, he careens wildly through the streets, bashing into garbage cans and muttering, "I'm a vampire." That scene is the most embarrassing test of audience endurance since Rob Lowe sang "Proud Mary" on the Oscar show. What this movie needs isn't criticism, it's more like a stake through the heart.

From The Archives Issue 163: June 20, 1974
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