Nicholas Cage did this film in 1989, long before most of the more famous films he places high atop his resume. He admits this is a film he would not be able to do today but is damn glad he did. Director Robert Bierman was also pretty much a novice when he created this quirky dark comedy.
To be honest I never saw the film when it was originally released and approached the DVD with a lot of skepticism. Most of the performances are way over the top and the cinematography is simple, often resorting to what Hollywood calls “stolen shots” (filming done without any set-up in a public area using real people.) Still, I found a lot to like about the picture. The casting was pure genius, particularly Jennifer Beals’ haunting vampire.
Peter Loew (Cage) is a lonely literary executive who often stalks the clubs for a companion. One night he brings home a woman (Beals) who, and we’re never quite sure if it’s real, bites him on the neck. Loew slowly believes he is becoming a vampire and quickly goes out of his mind.
The soundtrack is a standard grade Dolby 2.0 track. There can be no doubt that the high point of this very simple mix is the wonderful score. Bierman used eastern European musicians to create an old world effect that comes across nicely on the DVD. The dialogue is often muddy due primarily to the limited outside production team used to record it. You can usually understand it, but it will require you to be paying attention. I had to re-watch several scenes to get it.
There is a wonderfully entertaining commentary track with Nicholas Cage and Robert Bierman. It is quite conversational in tone. It’s often like you are eavesdropping on these two as they get together for the first time since the film was shot. They readily admit the flaws of the film including Cage’s often over the top acting but apparently have warm feelings for this early project for both of them. This track is well worth catching.
Vampire’s Kiss is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. There is an optional Pan & Scan version but why would you watch it? For the most part the transfer is exceptional considering the small budget and young staff used to film it. There are restored scenes not available in the theatrical print, and they appear somewhat darker than the rest of the film. There are no artifacts and grain is noticeable only when it is intended. Colors are quite natural and blacks are usually convincing.
Aside from the exceptional commentary track there is only a trailer included on the disc. Also, as mentioned, there are added scenes in this cut of the film.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the writers for Jack Nicolson’s superior film Wolf were influenced by this film. Both characters work in the literary world. Both characters believe they were transformed by a casual lover, and both films leave you wondering for the most part. I love the fact that in Vampire’s Kiss you really never know for sure. So munch on a few cockroaches or pigeons and observe “the night of the damned.”