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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Vampire's Kiss
Vampire's Kiss
MGM // R // August 27, 2002
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Earl Cressey | posted August 1, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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Nicholas Cage is by far not my favorite actor, but Vampire's Kiss has been a film I've wanted to see for awhile now, as it was recommended to me several times as an overlooked dark comedy. Directed by Robert Bierman, the film stars Nicholas Cage (Peter Loew), Maria Conchita Alonso (Alva), Jennifer Beals (Rachel), and Elizabeth Ashley (Dr. Glaser). According to the commentary, the film was cut for its theatrical release, and several of these cut scenes have been restored to the film. The running time on the case matches the running time listed on IMDB (103 minutes), so this may be another Dogs of War, where MGM slipped out the film with several cut scenes restored back into the film without noting it on the package.

After he is bit on the neck by one of his many conquests, literary executive Peter Loew, becomes convinced he's a vampire. After being bitten, he becomes increasingly eccentric and sadistic, especially towards Alva, his secretary. However, as his descent into madness continues, it becomes less clear if he's actually a vampire or if he's suffering from hallucinations brought on by a mental illness.

Though I'm not the biggest fan of horror films, I have seen my fair share of vampire flicks, and Vampire's Kiss is definitely unique and, when released in 1989, was certainly ahead of its time. Judging from the comments on the IMDB, it is also one of the more misunderstood films of the eighties, which I can understand, as the film is often ambiguous, complex, and subtle with many of the plot details. However, I was engaged throughout the film, due to the intricate performance by Cage, who portrays a character with numerous facets: the yuppie executive, the sadistic boss, and the lonely man who becomes psychotic. However, several details of the film irked me. Cage's accent, which does shift throughout the film and is explained in the commentary, was extremely grating. Jennifer Beals, cast as the seductive vampire, does nothing for me, and while I'm sure some people find her attractive, her bedroom scenes with Cage are tepid at best. However, the film suffers only slightly from these two details, especially once you're sucked into the movie.

Video:
Vampire's Kiss is presented in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full frame on opposite sides of the disc. Simply put, the transfer is incredible, especially considering the film's age. There are only a few specks throughout, as well as some light grain in a few scenes. Colors are natural, with accurate flesh tones and decent blacks, with one exception: In chapter fifteen, one shot is much darker and drab than others in the same scene.

Audio:
Vampire's Kiss is presented in Dolby 2.0 Surround in English. Given the fact many comedies have limited surrounds, I wasn't too surprised to discover the same holds true here, with the surrounds used mainly for ambient effects and the film's terrific score. Dialogue can, at times, be a bit too low, especially at the beginning of the film. For the most part, though, it is clean and easy to understand. Optional subtitles are available in English, Spanish, and French.

Extras:
The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary with Bierman and Cage. While Bierman has seen the film recently, Cage admits to not having seen it in several years. The two are relaxed and are entertaining as they explain and explore the film's ambiguities, Cage's shifting accent, the vampire motifs throughout, and the bug-eating scene. They share quite a few anecdotes from the set and Bierman talks about casting and shooting the film. The track is definitely recommended to fans or even causal viewers who are confused by some of the subtleties of the film.

The film's trailer is also included.

Summary:
MGM's release of Vampire's Kiss is a great example of a catalog title done right, as it has a great transfer, decent sound, a terrific commentary, and a low MSRP. Fans should definitely consider picking it up and even newcomers should give it a look if you're interested in black comedies or are a fan of Nicholas Cage.

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