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Vampire's Kiss (Special Edition)
Robert Bierman's 1988 film, Vampire's Kiss, follows a man named Peter Loew (Nicholas Cage), a materialist type who makes quite a nice living for himself working as an executive at a publishing company. Peter's got issues of his own though, and it's for that reason that he's visiting with his psychiatrist, Doctor Glaser (Elizabeth Ashley) on what must seem to her like a constant basis. He's also a swinging single guy, so when he's not at work or at his shrink's he's taking advantage of New York City's nightlife, cruising the bars looking to pick up.
It's on one of these adventures that Peter winds up taking a girl named Jackie (Kasi Lemmons) back to his apartment and just as things are starting to get hot and heavy, a bat comes out of nowhere and puts an end to things. When Peter mentions this to Glaser at his next session, he has to admit that this strange event excited him. Later on, Peter takes another girl home, this time it's Rachel (Jennifer Beals) and when they start making out, she bites his neck and draws blood. From here, it seems that Peter is slowly but surely turning into a vampire himself. Rachel admits to him that she was the bat that interrupted his encounter with Jackie that night, and he's definitely into what she has to offer. He becomes more ghoulish in appearance, his skin getting paler and his hair looking all raggedy, and his co-workers can't help but notice the change in him. Is Peter really turning into one of the children of the night or is it all in his head?
Vampire's Kiss may not be the greatest comedy ever written but it is a fun movie that holds up fairly well thanks primarily to Nicholas Cage's unhinged performance. This is a movie that lets the actor play to his strong points, allowing him to use those insane facial expressions he's capable of and that wild body language that has become a trademark of his style to create a memorable character out of Peter. The easiest (and most accurate) point of comparison for what Cage does here is Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. The characters share a lot of similarities: they're yuppie type, they're womanizers, they're materialists and they have an arrogance about them that many find off putting. Peter really embodies this arrogance in the way that he deals with his subordinates at work, terrorizing them at times and really going the extra mile to be a horrible person to work for. He harasses one of his employees, Alva (Maria Conchita Alonzo), to ridiculous degrees, though as the story evolves this subplot takes on more meaning and provides the movie with more than just a reason to laugh at the man's penchant for cruelty.
The movie starts off reasonably seriously, establishing the character and then, once he's been ‘bitten' and the vampiric angle of the story is established, it takes some twists and turns into some decidedly comedic territory, dark as much of that comedy may be. The supporting roles are good. Maria Conchita Alonzo is quite sympathetic and does well with the material while the underused Jennifer Beal brings the requisite amount of sex appeal necessary for her character to work to the film. Elizabeth Ashley is well cast as the shrink. Robert Bierman's direction is solid and the story remains engaging and interesting, but it's really Cage's work here that you'll walk away remembering.
Vampire's Kiss comes to Blu-ray from the MVD Rewind Collection framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and it looks quite good, seeming to mirror the previous transfer on the Shout! Factory release where it was paired with High Spirits (now out of print). The movie features nice color reproduction and good black levels and shows no obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement having been applied. There doesn't appear to be any serious issues with compression artifacts. Elements used were pretty clean, meaning you aren't going to see any major print damage on the film, just a few specks here and there. Skin tones look nice and the film generally looks very good here.
The feature gets the English language DTS-HD 2.0 treatment, with optional subtitles offered up in English, French and Spanish. No problems here for. Balance is fine throughout and dialogue remains clean and clear from start to finish. There were no noticeable instances of any hiss or distortion and the levels are good. The music sounds nice, providing a bit more depth and range than you'd expect.
The main extra on Vampire's Kiss is the commentary that was included on the previous DVD release with Bierman and Cage going into a whole lot of detail as to what was involved in this particular film We learn about some of the original casting choices, shooting on location in New York City, some of the effects work and more. Some of the film's more unusual details are explained, the best example being Peter's on again/off again accent and this turns out to be a nice mix of anecdotal storytelling and scene specific information. For those who feel Cage is embarrassed by this film, he does note in the track that ‘I want people to see this movie and rediscover it' which should kind of put that rumor to rest.
Outside of that we get the film's theatrical trailer, a TV spot, a collection of archival photos, menus and chapter selection.
As to the packaging, we get a nice slipcover with this release and folded up inside the Blu-ray case is a collectible mini-poster replicating the film's iconic poster art. We also get some cool reversible cover sleeve art.
Vampire's Kiss is pretty fun, giving Cage an excuse to do what he does best. The Blu-ray reissue from MVD Rewind doesn't really bring anything new to the table in terms of extras or presentation, but it does get this cult classic comedy back into print. Recommended if you don't have the previous, now out of print, Blu-ray edition.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.