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Episode 148 - Vampire's Kiss: LIVE!

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Jason, Paul, and June get it all wrong. It’s actually pretty clear that he is not a vampire in this film and that this is a story of a mental breakdown. I do not think it’s as ambiguous as they say. First off, NICK CAGE IS NEVER BITTEN BY ANYBODY OR ANTHING! Not the bat, not the girl, nada. I rewatched that scene and the bat never bites him and when he exits the room to meet the girl in the hall he does not put his hand to his neck as Paul remembers and we can see he has no marks. Then there are a few more scenes before we see him get bit by the girl and there are no marks so clearly—no bite. Then when the girl bites him it’s revealed this was not real by his waking up and serving coffee and talking to thin air—the girl was never there he just saw her and had a fantasy. Later we learn they don’t know each other. In these scenes in the morning he has no marks and then, he cuts himself shaving and for the FIRST TIME HAS MARKS ON HIS NECK BUT THEY ARE JUST FROM SHAVING! He wears the Band-Aid from then on. Every time he is with the girl it is a dream or fantasy, as is illustrated by her appearing in his office out of nowhere and then disappearing. Later Cage’s character shows us he is not a vampire by seeing his own reflection but acting like he can’t. This film would have shown no reflection if he was a vampire—this is a weird movie but not as directionless as the HDTGM team suggests. As for the bite murder scene, Paul was remembering it wrong again because they clearly show Cage take the plastic teeth out before biting the girl and put them back in after the murder—he used his regular teeth to kill her. At the end the obvious fantasy sequence with the doctor is the last and final revelation that yes, this man is crazy and is not a vampire.

 

I just wonder if those mimes were actors or other real people from New York that day.

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When Cage is walking down the street with that board covered in blood he bumps into a girl on roller skates handing out leaflets in a spandex "roller derby girl" outfit with a helmet that has a faux-hawk that reads 'Ad Skank" on the side. Was this a real business in the 1980's in New York. I google searched it and could not find any info. Does anybody remember these girls? Ad skanks? "Have this skank hand out your ad!"

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It's been a while since I watched this, but I think I vaguely remember thinking it was a metaphor for not just mental illness but drug addiction more specifically. In any case, this ep definitely makes me wanna watch again, with that director's commentary.  

 

edit: Yeah... I seem to recall the state of his apartment at one point seemed particularly drug den-y in a comically ludicrous kind of way.  

 

This movie is actually fucking awesome. Like, legit.

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I think this movie, based purely on Cage's insane performance, could be made into a fun DVD party game (the last of which was probably produced 5 years ago). The way it would work is that it would first show you the text of Cage's lines for an upcoming scene. Everyone could take turns acting out how they think Cage performed that scene. Then hit play and find out how it really went down.

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Great episode, wish I could have been there!

 

This movie had me dying with laughter, but the end got pretty genuinely disturbing to me...the darkness jumped up a whole nother notch!

 

In any case, I legitimately enjoyed the gang's analysis of what exactly this movie is about...

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Jason, Paul, and June get it all wrong. It’s actually pretty clear that he is not a vampire in this film and that this is a story of a mental breakdown. I do not think it’s as ambiguous as they say. First off, NICK CAGE IS NEVER BITTEN BY ANYBODY OR ANTHING! Not the bat, not the girl, nada. I rewatched that scene and the bat never bites him and when he exits the room to meet the girl in the hall he does not put his hand to his neck as Paul remembers and we can see he has no marks. Then there are a few more scenes before we see him get bit by the girl and there are no marks so clearly—no bite. Then when the girl bites him it’s revealed this was not real by his waking up and serving coffee and talking to thin air—the girl was never there he just saw her and had a fantasy. Later we learn they don’t know each other. In these scenes in the morning he has no marks and then, he cuts himself shaving and for the FIRST TIME HAS MARKS ON HIS NECK BUT THEY ARE JUST FROM SHAVING! He wears the Band-Aid from then on. Every time he is with the girl it is a dream or fantasy, as is illustrated by her appearing in his office out of nowhere and then disappearing. Later Cage’s character shows us he is not a vampire by seeing his own reflection but acting like he can’t. This film would have shown no reflection if he was a vampire—this is a weird movie but not as directionless as the HDTGM team suggests. As for the bite murder scene, Paul was remembering it wrong again because they clearly show Cage take the plastic teeth out before biting the girl and put them back in after the murder—he used his regular teeth to kill her. At the end the obvious fantasy sequence with the doctor is the last and final revelation that yes, this man is crazy and is not a vampire.

 

I just wonder if those mimes were actors or other real people from New York that day.

 

Yes, you are 100% correct. I haven't had a chance to listen to the episode yet, but I am astounded that there seems to be some kind of confusion about this. In fact, I'd say that's where the "horror" comes from. Vampires aren't scary, because they don't exist; however, the idea that a person can become so deranged as to think they're a vampire is truly unsettling since that actually could happen. I think the real question is: why does he go crazy? As far as I can tell, this movie seems to be be about unrequited love, that leads an already troubled individual, down a dangerous path of obsession.

 

The movie starts with Cage talking to his psychiatrist and he is telling her a story she seems all too familiar with--he met a woman, took her home, and made it clear to her the next day, that it was nothing more than a one night stand. However, there is a tinge of regret to Cage's story and he basically ends the session. Next, he meets another woman at the bar. He takes her home, and just as they are about to have sex, a bat flies in through the window and interrupts them. A regular, run-of-the-mill bat. And although this is an unusual thing to happen, there's nothing supernatural about it. The "battle to the death" with the bat then increases his testosterone level, which combines with his pre-existing arousal and confuses his mind. Somehow, he conflates the oddity of the bat with the woman he's obsessed with which leads him to "vampire.". This is where the movie takes a bit of a left turn, since any rational person would never come to this conclusion, but Cage's character is in no way rational. Perhaps it's because a womanizer like himself could never accept that a woman could ever hold that much power over him that his boo-coo-bananas mind automatically goes to a supernatural explanation...

 

Throughout the rest of the movie, Cage is fixated on Beals' character--just some stranger who seems to frequent the same clubs as him and who also appears to already be in a loving relationship. This seems to be what Cage ultimately wants. This is why, randomly, one of his delusions is of the happily married cab driver and his wife. In fact, he seems to be assaulted with couples wherever he turns. It's also why, in his final delusion, he is presented with the "perfect" woman. You killed a person? No big deal. You raped someone? That's okay. I love you for who you are. The problem is, at this point, Cage has pedestalized Beals to such a crazy extent, that he can't even accept a woman his own mind makes up--even if she is "perfect." And this is why, by the time he makes it back to his home, he is already abusing his new "girlfriend."

 

Basically, while this movie takes it to an absurd extreme, the movie is positing, if you idealize someone--especially someone unavailable--you're only going to drive yourself crazy. This also explains the subplot regarding the files which mirrors this crisis. Cage is obsessing about something that is alluding him (the files) even though the other party (the author) is ultimately indifferent to his fixation. The irony is, assuming Cage's character was a sane and likeable person to begin with, the woman Cage brings home with him at the beginning of the movie actually seems to be well-suited for him. But because he is so wrapped up in his fantasies of this unattainable woman, he completely misses out on what could have been a good and meaningful relationship

 

Overall, I liked the movie, but didn't exactly enjoy it. I thought Cage was awesome in it, but it's not something I'd revisit anytime soon. Like Bonjourjamie said earlier, I really wanted this movie to take me out of the funk I've been in since Tuesday, and a disturbing movie about going insane and raping your employee isn't exactly what I was looking for. I thought it was going to be a comedy, but I was legitimately disturbed by it.

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Love the new signature Cameron, although I really think the moment is perfected in the next two lines: "Very good, you know your alphabet. / I never misfiled anything, not once, not one time."

 

Cage's toolkit of gestures are so over the top in this movie - the jumping on the desk, the pointing, the walking into walls, the Peter Pan hands on hips - that the mimes having the slap fight didn't seem particularly out of place to me. In his psychosis, these guys fit in just right and I was disappointed not to hear the director own that choice. I can't remember when I saw a more overtly theatrical movie.

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In my mind, the therapist from Vampires Kiss (especially in the fantasy scenes) was the inspiration for the therapist from Crank 2

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Jennider/Jessica Beals' fingernails change color between the time they meet at the club and when they bone zone at his place, which is presumably the same night. They're very dark at the club and bright red at his place.

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I have such mixed feelings about this movie, I cannot properly comment on it. I'm still digesting it. All I can really say right now is that it's hilarious, but also horrific.

 

To add onto some comments...

 

I will add that I also noticed Cage removed the plastic teeth during the attack in the club, but I wasn't sure if it was before or after she actually started bleeding.

 

The "battle to the death" with the bat increases his testosterone level, which combines with his pre-existing arousal and confuses his mind. He then sees the woman out and returns to his room, only to find a pair of panties lying on the floor. Now, the woman he just saw out was still wearing her panties, so in his fragile state of mind, he somehow associates the bat with the panties which leads him to "vampire.". This is where the movie takes a bit of a left turn, since a rational person would never come to this conclusion, but Cage's character is in no way rational.

 

The testosterone thing makes sense, but what I picked up is that they both get dressed and leave in a hurry then go to the woman's place for the night. Thus when Loew's at work the next day, he's missing his socks. And because I noted the missing socks, I thought the article of clothing he picked up when he got home was one of his socks. I don't have a way to rewatch the movie to confirm this, so if anyone else can confirm it, please let me know! I want to understand the significance of that article of clothing lol

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From all the comments I can tell now I'm happier that I decided not to pursue watching this movie. Don't know if I could handle that kind of scene this week. I really appreciate everyone addressing that content so that now I know.

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I was hoping Paul would give us a tiny bit of insight into working with Nicolas Cage, and whether there was any awkwardness involved. Paul has a supporting role in Nicolas Cage's upcoming film Army of One.

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This movie was awful, like not in a fun way. Repeatedly hearing women called bitches and cunts, mistreated, harassed and raped (WTF GUYS, NOT COOL, WARNING WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE). Add to that it's painfully slow. Like CameronH said, this was disturbing and not something I will be revisiting.

 

Blech.

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Count me in with bonjour, Cameron H, and fanny pack. This was the first time I had actually watched a movie prior to its HDTGM episode, since I was traveling to Anaheim to see the show in person (which was a joy, of course). I had to tap out after about an hour and pick it up later, partly because I was busy that week and partly because I was like "Dammit Paul, you were supposed to give me a fun movie, not Nick Cage harassing a secretary for two hours!"

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In addition, there is how blasé everyone at the office is about her mistreatment, and how dismissive Alva's mother is about it. All I could think of as it went on was, "Welp...'80s."

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Okay, I thought about it as I was going to sleep and yeah...

 

This movie is awful and certain parts were downright hilarious... while Cage's spiral into madness is in a way entertaining and the mystery of "is this really happening to him or not?" is fairly engaging, the harassment of Alva is simply too much and seems unnecessary to the telling of the story. Like I kept thinking back on how he harassed Alva and there is absolutely no good correlation between his transition into a "vampire" and how cruelly he treated her. It would be different, perhaps, if he stalked her as "prey", but he never sees her as such. He just has this disturbing obsession with making her life miserable. And as a female viewer, that especially is terrifying. Like if I could, I would just split this movie apart and leave only the non-office abuse scenes. Leave in him wearing the sunglasses at work, because THAT makes sense with his delusions. Come on, Nosferatu was less of dick.

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Okay, I thought about it as I was going to sleep and yeah...

 

This movie is awful and certain parts were downright hilarious... while Cage's spiral into madness is in a way entertaining and the mystery of "is this really happening to him or not?" is fairly engaging, the harassment of Alva is simply too much and seems unnecessary to the telling of the story. Like I kept thinking back on how he harassed Alva and there is absolutely no good correlation between his transition into a "vampire" and how cruelly he treated her. It would be different, perhaps, if he stalked her as "prey", but he never sees her as such. He just has this disturbing obsession with making her life miserable. And as a female viewer, that especially is terrifying. Like if I could, I would just split this movie apart and leave only the non-office abuse scenes. Leave in him wearing the sunglasses at work, because THAT makes sense with his delusions. Come on, Nosferatu was less of dick.

 

I actually have a theory about that. I was going to include it in my previous post, but I recognize that I tend to go on and on sometimes...

 

If we accept that this movie is about a man's frustrations about being unable to fulfill his unrealistic fantasies--especially as it pertains to finding a romantic partner--then his treatment of Alva is the inverse of that. He feels powerless and miserable that he can't be with who he wants, so to make himself feel better, he finds a person he thinks he has control over and does the same thing to her. That's why her being the very last person on the office's ladder is so important to him--since rape is rarely about sex and almost always about power. I actually would have liked for her to be the one to kill him in the end since that would show that she wasn't as powerless as he thought. I guess her power comes from the strength and support she gets from her brother..? Which I admit isn't quite as satisfying, but I suppose it's something.

 

But yeah, Cage's character was such a lowlife creep that he was almost impossible to follow. I was like, "Am I supposed to be rooting for this guy? I thought this was supposed to be a comedy like Once Bitten or Rockula."

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The testosterone thing makes sense, but what I picked up is that they both get dressed and leave in a hurry then go to the woman's place for the night. Thus when Loew's at work the next day, he's missing his socks. And because I noted the missing socks, I thought the article of clothing he picked up when he got home was one of his socks. I don't have a way to rewatch the movie to confirm this, so if anyone else can confirm it, please let me know! I want to understand the significance of that article of clothing lol

 

You're right. I just re-watched that scene, He does leave with her and that is his sock. Good eye :)

 

I revised that theory in my original post, hopefully it makes more sense now.

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I think it's worth taking a brief moment to look at the timeline of this movie. Based on his conversations with the therapist throughout the film we can firmly establish that Nic Cage's character visits his therapist every Tuesday afternoon. With that in mind, given the first scene is with the therapist we now know that this movie takes place over the course of a month.

 

Week one, he meets Jackie and has his encounter with the bat. He also gets the letter about the client wanting a copy of the contract.

Week two begins with Alva still not finding the contract. That Saturday night he gets "bitten" and the following day goes to Jackie's art show. It is at this point he starts wearing the band-aid which he will do so until the end of the movie.

Week three, Alva is still unable to find the contract. He's mean, but not full on cruel yet. On the weekend he tries to patch this up with Jackie only to be derailed by his delusions. It's the Monday at the end of this week when he chases Alva through the office.

Week four starts with him reciting the alphabet and takes us to the very end of the movie.

 

So what does this all mean? Well, even though we know the neck wound is from shaving what if he did get bit or scratched by the bat? Symptoms of rabies include insomnia, anxiety, increased activity, restlessness, and hallucinations. All of which Nic Cage's character starts showing by the second week of the bat incident. Rabies usually starts around three weeks which puts it in line with the scene of him chasing Alva. However, rabies can start showing signs around 9 days which puts it nearly exactly in line with his first encounter with Jennifer Beals. Based on his actions and how it corresponds to the timeline I think it's clear that this movie is about a depressed man with inferiority and relationship issues that get amplified to the nth degree and manifest themselves as a vampire fantasy when he is infected with rabies from a bat.

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If we accept that this movie is about a man's frustrations about being unable to fulfill his unrealistic fantasies--especially as it pertains to finding a romantic partner--then his treatment of Alva is the inverse of that. He feels powerless and miserable in his own life that he can't be with who he wants, so to make himself feel better, he finds a person he thinks he has control over and does the same thing to her. That's why her being the very last person on the office's ladder is so important to him--since rape is rarely about sex and almost always about power. I actually would have liked for her to be the one to kill him in the end since that would show that she wasn't as powerless as he thought. I guess her power comes from the strength and support she gets from her brother..? Which I admit isn't quite as satisfying, but I suppose is something.

 

But yeah, Cage's character was such a lowlife creep that he was almost impossible to follow. I was like, "Am I supposed to be rooting for this guy? I thought this was supposed to be a comedy like Once Bitten or Rockula."

I'm very conflicted over Alva's brother killing Nic Cage. Throughout the second and third acts as he succumbs more and more to his illness he starts wanting to be killed as a sort of release. Whether it be the metaphoric release from his inner demons and psychosis or release from the grip of the vampire, he wants out. So when he's killed at the end of the film he gets his release. So he basically rapes two women, murders one of them, and gets to die like he wanted. If we were suppose to root for him, is it a positive outcome? Sure he dies, but he gets what he wants and while Alva gets some sort of "justice" via her brother the club victim is left as a cold case. If we weren't suppose to be rooting for him and rather rooting for Alva, is his death a meaningfully outcome to her story when he was begging to die? If he had lived would he have confessed to his therapist like he did in his mind? Was his hallucinatory confession suppose to absolve him to us the viewers?

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All right, guys. I'm going to jump right into this with a bit of history of the vampire narrative.

 

Vampire folklore started in eastern Europe. It started entering western Europe - especially England, France, and Germany - in the 18th century. Another funny thing was happening at around the same thing: the church was beginning to have far less control and impact on people's daily lives (there's a lot more historical nuance here, but this oversimplification is enough to get my point across). During the height of Catholicism in Europe, one of the most frequently-used didactic tools was the narrative of saints' lives, also known as hagiography (pronounced "hay-gee-ography" or "hag-ee-ography").

 

These narratives were used to show the public how the ideal person would live. Male saints led battles, fought dragons, and protected the weak. Female saints stayed virginal. That's it. Hagiographical accounts of women all follow the same formula: evil man wants to sleep with woman; woman resists; man tortures woman; woman dies while maintaining her purity. It was used to convince women that their purity was the most important thing in the world and the sole source of their value.

 

Cut to the decline of Catholicism and - by extension - hagiography throughout much of Europe. Much of this ideal had been internalized by the populations of western Europe and found its way into the vampire narrative. For example, in Bram Stoker's Dracula, the flirtatious Lucy Westenra gives in to Dracula, which leads to her eternal punishment as a sort of vampire banshee. Meanwhile, the chaste, pure Mina Harker resists. Her violation is against her will, so her purity is maintained, and (spoiler alert for a book written over 200 years ago) she is saved and ultimately redeemed when Dracula is killed.

 

The physical penetration of the bite is always a metaphor for sex in the vampire narrative. The best, most widely accessible modern example that comes to mind at the moment is Twilight and its awful message of Bella's purity. Edward only bites Bella after they are married. She remains pure and thus one of the "good" vampires. Meanwhile, the bad vampires are all incredibly more sexualized and - we are to assume - promiscuous

 

As much as I am a huge geek for European folklore, vampire mythology, and hagiography, this perspective is something I never even considered while watching the movie. Thank you so much for this! I no longer regret actually spending the time watching this piece of maddness detritus. The AIDS allegory I got, but not the hagiography. Thank you again.

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I think it's worth taking a brief moment to look at the timeline of this movie. Based on his conversations with the therapist throughout the film we can firmly establish that Nic Cage's character visits his therapist every Tuesday afternoon. With that in mind, given the first scene is with the therapist we now know that this movie takes place over the course of a month.

 

Week one, he meets Jackie and has his encounter with the bat. He also gets the letter about the client wanting a copy of the contract.

Week two begins with Alva still not finding the contract. That Saturday night he gets "bitten" and the following day goes to Jackie's art show. It is at this point he starts wearing the band-aid which he will do so until the end of the movie.

Week three, Alva is still unable to find the contract. He's mean, but not full on cruel yet. On the weekend he tries to patch this up with Jackie only to be derailed by his delusions. It's the Monday at the end of this week when he chases Alva through the office.

Week four starts with him reciting the alphabet and takes us to the very end of the movie.

 

So what does this all mean? Well, even though we know the neck wound is from shaving what if he did get bit or scratched by the bat? Symptoms of rabies include insomnia, anxiety, increased activity, restlessness, and hallucinations. All of which Nic Cage's character starts showing by the second week of the bat incident. Rabies usually starts around three weeks which puts it in line with the scene of him chasing Alva. However, rabies can start showing signs around 9 days which puts it nearly exactly in line with his first encounter with Jennifer Beals. Based on his actions and how it corresponds to the timeline I think it's clear that this movie is about a depressed man with inferiority and relationship issues that get amplified to the nth degree and manifest themselves as a vampire fantasy when he is infected with rabies from a bat.

 

The thing with the whole rabies argument is according to the CDC, "most bats don't carry the disease." I even remember a Biology teacher of mine back in High School telling us that you needn't worry about being bitten by a bat with rabies, because due to the erratic nature of rabies symptoms, they wouldn't be coordinated enough to fly toward you and bite you. The bats you have to be worried about are the ones flapping around on the ground. Don't pick those fuckers up.

 

This isn't to say that him getting rabies from a bat wasn't the filmmaker's intention, just that it's an unlikely real world scenario.

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I read that Nic Cage attempted to do a "wolf voice" a la Jean Marais for Moonstruck and was told the voice didn't work and he might be replaced. He did Vampire's Kiss right after Moonstruck and I'm assuming he had already backed down on one accent so he went all out on the next one. Also we can all thank Moonstruck as Nic Cage thought it was so smultzy that he HAD to make Vampire's Kiss.

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The thing with the whole rabies argument is according to the CDC, "most bats don't carry the disease." I even remember a Biology teacher of mine back in High School telling us that you needn't worry about being bitten by a bat with rabies, because due to the erratic nature of rabies symptoms, they wouldn't be coordinated enough to fly toward you and bite you. The bats you have to be worried about are the ones flapping around on the ground. Don't pick those fuckers up.

Well it was a good theory but this information is good to know. Not that I have to worry because Japan is supposedly rabies free.

 

Speaking of which I have some fun Japanese stuff related to this movie that I'll wait until things die down a bit to post.

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Ok, much of this movie is in Nic Cage's head. I'm pretty sure the 'so important' missing file/contract is in Cage's head also. Whether he's doing it intentionally or subconsciously just to torture his assistant. That's why it can't be found.

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