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This is my entry for LJ Idol, Friends and Rivals (therealljidol). This week we got to choose from three topics. I selected: "We All Have The Movie. The One We're Supposed to Hate. Talk About... In Depth. Spoil it and explain WHY you love it despite mostly everyone else."

On this overcast smudge of a day, when a sinus headache grips the back of my head in its talons, I find my mind playing tricks on me.

Is it possible I never watched "Vampire's Kiss" (1988) with my brother all those years ago? That I, instead, watched it by myself? Perhaps during my summer of vampires, 1992, while researching my last WPSU radio show, a four-hour examination of vampires in mythology and culture? It's possible. But if I had, I would have wanted to share that waking hallucination with someone, just to be sure I hadn't imagined the whole thing. I would have insisted my brother watch it, too, and probably watched it again with him.

Whatever the true origins of my introduction to "The Vampire's Kiss," the film has wormed its way into my mind, forcing me to exclaim, in mid-day, for no reason, "No! The sun!" Or to mutter, in a sing-songy voice, to someone who provides me with an item I've requested, "Too late! Too late! Too late!" (to which the proper response is to say, in utter confusion, "It's not too late. Why is it too late?")

My brother gets it. At least I think he does. I mean, I think that's an in-joke I share with him, and that I'm not the only one in on it.

For those of you who haven't spent an otherwise unremarkable summer gorging on vampire books and movies, let me tell you about "Vampire's Kiss." Actually, I don't have to. All you have to do is Google "Vampire's Kiss," and you're greeted with a healthy page of links related to the movie. You won't have to read far to discover that the movie, a black comedy horror film, received decidedly mixed reviews (ranking 59% on Rotten Tomatoes). Or that the film is legendary for Nicolas Cage's off-the-wall performance. In fact, if you do an image search for "Nicolas Cage crazy," the first page will be loaded with eye-bulging stills from "Vampire's Kiss."

To summarize, Nicholas Cage plays a loathsome Wall Street type, Peter Loew, who gets bit by a vampire. Or does he? That matter never gets resolved. What becomes increasingly clear throughout the film, however: his self-perceived transformation into the undead hardly necessitates his half-despondent, half-ebullient cries of "I'm a vam-pah! I'm a vam-pah!" As he finds more and more "evidence" of his vampirism, the viewer merely observes from the sidelines. He may not see his reflection in the mirror, but we certainly do.

Even odder, at times Peter Loew doesn't even seem to exist. Rarely does he play out a scene where anyone pays much attention to him, even when he's stumbling through Manhattan, begging people to stake him. Is his trusted therapist real? Or even his assistant, poor persecuted Alva? Does he even have a job? Aside from Alva's presence, his office seems decidedly bare.

"Bare" describes the subtle soundtrack, as well, restricted mostly to natural sound and songs played in clubs or apartments. Those invisible cues we depend upon to determine a scene's meaning? They simply don't exist. I was reminded of this while watching a YouTuber's montage of the Best Scenes from "Vampire's Kiss." Go ahead and watch it, if you like. There might be spoilers, but let's face it: you're probably not going to watch the entire movie anyway. Put together, even the best moments are painstakingly slow and awkward.

So why does this movie retain such a hold on my memory, when I have forgotten so much else? As a girl I read the entire Frank L. Baum series about Oz. Do I remember it? Not a bit. I scarcely recall most books I've read, and most movies, too. To stand out in my ocean of literary and cinematic experiences, a work must speak to me. "Vampire's Kiss" did, and not just for all the wrong reasons.

Why else would I remember one vampire movie from a summer's worth of feeding on the genre? Almost all the books and movies I imbibed, unless they were enshrined in my radio show, have lapped out to my cerebral sea. But "Vampire's Kiss" floats at the edges of my consciousness, and I think that now, 20-some years later, I can fathom why.

In 1992, stuck inside an emotionally abusive relationship, I used vampire lore as escapism. Whether I was reading "Carmilla" by Sheridan LeFanu or binge-watching the entire Dracula oeuvre by Hammer Films, I gained a few crimson moments outside of my cage. Since my research project was officially sanctioned "radio business," I got to invite my brother over to watch vampire flicks with me, a rare treat in those stunted days.

But here was something different! This victim was no victim. Deluded, perhaps, but he was completely capable of his own salvation, if only he'd stop shirking the light.

Time plays tricks. I no longer remember how soon after watching this movie I made my plans to leave. It must have been at least another year, but in my director's edit, I jump right to the moment where my then-boyfriend told me he didn't know what he'd do without me, and I told him that he would have to try.

That much happened. I'm sure of it.


( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2016 06:32 am (UTC)
I had completely forgotten that I'd seen this movie, and the fact that the main character might have been entirely deluded about being a vampire was one of the most interesting things about it.

It doesn't surprise me that, thus far, two of the entries have featured movies with Nicholas Cage. He's kind of a guilty pleasure all on his own. I can't even remember what the movie is (maybe Con Air?), but the line, "What... in the name of ZEUS'... BUTTHOLE" sticks with me more than 20 years later. It's kind of Shatneresque, his unusual choices of inflection-- except that they're definitely intended to be funny.

I'm glad that, apart from mere escapism and entertainment, this movie somehow prompted you to leave that relationship and to choose your own well-being over the projected well-being of the person treating you so badly. Look at the wonderful place you're in now, so very differentn from all of that.
Jan. 8th, 2016 03:06 pm (UTC)
I have sort of loved Nicholas Cage ever since Raising Arizona. I was greatly bemused by his "action hero" rebranding about ten years ago. What was that about, right? He is crazy good in Con Air.

Right now, I am in a very introspective space and finding lessons everywhere.
Jan. 11th, 2016 06:59 am (UTC)
I don't understand the action hero thing, either. Offbeat and weird are his specialties, and action movies are so ordinary compared to some of that.

I loved him in Raising Arizona, but I think I might have first seen him in "Moonstruck." With the missing hand, because hey, Nicholas Cage would never be a regular, fully-assembled character. Olivia Dukakis was fun in that movie, too. I can't remember whether it's she or Cher who tells someone they don't like, "Yeah? I'm gonna come to your funeral in a red dress."

What a great threat. :D
Jan. 11th, 2016 11:42 am (UTC)
Loved, loved, loved "Moonstruck." Cher was brilliant, but it was the interaction with Nicholas Cage that made the movie. Yes, offbeat and weird are his specialties, and humor, for sure.
Jan. 11th, 2016 03:17 pm (UTC)
It was Cher! That movie is wonderful! The dialogue, and subtle comedy. Olympia Dukakis and Cher's repartee is a treat also!
Jan. 11th, 2016 04:51 am (UTC)
It doesn't surprise me that, thus far, two of the entries have featured movies with Nicholas Cage. He's kind of a guilty pleasure all on his own. I can't even remember what the movie is (maybe Con Air?), but the line, "What... in the name of ZEUS'... BUTTHOLE" sticks with me more than 20 years later. haha this is so true though. i love him because he makes me laugh XD
Jan. 11th, 2016 06:55 am (UTC)
I loved him in "Raising Arizona," and that performance was practically restrained compared to what came later. \o/
Jan. 13th, 2016 04:21 am (UTC)
XD it really was!

have you ever seen this video? :'D

Jan. 13th, 2016 06:13 am (UTC)
Oh, man, that was EPIC! \o/

Clearly, nobody else needed any scenery to chew on, and good thing-- Cage leaves NOTHING behind! :D
Jan. 8th, 2016 09:25 am (UTC)
Vampire's Kiss usually goes into a special marathon for me. Along with My Best Friend is a Vampire and Once Bitten. While it's a little different than those two since they're definite straight forward vampire comedies while Vampire's Kiss probably isn't a vampire film AT all.

Instead the best pairing for it is the writer's other completely surrealistic, what am I watching, what is happening, what is going on perfect little film AFTER HOURS.

Yes... the man who wrote Vampire's Kiss also wrote a Martin Scorcese film.
Jan. 8th, 2016 03:03 pm (UTC)
Great idea! Either one if those marathins sounds like a great night. BTW I don't actually own this movie, but while working on this piece I discovered a double DVD on Amazon of Once Bitten and Vampire's Kiss. Both vamp comedies, I guess.

Hmm. This movie also could have worked for last week's Freumdschamen (sp?).

Why did I know you would know this movie?
Jan. 10th, 2016 04:11 am (UTC)
Honestly if it's American, from the 80s and cult... I probably know it. Even if I don't want to!
(Hell I may or may not even own it... based on how it exists in format and what my finances were when I saw it in a shop somewhere... I'm a bargain hunter)
Jan. 8th, 2016 05:06 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is a powerful entry and I had no inkling that it was heading towards such a powerful conclusion! Thank you for sharing this and for sharing your perception about how a piece of creativity can mirror the interior experience of an individual!! Strong thinking in this well-written piece.

(Have you seen "What We Do In The Shadows"?)
Jan. 9th, 2016 01:57 am (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words! I haven't seen that movie yet, but I've heard that it's good. I'll have to put it on my ever-expanding list of movies to see.

I think it's worth examining any pop cultural artifact with which we feel connected. It could probably teach us a lot about ourselves.
Jan. 8th, 2016 06:15 pm (UTC)
More Nicholas Cage! Yessss!!!!! AW
Jan. 9th, 2016 02:02 am (UTC)
Can't go wrong with Nicholas Cage if you're looking for guilty pleasure movies!
Jan. 11th, 2016 04:52 am (UTC)
this was my reaction too XD
Jan. 8th, 2016 10:17 pm (UTC)
I loved the way you mixed in the personal with the movie review (although not the abusive relationship). I also enjoyed the way you edit your own life at the end. Very nicely done.
Jan. 9th, 2016 02:03 am (UTC)
Thank you! I wanted to take it to another level, because I had never done much thinking about why that godawful movie resonated so much with me.
Jan. 8th, 2016 11:16 pm (UTC)
:) I think this just emphasizes the importance of stories in our lives. They serve such purpose! To contextualize our experiences, give us escapism, to show us what we can have (or can't). And they show us other people's lives, whether obviously fictional or not, to compare ourselves to.
That it was Nicholas Cage for you is hilarious, and yet somehow transcendent. :)) I'm glad you got out.
Jan. 9th, 2016 02:07 am (UTC)
Thanks for the very thoughtful comments. It's helpful to me to hear what people got out of what I wrote. Your summary, I think, is more eloquent than my piece!
Jan. 9th, 2016 03:20 am (UTC)
Oh the cray cray of Nick Cage knows no bounds! Watching that vid was somewhat surreal late last night. I really enjoyed this entry! Even if it belied a sadder time for you. Glad it is in your past.
Jan. 9th, 2016 06:59 pm (UTC)
Memory is so strange. Poking at these things and figuring out why some stick and some drift out, as you say, to the cerebral sea (GREAT turn of phrase there) can take you on many strange journeys. Thank you for sharing this one with us. :)
Jan. 11th, 2016 03:13 pm (UTC)
I remember that movie! Nicholas Cage is such a ham and egger! I'm a sucker(hehe) for any and all vamp stories, movies, and general stuffs. This will make me go and give it another giggle! Thanks for writing! Peace~~~D
Jan. 12th, 2016 06:20 am (UTC)
Well, I've learned more about NC's film career this week than ever before. lol It's easy to be mesmerized by a tale of vampires, so I'm considering digging out this movie and taking a chance with it.

Thanks for sharing.
Jan. 12th, 2016 01:22 pm (UTC)
LOL..I enjoyed the Best scenes video..NC sure seems to be a favourite when it comes to Bad movies..I liked the fact that it had a positive impact on your personal life as well..:) Cheers!

Edited at 2016-01-12 01:23 pm (UTC)
Jan. 12th, 2016 04:01 pm (UTC)
A good ironic movie is where the protagonist is their own antagonist. I'm a fan of absurdist humour, and that weird separation between what we should rationally do, and what we end up doing always makes me laugh.
Jan. 12th, 2016 05:13 pm (UTC)
With all of the movie reviews this week, I've been trying to spotlight reasons to either "possibly" watch them or not! When you said, "Or that the film is legendary for Nicolas Cage's off-the-wall performance," I laughed. A podcast I sometimes listen to, The Flop House, recently chose Outcast as this year's Cagemas film, and ... I think I've had my fill of Cage for a little while. LOL

I like your exclamations though. *grin*

Jan. 12th, 2016 08:42 pm (UTC)
I apologize for not commenting over the weekend when I read this. I really enjoyed your piece.
Jan. 13th, 2016 12:51 am (UTC)
Don't think I'll be watching this one. Nicholas Cage. But I enjoyed this. Thank you.
Jan. 13th, 2016 01:17 am (UTC)
This movie! This movie!

Oh holy cats, this is one place where I think Nicholas Cage's scene chewing (sic) is perfect. He is both pathetic and hilarious in the best possible meanings of both of those words. I'm so glad wrote about it and reminded me of it! It brought me great joy.

Here's a great vampire song that isn't nearly as silly as Cage, but is arguably equally over the top in its own goth way:

Jan. 13th, 2016 02:21 am (UTC)
So bittersweet: that sing plays in the opening scenes of "The Hunger," where David Bowie plays the aging human companion of a vampire and wastes away. Very well chosen.

Glad the entry made you smile!
Mar. 2nd, 2016 01:20 am (UTC)
Now that I don't have the pressure of deadlines, I have the chance to catch up on some back reading, and just caught this. I did see on Google the image that explains Nicolas Cage's face as a meme... I'm glad to finally have that origin explained. This seems like the kind of thing that would be ripe for our monthly nerd gatherings of Bad Movie Night. Also, I can completely relate to the appeal this had for you, too, on a personal level, having escaped an abusive relationship myself. You were smarter. You got away on your own. Good for you. I had to be put away. But thankfully, I bounce back and well. And obviously, you do too! Now just barely 4 months married, I hope to follow in your footsteps.

( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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