18 Rad Facts I Learned From the VAMPIRE’S KISS Commentary Track

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VAMPIRE’S KISS is one of those films that I could write about for years – maybe even my whole life. Every time I watch it, I discover another part that enriches my experience. It’s a weird, amateur film but it works for those reasons. Many can shrug this off as a highlight reel of Cage’s bizarre acting techniques or not grasp the film for what it is and see it as complete nonsense. At first, I was one of those people who found it comical and didn’t know if it had any lasting value but viewing after viewing, I’ve realized that VAMPIRE’S KISS is smart and bold. VAMPIRE’S KISS could not have been made in 2015 for various reasons but one being is that they just don’t make films like this anymore. And after viewing it again tonight with the commentary track featuring Nic Cage and director, Robert Bierman, it widened my understanding and appreciation. I was already the guy to defend this film but knowing how “we don’t give a fuck” these guys were about VAMPIRE’S KISS, I fell in love all over again.

This month Scream Factory put out a blu ray double feature of VAMPIRE’S KISS and HIGH SPIRITS. Now, VAMPIRE’S KISS has been released twice on DVD. The first time it was a standalone MGM release and the second was a double feature with ONCE BITTEN. Now, the problem with the double feature was MGM took out the commentary track that Cage and Bierman did in, I think, 1999, for the first DVD release. That DVD, which I also own, is OOP. So I was ecstatic to learn that Scream Factory was getting that commentary for their blu ray release. I never listened to the commentary before (and I don’t know why), so tonight I decided to do so.

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Here are some interesting facts I learned about VAMPIRE’S KISS from the commentary. I didn’t include the cockroach-eating only because that is the most widely discussed gag in the film, so, yeah.

  1.  Jedd Nelson was set do play the part of Peter Lowe after Cage has turned down the part because of pressure from agents. Cage had just finished MOONSTRUCK and his agents deemed it unwise to do a film this weird right after. After a week, Cage called Bierman back and wanted the part. Nelson was booted.

  2. Cage considers the character of Peter Lowe to be his favorite performance.

  3. Cage and Bierman believe that people would’ve responded better to the film at the end of the 90s. They felt the timing was wrong and this expressionistic film was just over everyone’s heads.

  4. Kasi Lemmons, who is the girl in the beginning and who Peter abandons throughout the film, is now a director.

  5. In the apartment when the bat flies around, Cage insisted on a live bat and fought with Bierman about it. Cage claimed this was still his early method acting days and was particular. They ended up going with the robotic bat, which was made by the STAR WARS people, and Cage complied.

  6. Bierman confesses that he isn’t even sure what the film is entirely about and that he has read many interpretations in order to piece it together. Cage knows that it is purely a film about loneliness in one of the biggest and most populated cities in the world.

  7. The first restaurant scene, where Cage and Jennifer Beals first meet, had a dead body in it right before they started filming.

  8. Jennifer Beals was brought in last minute because the first actress dropped out. The unnamed actress left because her husband didn’t want her to be in bed with Nicolas Cage.

  9. When Peter is whistling in his apartment, that’s a Stravinsky song and it was not in public domain. Cage thought it was but it ended up costing the filmmakers more than they thought it would. Bierman said it was their most expensive part of post-production.

  10. When Peter says, “AM I GETTING TROUGH TO YOU” and points, it was influenced by an acting teacher Cage had in high school.

  11. The waiter in the diner is Joseph Minion, the writer of the film.

  12. Cage stated that Peter’s mannerisms were influenced by Marlon Brando performance in 1967’s REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE.

  13. While shooting, the cast stayed in hotel room. Cage brought his infamous cat Louis with him who ended up destroying the room.

  14. Cage was paid $40,000 dollars for his role. That was pretty low considering how popular he was getting and what other films were being offered to him. With that $40,000 he bought his first sports car, a corvette. At the time of recording of the commentary, Cage says he still owns it. I don’t know if he sold it off when he went through that financial crisis or not, but I would like to think it’s still in one of his garages somewhere.

  15. Bierman is fascinated with Franz Kafka’s THE TRIAL which is partly what Ava’s task mirrors. In Peter’s office, if you look hard enough, you’ll see a photo of Kafka.

  16. The scene in which Peter shouts “I’M A VAMPIRE! I’M A VAMPIRE! I’M A VAMPIRE” was also influenced from a life experience. He remembered a kid in his neighborhood who was a riding a bike, clutching his neck and screaming, “VAMPIRE’S ARE REAL!”

  17. Cage is apparently friends with Tom Waits!

  18. The part where Peter punches the bouncer? Cage actually punched that guy.

 

The commentary furthers proves to me that Cage loves his job and is serious about his profession. Even with this film, which is off the wall, he doesn’t make it out to be a joke. Every scene was tuned just so and was not treated lightly. If you haven’t had a chance to watch this film like this yet, please do so. You’ll probably end up falling deeper in love with the man who has completely consumed my life.

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