If you’ve ever seen a Nicolas Cage movie, you’re probably looking at this article thinking, “Listen, pal. I’ve seen my share of Cage flicks. I already know how insane they are.” Yeah, maybe you have. Maybe you’ve seen Face/Off. Maybe you’ve seen Ghost Rider. Maybe you’ve even seen the infamous The Wicker Man. But here’s the thing. If you haven’t seen Vampire’s Kiss, you haven’t truly “stepped into the Cage.”
The entire movie is ridiculous, from the title screen to the credits. Cage drifts in and out of an unrecognizable accent, furiously recites the alphabet, and flails through the streets of Manhattan yelling, "I'm a vampire!" to no one in particular. But what happened behind the scenes was even more absurd than what what you see on screen.
In short, Vampire’s Kiss is a movie about Nic Cage becoming a vampire...or something. So naturally, it called for a scene where he gets bitten by a bat. But this is Nic Cage we’re talking about, the greatest method actor of our time. He couldn’t just act like he was getting bitten by a vampire. He wanted it to look real. That’s why he insisted that he had to be bitten by an actual bat. The director had to persuade him otherwise, reminding him that it would probably cause him to, you know...die. Cage eventually agreed, reluctantly.
In case that bat story didn’t solidify Cage’s title as World’s Most Dedicated Method Actor, there is also a scene in Vampire’s Kiss where Cage was supposed to eat raw eggs for shock effect. But what is he, Sylvester Stallone? Get real. Cage instead upped the stakes and ate an actual live cockroach. Two actually. They filmed two takes. So yeah, Nicolas Cage, an Academy Award-winning actor, ate two cockroaches for movie that very few people even saw.
“How did Nicolas Cage get to be such an amazing actor?” you must be asking. Glad you asked! Practice. Lots of practice. But Cage couldn’t just run lines with other actors like a normal person. Instead, he locked himself in his hotel room with his cat Lewis, to whom he was weirdly attached. Cage wouldn’t even let room service in to clean the room. Lewis ended up wrecking the whole place.
For some reason, likely because he is batshit crazy, Nic Cage briefly walked off of Vampire’s Kiss. In that time, he was nearly replaced by Judd Nelson. Judd Nelson, the Breakfast Club guy. Speaking of casting problems, Cage’s role called for a lot of on-screen love-making scenes with the lead female character. Well, that actress’ husband was understandably grossed out by the idea of his wife having her bare nipples in Cage’s mouth so she left the movie right before it started filming.
With the exception of Nic Cage, no one involved in Vampire’s Kiss had ever made a full length movie before. None of the cast. None of the crew. Hard to believe given how many awards the film recei—oh wait. No, that actually makes perfect sense.
Remember that bat from before? The one Cage wanted to be bitten by? Well, the director wouldn’t let him do it and instead brought in an animatronic bat. But he wanted the bat to look realistic. So he hired a guy who did effects for Star Wars. Star Wars, the movie, Star Wars. That Star Wars. But it was no light saber. The bat looked awful.
Vampire’s Kiss grossed just $750 thousand at the box office. Cage made $40,000 to play the lead role. And what did 26-year-old Nicolas Cage do with a $40,000 paycheck? He spent it all on a 1967 Corvette Sting Ray. He still has the car today and refers to it as his “Vampire’s Kiss car.”
Vampire’s Kiss is set it New York, where it was filmed. With a shoestring budget, the filmmakers didn’t have the funds to hire a cast of extras so they did the next best thing: They let a stark raving Nicolas Cage loose on the streets of Manhattan. But here’s the amazing thing: New Yorkers were so jaded to crazies in the late 80s that no one even acknowledged him.
You might come away from Vampire’s Kiss thinking, “Wow, that went over my head.” Well, you’re not alone. On the movie’s DVD commentary, both Cage and the director admitted they really didn’t get what in God’s name they were trying to say with this movie or what it means.
- There is a scene where Cage completely destroys a room and all of its furniture. All of it was real. The mirrors, the plate glass table, everything. Because Cage is a serious method actor, dammit.
- In another scene, Cage had to catch a pigeon to eat. The filmmakers drugged the pigeon to slow it down but didn’t tell Cage.
- Cage wanted his character to have a pencil-thin mustache like his friend, Tom Waits.
- Cage based his faux accent on his father, a professor. No one except the director understood why the hell he used it.
- In one scene set in a bar, an actual patron had just died and the crew had to hold up shooting while the body was taken out.
- There are random mimes throughout the movie and the director had no idea why.
- Cage sent this movie to Roman Polanski and never heard anything back.