Immediately after I rail the second line of adderall the bartender, a lanky, hipster barber neck tattoo, leans in and yells, “Do it in the bathroom!” He has dreamy eyes but I yell back, “You’re sweet. Maybe later!” I give him a wink and spin around. It’s a bar in the financial district called The Straight Line. I’ve successfully found the most Wall Street white guy bar in Los Angeles in order to prep for my review of Vampires Kiss. I brought a baggie of crushed up adderall, some amyl nitrate, three condoms, paper clips and fake vampire teeth. I’m wearing some semblance of a suit that I could put together from Goodwill (The Kill Pretty budget leaves something to be desired.) I look like an extra in a bad Wolf of Wall Street sequel. I’m doing research, real journalism. Anything to rationalize my new found adderall habit.
In 1988 Nicolas Cage made my favorite vampire movie of all time, Vampires Kiss. Unlike every other vampire movie but like every Nicolas Cage movie, Vampires Kiss’s best part isn’t the vampires. It’s Nicolas Cage’s crazy ass. Cage’s character Peter is a white collar literary agent who is trying his best to appear smart and rich. He puts on a very bizarre accent through the whole movie that makes his charter so fucking funny.
Peter (Cage) sleeps with woman after woman with no rush or sense of life inside him at all. One day his is bitten by a vampire woman and is overtaken by the idea that he is turning into a vampire himself, despite no proof of this. He slowly goes insane, wearing fake vampire teeth and hiding from the sunlight. It truly is Cage’s best work.
The adderall is coursing through my veins and I know I only have a short window of bold weirdness before it wears off. This is why you keep doing bumps. The vampire teeth feel awkward in my mouth but the girl I’m dancing with hasn’t noticed yet. She’s a brunette with glasses, overworked and underpaid. I can see it in how she dances. This is her one night off. She grabs my hand and runs me back to the bar. She orders us two dirty martini’s (Isn’t that gin? Ew). She turns and hands me a drink and asks, “So where are you from?” I try and say, “San Francisco” but my vampire teeth immediately shoot out of my mouth and land *plop* right in her drink. She’s stunned. Silent. Suddenly I’m the monster? Her face tries to cover so many emotions at once. She switches our drinks, leans in and says, “talk to him”. She points at the bartender. I lean over the bar and the neck tattoo says, “That will be thirty two dollars.” I turn back and the brunette is gone.
Typical. Most vampires are pretty stingy when it comes to humans. She probably morphed into a bat and got the hell out. I see my face from across the bar and realize my eyeshadow is running. Maybe that’s why she left. I pay the man and sulk off into a corner. I am the shadows, I am the darkness, I am the bat man!
Vampires Kiss was written by Joseph Minion who also wrote After Hours and Motorama. Three classic movies under this guys belt and you can feel the style bleeding through. It’s weird, it’s gritty and it has a great dark humor. Unfortunately the director, Robert Bierman, didn’t really do anything else of interest after Vampires Kiss but one classic is better than most directors ever get so you gotta give it up. Yes, it was a commercial flop when it came out but the resurgence of fans over time proves this movie is no flop. Vampires Kiss has a magic to it. There’s no denying that.
I spend the rest of the night in a dark corner of the bar practicing my shrieking bat sounds, hoping to attract a freaky goth type. No dice. I think about the people going to see Vampires Kiss in 1988. What did they miss that I saw? Was it the overacting that threw them off? The lack of a lovable main character? The confusion over his true vampire self? These things never bothered me. It was actually the things that made me love the movie. The mystery, the unrealness, it feels like my life. I feel at home in the dark wondering if the movie made me act this way or the drugs.
Nicholas Cage ate a real live cockroach for Vampires Kiss. He went all the way for his performance and I would say it may be one of the greatest performances in movie history. The least I could do was commit to the night. I put my vampire teeth back in and leave the bar. I pull my cape out of a nearby trash can and spend the rest of the night flying around, swooping down on unsuspecting pedestrians looking for a good neck to bite. Either I’d draw blood tonight or the adderall will wear off. Either way I think Nicholas Cage would be proud of me.