So once again we have survived.

Vampire’s Kiss

tn_vampireskissMan, you guys were right about VAMPIRE’S KISS. You really can’t judge a DVD by its cover. I always imagined it was a typical dumb ’80s comedy, but it’s something totally different. The year was 1988, Nic Cage was in his early 20s and hungry – so hungry he ate a live roach on camera. And appparently it wasn’t in the script, it was his idea. Planned in advance though – he didn’t improvise it. That would’ve been even more impressive. But even separate of this roach-eating what this is is a grade-A example of mega-acting.

What is mega-acting? If you didn’t read the BAD LIEUTENANT PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS review you’ll need an explanation. Mega-acting is the term I decided to use instead of “overacting” when I mean it as a compliment. “Overacting” means you’ve gone too far, you have too large an amount of acting, like overfilling a glass and it spills all over the place and you have to clean it up. Mega-acting doesn’t spill because it’s a deliberate stylistic choice. It may be absurd, cartoonish, exaggerated, operatic, but not an accident. You didn’t overfill the glass. You purposely used a huge stein. Classic examples of mega-acting include Nic Cage as Castor Troy in FACE/OFF, Nick Nolte in HULK, Nic Cage in THE WICKER MAN.

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VAMPIRE’S KISS is the story of some asshole literary agency executive who decides that one of his one night stands was a vampire who infected him. But he’s actually just nuts. It’s played completely straight with some nice cinematography and a classy score, so for a while I was wondering if it was supposed to be a serious movie before Cage put his spin on it. But it gets pretty hilarious to see him interact with people the more far gone he gets. It’s not Cage fucking over a serious script, it’s just a very pure movie dedicated to the selling of this one simple joke.

One of my favorite parts is when he approaches a woman at a club while wearing his cheap plastic fangs and starts doing weird Nosferatu gestures to her. And because he’s so over-the-top and she’s so high she thinks he’s being cute and smiles at him. It goes surprisingly well until he bites her.

He’s such an absurd character even before he thinks he’s a vampire though. He talks in some weird accent between fake British and surfer dude. The DVD actually has a Nic Cage commentary track and he explains that the character is putting on an affectation that he thinks will impress people. (I guess that’s what Damon Wayans was doing in BAMBOOZLED, huh?)

There’s definitely some AMERICAN PSYCHO in here, the way he’s an egomaniacal yuppie in New York of the ’80s, treating his secretary like shit, killing people, losing track of reality, wearing nice suits, living it up. Also it’s a little like MARTIN with its vampire delusions. Both those movies rely on great lead performances just like this one does, but there might’ve been other actors who could’ve done other interesting interpretations of this characters. This one I can’t imagine existing with anybody else. It wouldn’t even come close to working.

Here’s an example. Watch how Cage goes from low key to complete insanity in one inane conversation.

The entire alphabet! And then he does what he calls on the commentary track Mick Jagger poses. That scene might’ve been kinda funny on paper, but not in the same way the final scene is. What’s in that scene cannot be written. You can’t capture Nic Cage on paper. You gotta uncage him.

Somebody needs to TWILIGHT up the cover for this like they did to NEAR DARK.
Somebody needs to TWILIGHT up the cover for this like they did to NEAR DARK.

To be frankly honest I didn’t find all of VAMPIRE’S KISS to be completely captivating. It’s more something I appreciated and respected than was consistently entertained by. But it also kind of feels like the type of thing I could end up loving if I watched it again some time down the line. It’s entirely built around Cage’s performance, but that performance is so unique it makes the whole thing pretty fascinating.

I didn’t laugh all that much while watching it, but I’m laughing just thinking about it now. It’s just so great to see him go for broke for such an extended period. At the beginning he’s just this jerk with an obnoxious accent, later he starts losing his shit and literally jumps on top of his desk while yelling at Maria Conchita Alonso, after he buys the fangs he starts contorting his face and body the way Max Schreck did in NOSFERATU, by the end he’s a filthy, mumbling homeless man, he’s running around New York screaming “I’m a vampire! I’m a vampire!” and I swear it sounds just like guys I hear outside of my apartment sometimes around 3 am. Except those guys also have keyboards. I never want to give them money because they might use it to buy batteries.

The commentary track (recorded in the late ’90s) is very informative. Cage laughs about his mental state at that age but also seems very proud of what he was trying to do. In one scene where he tries to commit suicide but the gun doesn’t work (it’s filled with blanks – just like in CRASH!) he lets out a cry that on the commentary he explains was “boo hoo.” He says he was trying to see if he could get away with actually saying “boo hoo,” and the answer was yes, he could.

After doing movies like NATIONAL TREASURE one through two it’s easy to forget about Cage’s genius and just think of him as another Hollywood superstar making dumb movies. But most Hollywood superstars, even the good ones, would never think it was a worthwhile goal to try to sneak the phrase “boo hoo” into a crying scene. In fact, they wouldn’t even think it was a bad idea because they would never think of that idea at all. I think if you consider that attitude, then consider the magic that Cage pulled off more recently in BAD LIEUTENANT, you have there a strong argument that he knew exactly what he was doing in THE WICKER MAN. He’s not oblivious. He’s just mega.

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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, December 18th, 2009 at 1:46 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

90 Responses to “Vampire’s Kiss”

  1. holy shit, I vaguely remember seeing parts of this movie fucking forever ago, thanks for reminding me of this one Vern! this is going straight to the Netflix queue

    MEGA-ACTING!

  2. well I head onto Netflix and find that THIS ISN’T AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX! WHAT THE FUCK?

  3. What kind of a world do we live in where the Vampire’s Kiss DVD can be discontinued by the manufacturer? Is no one striving for excellence anymore? Griff, you’d better go on Amazon and buy this shit used for $6.37 before this review causes a run on the market.

  4. Netflix indeed has failed us all…..

  5. You guys need to see the clip from Kick-Ass that’s online now where he acts like he’s Mister Rogers but instead of talking about feelings and hanging out with puppets, he’s shooting his daughter in the chest. Then talking her into doing it a again.

  6. I wouldn’t call that scene from Kick-Ass “Mega-Acting” though. (In fact, I expect the girl does all the Mega-Acting in that film.)

    Meanwhile… ah… my week is complete. I remembered Nick Cage’s name, and Vern posted his Vampire’s Kiss review. Also, I possibly inspired the Nick Nolte comparison at the beginning of the review. Best week ever! {g}

  7. Meanwhile 2 (port of electric etc.): which un-Caged Mega-Acting films has Vern not reviewed yet now? I remember there being a list when the “Vampire’s Kiss” was first broached. Thoughts? Anyone want to go back and research that?

  8. I remember him doing quite a bit of mega-acting in Kiss of Death, though off the top of my head the only detail of his performance that I can recall is him benchpressing strippers.

    That counts, right?

  9. Sabreman: I don’t think Vern has formally reviewed WILD AT HEART, though I seem to remember him mentioning that he didn’t like it in one of the aicn talkbacks. Not sure if he ever reviewed RAISING ARIZONA either.

    I don’t know if either film demonstrates Mega-acting, though. WILD AT HEART starts out with some great, violent Mega-moments, but later in the film our Oscar winner and poor crazy bastard has to perform alongside Seasoned Pro Willem Dafoe. That’s like holding a candle up to the sun.

    And I find that the cast of RAISING ARIZONA works so well together, and at such a heightened comedic pitch, that it’s difficult to seperate the performances.

    And in both cases he’s working with directors capable of clearly recognizable stylistic flourishes. Lynch and
    the Coens might even be considered Mega-directors.

  10. And by “Mega-director” I mean that, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the TWIN PEAKS and HUDSUCKER heyday, you could rely on Lynch and the Coens to work with a huge stein.

  11. I can’t believe none of you guys are mentioning DEADFALL.
    That is the top of Cage Mountain. I watch the Cage scenes in Deadfall is in like a moment of zen or how a boxer listens to a song to pump him up before a fight.

  12. Ummmmm, I suddenly decided I must see this film.

  13. wow. i have to be honest, despite considering myself something of a student of the early, crazy nicholas cage, i always avoided this movie because i heard so often that it was pure crap (live cockroach eating notwithstanding). but this review makes it sound right up my alley.

    vern, if you found this to be somewhat worthwhile, though, i strongly urge you to take a look at PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED. i discussed it in another thread (probably the BLPOCNO one), but his performance in that movie rally elevates what would otherwise be an intriguingly awful film.

    while PEGGY SUE is and will probably always be my favorite of his, he is still worth a watch in VALLEY GIRL and he’s pretty damn great in RAISING ARIZONA.

    i was actually really surprised to see VAMPIRE’S KISS came out in ’88. i always thought it was older. just a year later in ’89, either i’m going crazy or wasn’t he nominated for a fucking oscar for MOONSTRUCK? or did i just make that up?

  14. I saw a documentary about the making of ‘Wild at Heart’ where Cage explains the interview process. Apparently most of the time was spent with Cage and Lynch discussing the best way to shave a mouse.

  15. Someone please refresh my memory: is RED ROCK WEST worth revisiting? I don’t remember much beyond Hopper’s performance.

  16. And? What was the consensus? Should you drug it first or what?

  17. I agree with Wolfgang that DEADFALL is the pinnacle of Cage’s mega-acting. At least among the ones I’ve seen. The movie itself I wouldn’t call great, but I consider it a must see for any serious student of mega-acting.

    And I definitely agree that he knew what he was doing in THE WICKER MAN. In his own words: “It amazes me how many times I saw people use the phrase ‘unintentional comedy’ when talking about that movie. For god’s sake, I kick LeeLee Sobieski in the throat while wearing a bear suit. How unintentional can the comedy be?”
    http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/2008-12-6-motion-captured/posts/2009-3-9-the-motion-captured-set-visit-kick-ass-the-action-unit-and-crushing-a-car

    It’s weird to me that people seem to decide he is a bad actor when it seems quite obvious that he makes deliberate choices to act this way. Maybe because he also does more toned-down, serious stuff they think he just accidentally acts at a mega level the entire duration of certain film shoots? “Whoops, I didn’t realize I’d been acting all operatic for months on end. That’s my mistake.”

  18. Virgin Gary – Cage’s MOONSTRUCK nomination was for the Golden Globes in 1987, the same year he was snubbed for RASIING ARIZONA. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe for HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, which confirms any suspicions that the Golden Globe people are insane.

    More sigificantly, his performance in VAMPIRE’S KISS won a Festival de Cine de Sitges Award for Best Actor. He shared this award with Michael Gambon for THE COOK, THE THEIF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER, which I’m sure you remember is a powerhouse of a performance (to put it mildly). So Young Cage did well for himself, at least among the Cine de Sitges folk.

  19. The consensus was that it’s nice to stroke a shaved mouse.

  20. Have you noticed that Cage has all these vigilante movies coming out? He’s got KICK-ASS (a superhero movie where the heroes are just people with sticks and swords who bleed a lot), The Hungry Rabbit Jumps (a man recruits a vigilante group to get revenge for his assaulted wife [alternate title: PUT THE BUNNY BACK IN THE BOX]), and DRIVE ANGRY (a vengeful father chases the men who killed who killed his daughter and, one hopes, catches them). Perhaps getting screwed over by his manager has put Cage in a wrathful kind of mood.

  21. In addition to his awesome mega-acting, I’m glad you also note the other great thing about him, what I generally refer to as the Nic Cage Moments that he often puts in his films. In this case the “boo hoo” thing and the Mick Jagger poses. Other examples would be the jellybean drinking and the Carpenters obsession in GHOST RIDER. Or the electric shaver in BAD LIEUTENANT. Those weird little moments in his films where you just know he added them himself because there is no way any scriptwriter is Nicolas Cage enough to think up these things.

  22. The snakeskin jacket in WILD AT HEART was another Cage addition.

  23. From now on I’m gonna stop refering to it as “mega acting” and instead call it Acting Un-Caged!

  24. And in the other thread. Did we discuss whether or not Klaus Kinski qualified as Un-Caged?

  25. I also resent it when people call him a bad actor or an overactor. For the most part he plays maniacs. How do you play a subtle maniac? How would Lawrence Olivier wear a bear suit while drop kicking Lee-Lee Sobieski? What would be an understated way of playing a flaming skeleton? I just don’t get it. Cage always gives the performance that’s right for the movie.

    And yeah, Deadfall is not a good movie.
    But it does contain the pure essence of Cage.

  26. Kinski was Un-Caged when Cage was just a twinkle in some Coppola’s eye. Allow me to bring up that seen in AGUIRRE where he smacks one of his soldiers in the helmet with a sword. Real sword, real helmet. He could have killed the guy, who still has a scar from Kinski’s mega-acting.

  27. Yes, and the amazon indians asked Werner Herzog whether it would help if they killed Kinski. It’s in My Best Fiend. A masterclass on mega acting.

  28. Vern. We’re all having fun with this thread, but this is serious. This concept of Mega-acting is the most imporant theory of film which I’ve heard in a good long time. It’s funny but its also kind of a unique and useful way of thinking about performance. I had thought “Overacting” was a synonym, but as you point out they’re not the same at all.

    You need to seriously consider the details of this theory, develope it, and make it your next book project. “An Outlaw Critic’s guide to the wonderful world of MEGA ACTING!!!!!” You could do a chapter each on some of the the trailblazing mega-actors (you know, Tim Cury, Willem Dafoe, Gary Oldman, Charlton Heston) so we can chart its developement and end with Nic Cage, the king of all mega-acting.

  29. A while ago I started to wonder what movies Kinski would do now, if he would still be alive. I’m sure Tarantino would have tried to get him for Basterds, though I got no idea if he would have done it. He would probably be stuck by now in hommage-paying-indie-filmmaker-hell.

  30. Is it just me or did Ben Stiller totally rip off his Zoolander accent from Vampire’s Kiss?

  31. “You need to seriously consider the details of this theory, develope it, and make it your next book project. “An Outlaw Critic’s guide to the wonderful world of MEGA ACTING!!!!!” You could do a chapter each on some of the the trailblazing mega-actors (you know, Tim Cury, Willem Dafoe, Gary Oldman, Charlton Heston) so we can chart its developement and end with Nic Cage, the king of all mega-acting.”

    seconded

    i would pre0order that shit even

  32. That should read “scene” in my last post.

    For some reason when I post at work the text runs past the right-hand side border of the text box so I can’t even see what I’m typing half the time. :(

    Zeez: I think that offer from the natives was during the filming of Fitzcarraldo, in fact that scene where they’re all on the boat surrounding him was filmed shortly after the murder offer, unbeknownst to Kinski. Which explains why the scene is so tense.

    Speaking of which, Herzog is probably one of the touchstones of Mega-Directing…

  33. MATCHSTICK MEN has some great Cage-y moments; casting him as an OCD / panic-attack sufferer was a brilliant idea. I’m not sure why there isn’t more love for that movie in general; I’m always a little sad to see the DVD in those $2.99 overstock bins.

    Also, Crispin Glover’s cameo in WILD AT HEART is some highly concentrated mega-acting. I only remember him having one line, but he gives it everything he’s got.

  34. Yes, I’m hoping Cage will come completely uncaged in DRIVE ANGRY. The director on that one is Patrick Lussier, who’s not that great, but I at least had fun with his last one, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D. DRIVE ANGRY is about Cage chasing after the people who killed his daughter and kidnapped his baby granddaughter. Not only that, but he has to first break out of prison and steal a badass car before he can chase them. And they are a satanic cult. And there’s also a serial killer after him. And it’s from the writer of JASON X. And it’s in 3-D. I think we can all agree that this will be worth checking out.

  35. On one hand, I have never yet heard anyone describe _Ghost Rider_ in terms that would imply Un-Caged Acting. On the other hand, while I would pay good money to see that, I can’t say it would be very true to the character either. (Even Johnny Blaze isn’t that un-Caged, though I’ve heard Nic gives him a few little idiosyncrasies.)

    I suppose the vigilante movie run will continue with Ghost Rider 2 (or the reboot or whatever it is, currently in pre-production. Or pre-pre-production.)

  36. Matt: Glover gets to do some great creepy physical comedy in WILD AT HEART involving cockroaches in his pants. You know you’ve accomplished something when your brief cutaway scene in a film is what people tend to remember most clearly. And his work in CHARLIE’S ANGELS shows that Glover is adept at the physical aspect of Mega-acting.

    If you’re interested, there is a bit more Glover in the deleted scenes from WILD AT HEART that turned up on Lynch’s Lime Green Box set. Much of what they cut from that film was pretty good.

  37. Meanwhile: an exercise.

    Nolte. Cage. Defoe. Whoever else. Mega-Actors.

    Put them together. Give us a story.

  38. Vern:

    1. You must see Deadfall. “Hi-fuckin-Ya!”

    2. You must write a book dedicating to Mega-Acting.

    3. Another candidate for Mega-Acting: Bill Paxton in The Dark Backward, Near Dark, Aliens, and True Lies.

  39. Holy shit, I had no idea that DRIVE ANGRY had that much mega potential. It just became my newest most anticipated release.

  40. Ooh great, another one to look for…

  41. Here are some scenes from VK, since it’s not available on DVD. The “boo-hoo” moment is around 8:12. Cockroach scene is in there, too. You can tell he didn’t swallow, the big chicken.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfcJUl39iiA

    DEADFALL!!!! YES!!!! It must be seen to be believed. I first saw it when someone suggested it to me as an actual good movie worth watching. I never trusted this guy’s opinion again, but I owe him forever. You really ought to review it, Vern. Even without Cage, it would be a purple, overheated mess of a noir, like some awful student film with professional actors. But Nic takes it into the stratosphere of bad movies with his performance. (I feel bad for poor Michael Beihn, though. He seems to be doing his best to play it straight. He got so few leading roles, and one of them was this thing.)

    I have several theories about DEADFALL. The first is that Cage agreed to be in his brother’s movie as a favor, but only if he were allowed to do ANYTHING he wanted to, with no direction whatsoever. The second is that he agreed to do it without reading the script, realized too late that it was a dog, and decided to sabotage it with his performance. The third is that he agreed,etc., realized it was a dog, and decided to SAVE it with his mega-acting. And so he did. (These are “either/or” theories, not “stacked-on-top-of-each-other” theories.)

    Or maybe he was just on drugs. In any case, this is far more thinking about DEADFALL than any human should ever do.

    Has anyone mentioned Shatner in IMPULSE yet? IMPULSE is to Bill what DEADFALL is to Nic: a film in which an already over-the-top actor is untethered and allowed to go MEGA-mega. Remember “KHAAAAAAAAN!”? The entire film is like that.

  42. CAGEOLOGY by Vern

    Coming Soon!

  43. Another quality Mega-Acting performance: Joe Pilato as Captain Rhodes in Day of the Dead

  44. caruso_stalker217

    December 18th, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    “I’M RUNNIN’ THIS MONKEY FARM NOW, FRANKENSTEIN! AND I WANNA KNOW… WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE DOIN’ WITH MY TIME! Cuz if we’re just jerkin’ off here, I’M GONNA HAVE MY MEN
    BLOW THE PISS OUT OF THOSE PRECIOUS SPECIMENS OF YOURS AND WE’RE GONNA GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE AND LEAVE YOU AND YOUR HIGHFALUTIN’ ASSHOLE FRIENDS TO ROT IN THIS STINKIN’ SEWER… IS THAT FOOOOD ENOUGH FOR YA?”

    Mega-acting indeed.

  45. holy shit. i just watched the clips that frankbooth linked to above. i feel really bad for not watching VAMPIRE’S KISS back all those years ago when i first began to be fascinated by cage.

    frankbooth’s theories about DEADFALL sound very similar to how i view his performance in PEGGY SUE.

    i also found the cage quote above about THE WICKER MAN not being an UNintentional comedy very encouraging. when i first started to get interested in cage, it was right around the time in the mid-90’s when he started to do tons of crap. until a certain point in his career, you knew that no matter what you thought of a particular movie he was in you would at least get a fully committed performance from cage, and there would be at least several un-caged moments that only he could create. but ever since i guess around LEAVING LAS VEGAS he has started acting in so many boring movies and often actually being boring in them (which i had previously thought impossible). and i remember reading and seeing various interviews with him where sometimes it seemed like he knew exactly what he was doing and other times he seemed just kind of nuts and clueless. i remember an interview with him during promotion for that “remake” of WINGS OF DESIRE with meg ryan (CITY OF ANGELS? i am assuming it is one of his boring pieces of shit, i have not ever nor will i ever watch it) where he said something along the lines of, “you know, a lot of people think i’m weird. but i don’t think i’m weird. maybe they’re the ones who are weird.” combined with the way he said it, it seemed almost like he was not all there. so that quote about THE WICKER MAN (coupled with all his recent exciting performances) gives one hope.

    after having mentioned HONEYMOON IN VEGAS in a previous thread, i found it on VHS for 50 cents and bought it. it was pretty much how i remembered it. it’s a harmless and inoffensive mainstream comedy that has some decent moments, but it is waaay more enjoyable than it would be if it starred anyone other than nicholas cage. like i said in the previous thread, it’s almost like his entire method of comedic acting in that movie is the scream almost all his lines at the top of his lungs. and it fucking works! it’s hilarious.

    i haven’t seen MOONSTRUCK since it came out (i was a kid and this was before i started thinking more deeply about cage), but since then i remember seeing an interview with him where he said he based his performance in that movie on the vampire from murnau’s NOSFERATU: DAS WAMPYR! isn’t that amazing? so i definitely want to check that one out again.

    he also has lots of good little cage twists in THE ROCK, like the way he delivers certaing lines (“so whyd on’t we just cut the chit-chat ASSHOLE!” – vintage cage). this was either just before or just after LEAVING LAS VEGAS, but in any case, it was just before he started to be boring in lots of boring movies like THE FAMILY MAN and crap like that. i actually think he gives a fine but boring by cage standards performace in LEAVING LAS VEGAS. in FACE/OFF he is actually not as fun as he could be because pretty early in the movie he switches from playing the maniac castor troy to playing the straight-laced travolta character. the bit where he first wakes up after having his face removed and calls his brother (“they took… i… they… oh my god… my face… they took… my face… but it’s cool!”) is classic cage, and he does have a couple good moments after the switch, like when he is beating up the guy in prison and is trying to look like he is laughing while crying at the same time.

    i realized while typing all of this that it does almost no good to quote a nicholas cage line. you have to see and hear it to at all get how great it is.

  46. shit, i’ve been spelling his name wrong this whole time. i’ll just call him nic cage from now on, too. also, please forgive all my typos. i have the same problem as Gwai Lo with not being able to see half my comments window when i type. it’s probably cuz i am using an old browser.

    anyway, i think crispin glover may be someone who gives a mega-acting performance in every single movie he is in (unlike nic cage, who tones it down sometimes). he is great in RIVER’S EDGE, but check out how intense he is even in BACK TO THE FUTURE and of course CHARLIE’S ANGELS. but i feel like cage seems to have more of an idea of how funny he is.

    and what about daniel day lewis? his performances are always so intense to the degree that every vein in his body and face looks like it is about to burst, and it kind of makes me laugh. but in a good way? i mean, i enjoy watching daniel day lewis act, but it’s definitely not a naturalistic style.

    but when i think about all the potential mega-actors that we have all mentioned in this thread (and the BL: PoCNO one), it makes me realize more and more how unique nic cage just might be and how lucky we all just might be to have him! no-one does the mega-acting quite like he does.

  47. This phrase keeps coming up in our Cage-related threads: “it is way more enjoyable than it would be if it starred anyone other than Nicholas Cage.”

    It begs the question: what poor or mediocre films that do NOT star Cage would be most improved if we could go back in time and give Cage the lead role?

  48. Daniel Day-Lewis is an over-actor, not a mega-actor. At least in some of his last few roles that have gotten attention, like GANGS OF NEW YORK and THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

  49. Maybe all these financial problems will straighten Cage out, and he’ll realize it’s not all about owning castles and dinosaur skulls but rather about the subtle nuance of mega-acting and making your port of call New Orleans. Could a Cage renaissance be approaching? Will we look back on the Bangkok Dangerous days like a fever dream?

  50. Jareth:

    This is an interesting question you pose. I think some movies are beyond saving, Cage or not. THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL remake comes to mind. That is not a film that would give Cage much room to let loose. Unless he used his Keanu voice from VAMPIRE’S KISS. That might add something.

    Maybe something like 16 BLOCKS, which was just so mediocre. Imagine a drunken burned out Cage in place of a drunken burned out Willis. Or give Cage a chance to nab Oscar #2 for THE PIANIST. Redeem that piece of shit SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE by casting Cage as the Bard. Inject some life into THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON with Cage in the title role. A Cage who ages in reverse. Magic. And as much as I enjoy I AM LEGEND, I would gladly sacrifice Will Smith’s best performance to date for an opportunity to witness a full-on post-apocalyptic Cage meltdown. “W-W-What the hell are you doing out here, Fred? Fred? What… in the name of Zeus’ BUTTHOLE are you DOING out here, Fred?! WHAGHT’REYOUDOINGOUTHEREFRED!?!”

  51. Speaking of Crispin Glover mega-acting, check out his dance scene in Friday the 13th Part IV. If I were you, I would see if it’s on YouTube because I can’t really recommend watching the entire movie.

  52. yeah i actually agree day lewis is not a mega-actor. i was just throwing that out there because his performances are usually so over-the-top they make me laugh, which is something that mega-actors do, but i guess they do it for the right reasons.

  53. Jon Voight stepped broadly into mega-acting in Anaconda.

    And, just a thought, might I suggest Shatner’s Kirk and Adam West’s Batman as the progenitors of mega-acting? I really wanna see a book about this, Vern.

  54. i love jon voight in ANACONDA! i’m not sure if it’s really mega-acting (TM), but it’s definitely a fun over-the-top performancewith a silly accent. in fact, i really like that underrated movie. it’s a good, deliberate B-movie, with a pretty cool cast (voight, eric stoltz, jennifer lopez at her hottest IMO, owen wilson, ice cube, danny fucking trejo, and some over-the-top effete british douchebag).

  55. Matthew Lilliard has some great mega-acting. It looks like he gulped a bottle of amphetamines before every take on the set of 13 GHOSTS. Predictably, he’s the only memorable thing about that bore.

  56. I think Matthew Lillard is just overacting. And not even very entertaining. And also he does the same things in every movie, doesn’t matter if it’s Scream, Wing Commander, Scooby Doo or Dungeon Siege.

  57. caruso_stalker217

    December 19th, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I thought Matthew Lillard was great in DUNGEON SIEGE, a film I regret to admit having seen. He had to be fucking drunk off his ass during that shoot.

    I also saw him in an episode of “Law & Order: SVU” where I think he was playing a bit of a simpleton with a mustache. I don’t know if he was giving a rare good performance or one of his usual shitty ones. The result was gold, though.

  58. Other Mega-Acting Moments of Greatness:

    Gary Oldman in The Professional
    Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys
    Jack Nicholson in The Shining
    Christopher Walken in just about everything
    Marlon Brando (the old guard of Mega-Acting) in The Island of Dr. Moreau

  59. caruso_stalker: I might have actually bothered to watch BENJAMIN BUTTON if Nic Cage starred in it, rather than Pitt. I don’t dislike Pitt, but there’s something very predictable about his performances. Cage, on the other hand, always surprises me.

    Did Pitt Mega-act in 12 MONKEYS? I remember it as a more restrained performance than FIGHT CLUB. Memory might be failing me here.

    One other thing: if Cage Mega-acts, is there a word to describe the minimalism that Bruce Willis has been flirting with ever since THE SIXTH SENSE? It’s almost like anti-acting.

    Maybe that’s why Pitt seems like he’s Mega-acting in 12 MONKEYS – he’s juxtaposed with the dark void of Willis’ performance.

  60. Bruce doesn’t underact too much in 12 Monkeys. There are plenty of parts where he’s drooling and spitting and yelling and muttering to himself.

  61. I should really watch 12 MONKEYS again. I have fond memories of it but haven’t seen it in the theaters. Hope it holds up.

    Speaking of drooling, spitting and yelling: from the clip I saw on Letterman last night, Spiderman seems to excel at all three in that drama BROTHERS.

  62. That should be “haven’t seen it since it was in the theaters.”

  63. 12 MONKEYS holds up pretty well. Pitt looks like he’s overacting, but that’s only because he’s such a big star now… back when MONKEYS came out he was basically a nobody and his role here didn’t seem too outrageous.

  64. I can’t believe I forgot about Eric Roberts in The Pope of Greenwich Village. “CHAW-lie. DEY took my THUMB!” MEGA-MEGA-Acting

  65. Vampire’s Kiss 2: Port of Call New Orleans?

  66. caruso_stalker217

    December 20th, 2009 at 1:44 am

    12 MONKEYS is a good flick with some decent mega-acting from Mr. Pitt. He’s definitely less restrained than in FIGHT CLUB. One thing that I think kinda works against 12 MONKEYS while also working for it is Terry Gilliam. Like I love the movie and everything, but then some of the Gilliam touches distance me from it a little. I’m not sure how that works.

    I actually enjoyed BENJAMIN BUTTON. It made me cry for the first time in my adult life, much to my shame. But it really takes its fucking time, so I haven’t rewatched it yet. But the thought of old man/teenage Cage plowing a prostitute brings a smile to my face.

  67. Pitt kinda mega-acts in 12 Monkeys with a bit of a Dennis Hopper impression/exageration.

    I think Gary Oldman in Leon: The Professional might just be the greatest case of a guy normally does not mega-act choosing to mega-act.

  68. Another Gary Oldman Mega-Acting performance: Drexl in True Romance. “I know I’m pretty, but I’m not as pretty as a couple of titties!”

  69. How about as whathisface in THE FIFTH ELEMENT?

  70. Don’t forget Oldman in Bram Stokers Dracula. That part where he stabs the cross while screaming in anger and grief is magic. Anthony Hopkins was guilty of some mega-acting in that as well.

  71. I guess you guys are right. Oldman does mega-act a little more often than I thought. Dracula is a weird one because Oldman is mega-acting opposite Keanu Reeves’s overacting.

    I’m not sure if I would call his performance in Fifth Element mega-acting. The accent is mildly corny, but I he never really lets it rip in that movie.

    What do you guys think of Al Pacino? Actor turned mega-actor? I’m thinking of stuff like Devil’s Advocate here.

  72. Pacino I’d have to think about. I’d say he goes back and forth between mega and over-actor. He’s definitely mega-acting in Devil’s Advocate. How about James Woods?? He almost always mega-acts. Specifically Another Day in Paradise and Any Given Sunday(which also features Pacino mega-acting).

  73. I’d like to propose Charlton Heston as a first-rate mega-actor. Obviously you know one of the things I’m thinking of, but also consider some great flip-outs from THE AGONY AND THE ECSTACY (“Yes, and that is how I shall paint him!! Nude!!!”) and probably SOYLENT GREEN counts too.

  74. Yep Pacino is definitely a Mega-Actor. Four words: Scent of a Woman. HOOOO HAAAAAA!

  75. Drive Angry.

    Must see now.

  76. James Woods does some excellent mega-acting in The Specialist, a movie that desperately needs the extra juice. The difference between mega-acting and overacting is evident when you see Rod Serling attempting a Ricky Ricardo accent in that film.

  77. How about Ben Foster in Alpha Dog, I think it qualifies – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOuAkiHj9_s

  78. I’ve been lobbying for a Cage-ized remake of Planet of The Apes for a while now. I don’t think anybody is really attached to the Tim Burton version and it’s been awhile. I think we would all really go for Cage spazzing out around monkeys.

    I’m not sure which arthouse director he’d get for this, maybe Catherine Breillat is ready to make her Hollywood debut and get the typical treatment of a European director who is recruited for their distinct style and then kicked out of Hollywood for making a movie using that style. One thing is for sure: she’d show Cage fucking a monkey, which is probably the only thing he could do to shock me at this point.

  79. deadfall is pure cage.
    “HI-FUCKEN-YA!”

  80. My buddy Lee Marvin Girl suggested this to me the other day: THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST starring Nic Cage.

  81. jack nicholson in the shining yes but also don’t forget his excellent mega-acting performances in one flew over the cuckoo’s nest (top 5 on my list) and also witches of eastwick.

  82. Tim Brooke Taylor

    January 2nd, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Eddie Deezen in War Games. Classic Mega-Acting.

  83. By the way, has everyone seen the crazy “nic cage as everyone” blog?

    http://niccageaseveryone.blogspot.com/

  84. a stupid and pointless little nitpick that everyone can feel free to ignore, but having just re-watched FACE/OFF yesterday, that first pic at the top of the review (in the three examples of mega-acting) is actually nic cage as sean archer as castor troy. one problem with FACE/OFF is there is far too little of nic cage simply as castor troy, in my opinion the best stuff in the movie and certainly the clearest example of mega-acting, though nic cage as sean archer as castor troy is pretty good, too. travolta alternates between good and crappy. actually, come to think of it, comparing nic cage as castor troy and john travolta as castor troy might serve as an object lesson in the differences between mega-acting (cage) and overacting (travolta).

    mr. subtlety – didn’t see your post til now, but that blog is fascinating.

  85. aint it though? I think my personal favorite is Cage on Conan (the Barbarian). Something about his copper-red sunburn and slightly smug expression just work for me.

  86. i kept thinking i found my favorite, but then i would find another one i liked at least as much, and it just keeps going and going…

  87. Just so’s everyone knows this is now on Hulu. I watched it a few days ago because of this review (thanks vern). It is amazing. I couldn’t stop laughing during the “Every other secretary has been here longer than you” scene.

    It would have been better if Peter didn’t hallucinate, though. I think if somebody who is a vampire hallucinates the hallucinations need to be INTERESTING. Imagined conversations are boring and cliche. What if, instead, Peter imagined blood dripping down the walls or hell hounds roaming new york or something?

    Another thing I didn’t like: Peter spent too much time in self-pity-mode, and he’s way more interesting in evil-mode. The climax in particular would have been way better if he was in evil-mode.

    But apart from that I really loved this!

    Although the people I saw it with HATED both the movie and Nic Cage’s performance. When Cage screamed “Why won’t someone kill me?” or something like that, somebody responded: “That’s how I feel!”

  88. Netflix > Hulu

    Vampire’s Kiss is on Netflix. Great Joy.

  89. Damn, I was hoping this was a real comment on VAMPIRE’S KISS.

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