Although the most fond of memes and easy jokes may not believe it, at the end of the 80s Nicolas Cage was (as he should continue to be) a respected actor in the industry who was searching for her own voice in movies like ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’, ‘Arizona Baby’ and ‘Moon Spell’. It was the success of the latter that almost separated him from one of her most iconic characters, for whom she learned to look for bats, eat cockroaches and endure failure: Peter Loew in ‘Vampire Kisses’.
That yes, that no, that you never decide
When the script for ‘Vampire Kisses’ fell into the hands of Nicolas Cage, he did not think twice: it was the role i was looking for since he started his career. It was weird, it allowed him to experiment, it was perfect for him. But the moment he accepted, the director, Joseph Minion (author of the libretto for the masterpiece with the unfortunate title in Spain ‘Jo, ¡qué noche!’) left the project. And with him, Nicolas, to whom his agent insisted that after ‘Moon Spell’ this was not the way to go to become a star.
A year passed, and Cage did not stop thinking about ‘Vampire Kisses’: he accepted again, lowering his salary to only $40,000, with which he bought his first sports car. The film could already be made… if the chaos of the shooting allowed it. They shot like a guerrilla, people on the street mistook Nic for another crazy person from New York, there was friction between him and Jennifer Beals… And in the end, it was two animals that starred in the craziest anecdotes: a bat and a cockroach. Well, two cockroaches.
Royal bats of Mexico
At the beginning of the film, a bat flies over the room of Peter, Nic’s character, but to avoid cost overruns and possible infections they used a mechanical one They did bring in from the UK. The idea was simple: release the fake bat, shoot the scene and do something else. But Nicolas Cage was not willing to let such an affront pass.
Yes or yes, the actor wanted a royal bat. They could infect him with rabies, it was impossible to control them, but realism was the most important thing in a moment of obsession with the Method: without the bat there would be no opening scene. And to prove that it could be filmed, Nic sent his assistant, Osman, to Central Park, to try to catch a bat with a broom and a fridge. Obviously, it didn’t go well.
But then, Cage found another solution: he had heard that real bats could be imported from Mexico. The director stopped dead in the face of what was possibly a tremendous illegality that would skyrocket the costs of the film, which was already a very low budget. Also, if the bat were to bite the actor, i would probably die and there would be no movie to worry about. Nick calmed down. For now.
can’t walk anymore
The script remained iron until the end. All the craziness of Cage, the jumps, the screams, the eyes out of their sockets that gave rise to the most well-known meme of him (“Don’t tell me?”), everything was within the original libretto. Only one scene was changed where, on the brink of madness, he had to eat a raw egg. Both the director and the actor believed that it was going to fall short, so they opted for the most difficult yet.
“What I hate most in the world are the cockroaches. They’re my most basic fear, so let me eat a cockroach.” Heaven was opened to Robert Bierman. Did Nicolas Cage want to eat cockroaches? Nicolas Cage would have cockroaches. You may be thinking “Why didn’t they let him have cockroaches? a bat in case it infected you, but could you have eaten a cockroach?” Well, it has a trick, the cause and solution of all life’s problems: alcohol.
After the shot in which the bug was eaten, Nicolas was squeezing a glass of vodka to wash your mouth and avoid major problems. It worked so well that he didn’t put up much of a fight when Bierman asked him to do a second take and eat another cockroach. Finally, and even though he pissed off Cage (rightly so), the director kept the first take, causing the second cockroach to be swallowed for no reason. I assure you that they are giving me cramps writing.
‘Vampire kisses’ was box office poison. It was released a year and a half after filming, in full fever for ‘Batman’, and raised less than half of the two million it cost. Nicolas Cage, yes, found her destiny in life thanks to her, according to him, justifying his decision to become an actor. It remains one of his own favorite movies, and over time it has earned cult status.
It may be because of the meme, because of the cockroaches, because of the mechanical vampire, because of the magnetic and erratic presence of Nicolas Cage like a vortex of chaos that absorbs everything, but in the middle of a hangover from ‘The Unbearable Weight of a Huge Talent’ it’s worth remembering this little movie from 35 years ago in which the star that we have all learned to adore was forged.
With or without real bats.