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Nicolas Cage And The Freedom of Genre, Terminator, Turbo Kid, And More
The Bite #151

Nicolas Cage And The Freedom of Genre, Terminator, Turbo Kid, And More

March 09, 2021

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Nicolas Cage And The Freedom of Genre

By Rob Hunter

Nicolas Cage is both a great actor and a walking meme-machine, and while the former should never be forgotten it’s safe to say that his latest film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, exists because of the latter. Cage stars as Nicolas Cage, an actor unable to turn down a paid gig, who finds trouble when a superfan turns out to be a violent drug lord. With his family’s life on the line, Cage “becomes” various characters from his filmography in order to save the day.

We’re expecting action heroes like Stanley Goodspeed (The Rock) and Cameron Poe (Con Air), but we’re also hoping he revisits some of the odd performances of his earlier films. Arguably, his first foray into horror, 1988’s Vampire’s Kiss, was what allowed him to cut loose.

Peter (Cage) believes a bite from a one-night stand has turned him into a vampire. He can’t see his reflection, fears the sun, and thinks he can only be killed with a wooden stake. While the heart of the film is a black comedy about depression and isolation, Peter’s attacks on women are frighteningly violent. Cage’s performance is a garden of delights as he moves from channeling Max Schreck to loudly reciting the alphabet.

The Washington Post called it “scorched-earth acting,” but to the rest of us? Vampire’s Kiss is the debut of the actor going “full Cage.”

Some of his forays into horror either didn’t call for it (Pay the Ghost) or failed to capitalize on it (Primal), but that unpredictably entertaining persona returns more often than not in other genre efforts. 1973’s The Wicker Man has been a cult hit for decades but mention it these days and many people’s first thought is Cage screaming about bees in the 2006 remake.

One of Marvel’s too few film forays into the realm of horror, Ghost Rider sees Cage play a man whose deal with the devil leaves him a transformed figure with a flaming skull for a head. Would Marvel sign off on an appearance elsewhere? Probably not, but what about his other Hell-based slice of action/horror, Drive Angry? Cage’s Milton escapes from Hell in order to save his granddaughter from a killer cult. While he’s not literally aflame, there’s a burning intensity to his performance fueling the bloodshed and explosive violence throughout.

However, not all of Cage’s horror efforts offer heroic characters.. In Mom and Dad he plays a man intent on killing his own children and the image of him wielding a sledgehammer and singing “Hokey Pokey” is as unsettling as it is entertaining. Color Out of Space once again sees him as a family man but, despite some fun Cage antics, his losing battle against an alien presence would offer little help here. And no, there’s zero chance Cage’s Fu Manchu from “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” (Grindhouse) will be resurrected anytime soon.

Some of Cage’s outbursts feel at odds with the films they’re in, but most follow a similar throughline of characters pushed to their limits and beyond. To that end, his turn in 2018’s Mandy might be the ultimate horror nod from his filmography. After watching his beloved burned alive by a maniacal cult and grieving madly in his tighty whities, Red (Cage) seeks vengeance with a crossbow, an ax, a chainsaw, and epic amounts of hallucinogenic drugs.

Most of Cage’s films, horror or otherwise, go the DTV route these days, but the actor is still drawn to unique genre fare like Prisoners of the Ghostland and Willy’s Wonderland. Here’s hoping these dark and wildly entertaining characters never stop screaming his name.

Rob Hunter is the Chief Critic and Associate Editor for Film School Rejects.


Image of the Week - The Wicker Man - The Bite #151

Burn Baby Burn

With Spring around the corner and temperatures warming up, we want to appreciate one of horror’s finer hot moments. Take a look at this behind-the-scenes photo from the 1973 folk horror film The Wicker Man.



They’re back. And this time, they’re animated. A new Terminator series is in the works.

Universal Orlando is resurrecting Halloween Horror Nights this September.

A New Yorker found an entire apartment hidden by her bathroom mirror and her TikTok videos feel like they’re straight out of Candyman.

Daily Dead revisits 2016’s The Boy and its themes of loss and trauma.

Steven Spielberg and Stephen King teaming up? The fantasy/horror book The Talisman is getting a series adaptation by Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Stranger Things creators The Duffer Brothers.

Get ready to swing that gnome stick: 2015’s cult hit Turbo Kid is getting its own video game.

Ready to get some earwigs stuck in your head? iHorror looks back at 7 macabre TV theme songs.


Things We Love - Thalasso Hobbyer

From The Depths

Japanese artist Thalasso Hobbyer creates amazing sculptures of aquatic terrors dark and deep, including this Lovecraftian nightmare. Not only are their works haunting, the videos are hypnotic and captivating.


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