There’s no doubt Nicolas Cage has been in some weird stuff, and after Between Worlds it looks like he’s just getting weirder and weirder. A glance ahead has him starring in Primal, a movie where a big game hunter (for zoos?) is on a shipping freighter full of deadly animals from the Amazon, and also an assassin being extradited to the United States. The assassin escapes (of course) and releases all the animals while doing so (of course). Then, I assume it’s up to Cage as a murderous Noah to get his ark back in order while killing the assassin. Cool. Color Out of Space will see Cage in a Lovecraftian cosmic horror trying to survive in a town after it’s struck by a meteorite. Also, we have Prisoners of the Ghostland, my personal most anticipated Cage flick, in which he’ll play a criminal who has to break a curse while saving a little girl who’s mysteriously disappeared. The best part is that it’s being directed by Sion Sono, one of the weirdest directors currently alive. This is going to be a peanut-butter-and-chocolate blend of strange, and I can’t wait!
No matter how you look at it, Cage isn’t pumping the breaks on the weird. In fact, I’d argue he’s ramping up. While he’s blazing this new trail, let’s take a moment and look back at ten of the grandest blasts of strangeness Nicolas Cage has brought us so far. Ranking them by weirdness would be a fool’s errand, so I went ahead and sorted them chronologically.
Between Worlds (2019)
As stated in my review, Between Worlds is like an incredibly sleazy episode of Twin Peaks. A woman who can see into a ghost world when people choke her has Nicolas Cage help her use that power to bring back her daughter. Little does she know, however, that her daughter’s soul didn’t return and is instead replaced by Cage’s dead wife–and she’s horny as hell. It only gets weirder from that point forward.
This is an incomparable work of arthouse horror and revenge thriller–it also has Nicolas Cage tripping on acid and chainsaw fighting cultists. With its otherworldly color pallet, bizarre mac-and-cheese commercial, and bathroom freakout it’s a surefire standout for Cage’s weirdness. At one point he shouts at a cenobite biker, “You ripped my shirt! You ripped my shirt!” and then he breaks that biker’s neck with a grin like a magician who just pulled a rabbit out of a hat. Beautiful.
Mom and Dad (2017)
A sudden change occurs in all the world’s parents which makes them want to murder their children as some implied instinct to preserve themselves while ousting the new generation. Cage plays the titular dad here, and he’s something to experience. He sings the hokey pokey while smashing a pool table apart with a sledgehammer, barks like a dog while chasing down his son, and has other general freakouts and bouts of animalistic insanity that work perfectly with the movie. It’s a fun enough horror/comedy with an interesting hook, but certainly a movie where the best thing about it is Cage’s performance. He brings the house down while no one else can quite keep up.
Dog Eat Dog (2016)
Cage has an introduction on the DVD release for this. In the short clip, Nicolas Cage in direct sunlight while dressed as Gothic Elvis says that this is exactly the kind of movie he wants to be making right now. After watching the movie, I have no idea what that means. Cage is upstaged by Willem Dafoe a bit who plays a loose-cannon serial killer enlisted by ringleader Cage to help kidnap a rich couple’s baby so they can hold it for ransom. Naturally, everything goes wrong. There’s plenty of rage and ultraviolence, and it ends with a sequence in which Nicolas Cage hitchhikes with an elderly couple and while doing a Humphrey Bogart impression for some reason.
Drive Angry (2011)
This is a pure inside-and-out midnight movie and should be a constant staple within anyone’s collection of films that are just plain fun. Cage plays a grandfather who escapes hell, so he can rescue his granddaughter from being sacrificed by a cult. At one point he’s on a motel bed sitting perfectly still with his leather jacket and sunglasses on while a naked woman rides him. She asks why he doesn’t take his clothes off. “I never disrobe before gunplay,” Cage says, and thus begins a shootout in which Cage gives a woman multiple orgasms while dispatching a legion of thugs.
Bad Lieutenant: Port Call of New Orleans (2009)
When Abel Ferrara was asked what he thought of this remake to Bad Lieutenant, he said, â€œI wish these [Herzog and remake people] die in Hell. I hope theyâ€™re all in the same streetcar, and it blows up.â€ Werner Herzog responded by saying that he had no idea who Abel Ferrara was and that he could go on fighting the windmills if he wanted to. So, I’d say the two are connected by something only as tenuous as a title, and both are spectacles worth experiencing.
Whether this is a sequel, a remake, or just a movie that producers brazenly slapped the Bad Lieutenant name onto, Port Call of New Orleans is just about as bizarre as a movie can come. A drug-addled Nicolas Cage is an unhinged cop who tortures a feeble old lady, has a woman give him a blowjob and then forces her boyfriend at gunpoint to watch, and demands a dead man continues to be shot because he can see his spirit breakdancing. There’s nothing like it.
Werewolf Women of the SS (2007)
Okay, so this one doesn’t count, because it’s not a real movie–which is horrible. Look at this trailer. This ought to exist. Why hasn’t this been made, yet? Why do we live in a world where we got Hobo With a Shotgun and not this? I’m not much a fan of Rob Zombie, but you don’t have Nicolas Cage named Fu Manchu (though he has more of a sinister goatee than the normal fu manchu mustache) shouting “This is my mecca!” in an internment camp run by werewolf Nazis and not follow through. That’s just rude.
Wicker Man (2006)
Yes, fine, it’s weird. Nicolas Cage in a bear suit punches a woman in the face. He body slams a girl. He shouts, “You’re all bitches” as a cult surrounds him. He does the thing with the bees. It’s created a lot of memes. It’s also the only film on this list that’s just a really crappy and bad movie that you don’t need to watch. It pisses on a classic that’s arguably weirder with its musical numbers, penis fixation, and orgies. This one’s just not good or fun in just about any way.
Kiss of Death (1995)
This thriller starring CSI: Miami‘s David Caruso might be the most normal of the bunch, but Nicolas Cage as Little Junior Brown, an asthmatic drug lord whom Caruso is indebted to, is pretty bonkers. He’s built like a brick house here, hurling people out of trucks and bench pressing strippers like it’s Tuesday at the office. His character has all sorts of strange philosophies, but we also find out that he can’t stand the taste of metal in his mouth and only used his fingers to eat when he was in prison (it’s also the reason he never got braces, he tells us for some reason). This, of course, is used against him in the climax when Caruso is pressing the barrel of a gun against his face going, “Open up. Open up and say ahh.”
Wild at Heart (1990)
It feels like cheating to put a David Lynch movie here, but you can’t escape its grimy weirdness. Once again Willem Dafoe helps carry this one over the edge in his absolutely most disgusting incarnation. Cage is a fever-dream Elvis on the run with Laura Dern as Lula Fortune after he committed a murder. Lula’s mother peruses them and eventually The Good Witch shows up to endorse the young couple’s love. Also, don’t mess with Crispin Glover when he’s making his lunch.
Vampire’s Kiss (1988)
This earliest exploration of Cage’s weirdness has also generated its fair share of memes. As a publisher who believes he’s been bitten by a vampire, Nicolas Cage runs around with fake fangs shouting that he’s a vampire, sings the most memorable version of the alphabet song, and does that “you don’t say” face we all love so much. Oh yeah, and he eats an actual cockroach. It’s great.