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Nicolas Cage's Most Over the Top Horror Roles

From the gory to the downright perplexing.

nicolas cage horror roles
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  • Photo Credit: Magellan Pictures

A quick scroll through social media and you’re likely to spot Nicolas Cage shouting, screaming, and effectively losing his mind. No, he hasn’t become some blue check marked influencer across Twitter and Instagram. Really what he’s become is—like most identifiable and often eccentric celebrities—a meme-able commodity. This could be due to his long tenure of notable roles in Hollywood—everything from Adaptation to The Rock, Raising Arizona to Wild at Heart. Or it might be his penchant for living his eccentricity both onscreen and off.

Related: The Scariest Movies Debuting at the SXSW Film Festival

Cage has been known to exhibit behavior that most would classify as a nervous breakdown or an anger-induced tirade when in front of the camera. These meltdowns have led to fans and the media dubbing his occasional over-acting as “Cage Rage.” What’s so funny about it is how a person can know exactly what this so-called “Rage” is without having an example in hand. It’s just that iconic. With over 100 movies and counting, Cage has built an extensive filmography in the decades since his debut as “Brad’s Bud” in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But hey, you’re reading this for the same reason I’m writing it: We want Cage at his most over-the-top insanity.

We’ve gathered seven of his truly bonkers horror movie roles (and one extra), perfect for a deep Netflix dive on a dull lockdown night.

Vampire’s Kiss

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  • Photo Credit: Magellan Pictures

Have you seen this work of art? One Harry Hanrahan performed some editing magic and created one of the most timeless YouTube videos of all time. At around five minutes in length, Cage continuously exhibits that "Cage Rage" across dozens of horror and thriller roles. During one sequence, Cage can’t seem to get past a filing cabinet snafu and proceeds to berate his assistant by screaming the alphabet. In another, he runs through the street screaming, “I’m a vampire! I’m a vampire!” These classic moments are from the 1989 vampire film, Vampire’s Kiss.

Related: 19 Vampire Movies that will Make Your Blood Run Cold

Playing the role of a power-hungry, ambitious literary agent named Peter Loew, one of the character’s central characteristics is to be every bit a narcissistic yuppie as possible. His declining mental health, coupled with his alcohol binges and a chance one-night stand with a woman named Jackie where a bat somehow flies into the window and bites him, kicks his downward spiral into gear for the viewer’s amusement. This one’s a must for the camp value alone.

Mom and Dad

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  • Photo Credit: Armory Films

A high-concept thriller from the creator of the insane Jason Statham adrenaline-fueled cult classic Crank, Mom and Dad is one of those movies you’d easily pass up when scrolling through the horror category and succumbing to analysis paralysis. Maybe it’s the relatively quiet release, or the easily forgettable title, but the thriller does have a lot of fun to offer.

Related: 13 Pandemic Horror Books to Keep You Occupied During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Technically a pandemic narrative, parents in an idyllic Anywhere USA suburban town all suddenly become rabid in their desire to murder and destroy their children. Like something snapping in their psyches, every parent becomes consumed by bloodlust… but the murderous urges are strictly for their children. It’s beyond absurd, but you bet it’s fun. Cage plays the role of a numb, porn-obsessed father with the usual job he hates and the debt that he can’t manage to shake. When his urge mounts, he raises his voice, rages, and manages to be one hell of an inventive killer. 


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  • Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

This 90s standout was made for both Cage and co-star John Travolta to demonstrate a complete identity crisis and meltdown. From the mind of John Woo, we are treated to this gem of an action flick. One is a terrorist, the other is an FBI agent. They switch identities and, literally, faces. Guess who is who! Quite the elevator pitch, but you've got to commend both actors for really committing to their roles, allowing for the crazy adrenaline-fueled narrative to build up nicely and pay out handsomely, as well. Cage exhibits more than the “Cage Rage” here, not that we ever second-guessed his acting chops. We get to witness his creepier side, delivering a few moments that really raise the bar for zany. That church sermon scene? Yup.

Related: 20 Twisted Psychological Thriller Movies That Will Mess with Your Head

Willy’s Wonderland

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  • Photo Credit: Saturn Films

This one’s new, freshly cut complete with its own thrills. The eponymously named Willy’s Wonderland is a rundown entertainment center with a dark past. Cage plays the role of a “badass”—complete with his sports car, leather jacket, shades, and day-drinking—who is stranded after he blows out a tire or two. With no other choice but to pay off his debt cleaning Willy’s Wonderland, he soon realizes that he’s a pawn in a ritualistic sacrifice. The film has more than a mere passing resemblance to the popular indie horror game series, Five Nights at Freddy’s, but with Cage playing the “badass backed into a corner,” the B-movie becomes a lot of pure fun. 

Related: What the Horror Genre Says About Survival Mentality


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  • Photo Credit: SpectreVision

Okay, time to step beyond the hilarity and explore some truly memorable films known for their creep factor and unsettling concepts. First up is Mandy. Cage plays the role of Red Miller, who lives reclusively in the mountains with his girlfriend Mandy Bloom. Miller is a logger and Mandy is a cashier by day, painter by night. Both Red and his girlfriend lead a quiet life because of past trauma, their scarred psyches tempered via a routine-oriented life. When a biker gang kidnaps Mandy because they find her beautiful and irresistible, Red picks up “the reaper,” his trusty crossbow and heads into a dire situation in order to save Mandy. You can guess where it goes next, but what’s so different about this one is how director Panos Cosmatos takes his time building both Red and Mandy into fleshed out characters before the film ramps up and goes full-gore, all-action, and here Cage demonstrates his finesse in front of the camera.

Related: Countdown to Terror: 10 Best Horror Movies of 2018


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  • Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures

Like Mandy, 8MM is disturbing and creepy for different reasons. The film does a great job of turning “the underworld” into an antagonist. Cage plays the role of an ambitious private investigator that takes on the case of authenticating an 8mm film in which a young teenage girl appears to be murdered. A snuff film, the case leads him into the depths of the porn underworld, complete with all its double-crosses and disturbing imagery. Cage plays the ambitious yet inexperienced PI extremely well, and with co-star Joaquin Phoenix playing the role of a failed musician turned porn store cashier, the film ends up being far better than maybe anyone expected. Viewer beware: It’ll leave you feeling much like Cage’s character does at the end of the case—numb and gross.

The Wicker Man

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  • Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

The worst movie ever with the best line ever. What else is there to say? Oh right, “OH, NO! NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES! AAAAAHHHHH! OH, THEY'RE IN MY EYES! MY EYES! AAAAHHHHH!”

Related: These Bewitching Folk Horror Books Will Haunt Your Dreams

National Treasure (series)

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  • Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

I’m breaking the list rule for this final offering, just because these movies are prime Nicolas Cage bliss. The premise is about as straightforward as one would expect of a Hollywood box-office piece, but what’s interesting here is how the movies essentially merge Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones and conspiracy theories about the Freemasons et. al., with Cage playing the starring role of treasure hunter Benjamin Gates, who just seemingly has an answer for every problem. He also seems to be Cage at his most… “Cagey.” He puts on a suave yet eccentric performance, owning every shot with that charisma and penchant for luring viewers into an insane moment or two. When he fakes being drunk and pulls off one of the worst British accents ever? Priceless.