The thing about streaming Nicolas Cage movies in 2021 is, once you’ve watched one, five more seem to pop up in its place. And if you pick one of the weirder, lesser-known films (at least by today’s standards), suddenly your algorithm-curated suggestions absolutely overfloweth with the Cagester.
When I say “the Cagester,” I’m not referring to good Nicolas Cage movies like Raising Arizona or Moonstruck. I’m not talking about fun romps like The Rock, Con Air or even National Treasure. And no, while Adaptation is certainly weird, it’s also ridiculously good and too well-written to allow the Cagester to truly emerge.
I’m talking about the movies that made Nicolas Cage into not just an actor, but his own genre. The ones where his hair never seems to fit on his head. These are the films where ol’ Nicky Coppola is at his Cagiest, the flicks that make it easy to forget that he’s actually a decent actor when properly tethered and passably groomed. They are also the Cage movies I happen to most enjoy a beer with.
Strap in, we’re going to need some pretty high ABVs, rare flavors and/or ingredients for these five incredibly weird, delightfully uncomfortable flicks. Fair warning if you haven’t seen them all, there are a few spoilers ahead.
Face/Off and Track 7 Thiccolas Cage
Man I love and hate Face/Off. In this highly entertaining John Woo action-Sci Fi from 1997, Nicolas Cage gets his face stolen by John Travolta (who is the good guy cop, by the way, and so apparently there’s nothing morally wrong with surgically swiping off a criminal’s face whilst he’s unconscious and under arrest). Naturally, a rage-filled, now-faceless Cage retaliates by taking Travolta’s face that’s being held on standby, and, you guys, that’s just the setup. Things get even more bonkers from there, and in addition to getting to see the Cagester in full action, there are some very uncomfortable scenes with John Travolta-as-Nicolas Cage hitting on his own daughter. There’s also space prison (okay, it’s really a secret top-security Earth prison, but it might as well be space prison), along with a very stylized shootout in a ’90s swanky apartment and a totally wasted Gina Gershon. Good stuff. And it all holds up well decades later (cue Borat “Not!“ here).
So what kind of beer, you ask, could possibly be worthy of pairing with this madness? That would be Thiccolas Cage from Sacramento’s Track 7 Brewing Co. This is a massive Imperial Stout with vanilla that, like the Cagester, lays it on THICK. Plus much like the ridiculous plot of Face/Off, only seems to get more complex every time you return for more. It also packs a crazy-buzzing 11.5% ABV, if the movie doesn’t get you dizzy enough.
By the way, a close second choice for a beer pairing here would be literally anything with brewed with peach. Then you can work on your best Cagester impression: “I could eat a peach for hours.”
The Wicker Man and Boxing Bear Sucker Punch
What kind of Nicolas Cage list would this be without the 2006 remake, The Wicker Man? Of course it’s up there on the “weird” scale, if not for being a wholly bizarre movie but for the actor giving one of the weirder performances of his career. For a movie that’s trying to be a frightening thriller about a cop investigating a cult of Neo-pagans, it’s unintentionally hilarious, and much of that is due to the Cagester.
Okay, I won’t wait any longer: “NOT THE BEES!”
But seriously, while everyone likes to mention the bee scene, the part I find funniest is the scene where the Cagester, dressed up in a bear suit, runs up and slugs a girl in the face. It comes out of nowhere, and I burst out laughing all both times I’ve watched this movie.
That’s why I’ve decided to go with Sucker Punch Double IPA from Albuquerque’s Boxing Bear. It’s not overly weird, but it truly does pack a punch (especially for an IPA) at 8.1% ABV. It’s also a super hopped-up West Coast style that flows with pine notes, so sipping it is kinda like being out in the forest along with Cage and the cultists. But hey, if the bee scene is still your favorite, you can always go with a Honey Ale like Melvin Brewing’s Killer Bees Blonde.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Superstition Meadery Dancing Goat
Objectively speaking, this 2009 movie is worlds better than Face/Off. And it’s directed by none other than Werner Herzog, who is weird in his own way but, unlike the Cagester, you could invite him to your house for dinner and not have to worry about any sudden somersaults, karate kicks, money throwing, or stripping (all of which our boy Nicolas did in a real BBC interview, by the way). But there are still plenty of delightful outbursts here in Bad Lieutenant.
To sum it up briefly, this flick follows the story of a corrupt cop who is also a drug addict and frequently hallucinates seeing iguanas. So, it’s already pretty nuts. But one of the most memorable scenes by far is where the Cagester gets fully unleashed and orders his cohorts to shoot some dead bodies because the “soul is still dancing.” We get a trademark Cagester gasp-laugh, and it’s glorious.
Which brings me to the beer I’m drinking with it. Actually, Dancing Goat is a Mead, because that just feels like a more appropriately bizarre choice for Cage’s looney tunes cop. But here’s where it really gets weird: Superstition Meadery crafted this Metheglin-style Mead with not just honey, but spices and coffee, AND they gave it a mind-numbing 15.5% ABV. It’s surprisingly good but certainly not something I can handle all the time, much like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Ghostfish Ghost Pepper Saison
No, not the first Ghost Rider but the second! This 2011 sequel is where the Cagester returns in all his fiery glory to take names and souls. Also, he has a Rotten Tomatoes calls this “a Nic Cage performance so predictably loony it’s no longer amusing,” but I disagree. It’s VERY amusing. Also, the original Ghost Rider character from the comics is pretty eccentric and kinda nuts, so it’s Cage right in his element.
That “Angel Rider” ending? Both terrible and fantastic. After being asked if he won the battle, Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider says, “yes,” then flares his eyes all Cagester-wide and amps it up to “HELL yes.” Cut to shot the Angel Rider tearing down the highway in the night with Cage’s voiceover reminding everyone, “My name is Johnny Blaze. I’m the Ghost Rider.”
The end. Clap. Clap. Clap. You know what’s far more badass than that though? Ghost Pepper Saison from Seattle’s Ghostfish Brewing. This unique Farmhouse style is brewed with actual ghost peppers, which, yes, are some of the hottest peps on the planet. Just like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance calms down the action a tad by forcing Johnny Blaze to become buddies with a child, the Ghostfish crew keeps the brew’s heat drinkable with citrus and pine notes from Cascade and Mt. Hood hops. The 6% ABV beer is also gluten-free, which for some reason strikes me as something the Cagester would be into (not for health reasons, but more for being difficult while dining with others. Remember when I said Werner Herzog would probably make a better dinner guest?)
Vampire’s Kiss and Funky Buddha More Moro Blood Orange
Vampire’s Kiss has got to be the weirdest, cagiest Nicolas Cage movie ever made. It was released back in 1989 too, so it’s kinda impressive that it hasn’t been topped so far (Cage has a really meta-looking movie coming out in March though, so we’ll see).
In this black comedy/drama, Cage plays a very mentally unstable (of course) literary agent who believes he was bitten by a vampire (played delightfully by Jennifer Beals of Flashdance fame). I still can’t decide whether or not Vampire’s Kiss is even a good movie, but if you want to see the Cagester in full-on crazy mode, this is it right here. His performance is so over-the-top and so gosh darn weird. He even eats a live cockroach in one of the shots, though apparently the actor wanted it to be a live bat. There are meme-worthy moments all over the place, but you probably know this one best:
If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, at least watch the second half. And while you’re watching the Cagester play around with plastic fangs and prance around with his eyes as wide as two full moons, grab a beer like More Moro Blood Orange. Hailing from Oakland Park, Florida, Funky Buddha used “caramel malts and grapefruity hops to produce the sticky, citrus blast that we crave.” But the real draw is that they also brewed this Fruit Beer with moro, which is basically the bloodiest blood orange there is.