“Kiss of the Damned”: Pretty People in fabulous fashion looking for devotion (and/or dinner)

Xan Cassavetes, daughter of the famous director, John Cassevetes, has directed her first feature film; a vampire thriller in the fashion of Italian horror films or “gialla”.  In her interview in IndieWire, http://www.indiewire.com/article/xan-cassevetes-kiss-of-the-damned,  she disdains the “Twilight” films, “that’s a movie for children”, and sets the bar high with aspirations to make a film compared to the seminal classy and erotic, vampire film, “The Hunger”.

Opening in a mysterious mansion with long tracking shots down empty hallways, peering down spiral staircases, there are several shots of a young attractive woman wandering the mansion.  She lights candles.  Pensively watches an old black and white film.  The full moon illuminates the room as she  paces listlessly in her floor-length skirt.  Then, in a jarring edit, ominous music and tight camera shots take us outside to someone stalking some thing.  At the preview screening, the audience began tittering.  By the second jump cut, showing more underbrush and ferns, the audience was outright laughing.

Any hope that this was going to be classy affair are quickly dashed.

“Kiss of The Damned” is, instead,  a fun, rollicking affair.  Fabulous dresses, campy acting and lines that thud like leaden weight.  Scenes meant to be erotic are so silly that you wonder if any of this is meant to be taken seriously.  There’s a full moon in almost every shot.  There’s a seduction scene involving large fake chains and a make-out session that takes place through a door barred only by the security chain!  At least twice, one of our leads opens with… “There’s something I need to ask…” or “There’s something I need to tell you…” and then proceeds to explain some basic premise.  This is not a film of mystery.  The only mystery is how this film will be received by general audiences.  Will they see that Xan Cassavetes “intends” a camp style and embrace the exaggerated (and fake-looking) gore and stylized acting?

It’s not quite a spoof of vampire movies but more of a celebration of them; whether it’s seen as such, only time will tell.

Rating: 1 shot of synthetic blood (in the hopes Xan Cassavetes will make a better film next time)

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