Saturday, October 5, 2013

October Scares: "Kiss Of The Damned" is Horror with an Art House Flair

Kiss of the Damned (2012) is a stylish vampire tale from Writer-Director Xan Cassavettes. It recalls previous horror films like Blood & Roses (1960) & The Hunger (1983). It’s the story of Djuna, a vampiress who lives a lonely existence. In the world of this film, the undead are part of society, but live in secret and drink blood substitutes; they no longer hunt humans. Djuna falls in love with Paolo, a screenwriter, after initially spurning his advances. She soon turns him into one of the undead, so they can be together forever. They move through the night-time world of fellow vampires who are actresses, writers & other normal members of society, who are determined to live their lives among humans without raising suspicions.

Then her unstable sister (who’s also a vampire) shows up, and things go awry. The sexy, headstrong and reckless Mimi starts feeding on humans & causing strife between the couple. She becomes a threat not only to Djuna & Paolo, but the vampires’ world in general. Djuna appeals to the vampire elite, but no one sees the true problem posed by the violent, manipulative Mimi. And is there a little streak of Mimi’s wildness in Djuna? What happened to Paolo’s agent, who disappears after his visit to their home? Before the story's over, the characters learns a little bit about the dark side that lurks just beneath the surface of all beings, human or supernatural. After all, we're all monsters to someone, aren't we?

This is really more of a mood piece than a horror film, with a very European flavor; it’s well directed by Cassavettes, who’s the daughter of actor John Cassavettes & Gena Rowlands, and the sister of director Nick Cassavettes. The movie is kind of an “art-house” vampire film; it has a great visual style, with excellent cinematography by Tobias Datum and an evocative score by Steven Hufsteter. There are good performances by Milo Ventimiglia, Joséphine de La Baume and especially Roxanne Mesquida as Mimi. The slow pace of the story may turn off some viewers, but it’s worth viewing if you’re a fan of the type of films mentioned above, or are tired of the Twilight-era “teen romance” interpretations of vampires. Please note this is an R-rated film, not fit for family viewing. Kiss of The Damned is available for digital viewing and download on Amazon & Netflix. Here’s a link to the film’s trailer:

Next week: The October fright-fest continues with a look at Insidious: Chapter 2

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