Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kiss of the Damned

Directed by Xan Cassavetes.
2012, Rated R, 97 minutes. 
Josephine de La Baume 
Milo Ventimiglia 
Roxane Mesquida 
Anna Mouglalis 
Michael Rapaport 
Riley Keough 
Juan Luis Acevedo

Boy Paolo (Ventimiglia) meets girl Djuna (de La Baume) one night in a video store. 'Member those? Right then they go on an impromptu date. It goes so well she invites him back to her place. Just before they get down to the nitty gritty, she switches gears and kicks him out. Damn. Hate when that happens. Still, he's so smitten he returns to her house the next night. She won't let him in because of her "condition." Since he's a persistent bastard, she agrees to give him a big sloppy kiss and winds up biting his lip so hard that it bleeds and sends him packing again. Ouch. Unable to take a hint, he approaches her later when he spots her out and about. What the hell, dude? No means no. Well, sorta, in this case. He again sweet talks his way into her place. Realizing this guy will stop at nothing to get in her pants, she finally lets him know what her condition is. Djuna...yes, Tarantino fans, the D is a vampire. She's usually able to control herself, but she has a very dangerous "O face." Of course, Paolo doesn't believe any of this, blinded by his raging hard-on and all. To prove it, she has him literally chain her to her bed, which seems to be right up his alley, and lets him get to work. Sure enough, before he even gets little Paolo out, Djuna grows fangs.

Dear reader, I must pause right here in the middle of the recap section of the review to inject myself into the movie. After the lip biting incident I'd be done with her. Let's suppose I wasn't, though. When she brings out the chains, that's my nex cue to get away. Bondage ain't my thing. Okay, maybe she is so fine and I'm just horny enough to stay. In that case, we'd have to figure a way to restrain her head (something they didn't do whatsoever) on the off chance she really is a vampire because I'm planning on being in close proximity. Know what I'm sayin'? If while I'm getting my semi-necrophilia on, she sprouts fangs, whatever courage I had would suddenly go soft as I bolted out of door ASAP. No way in hell would I do what Paolo does. Now back to our regularly scheduled review.

Paolo acts all taken aback, poorly acts I should say, and Djuna bursts into tears. then, yes, he removes her from her shackles. Before you know it, he puts the biscuit in the basket and she gives him one hell of a hickie. The next day, he wakes up to the obvious: he's been Dracularized. They live together in undead bliss until Djuna's crazy sister Mimi (Mesquida) shows up and moves herself in. She is also a vampire. Everyone in the vampire world trying  to deal with this chick's insanity ensues.

Kiss of the Damned presents some nice ideas and takes vampire lore in an interesting direction. Vampirism is often used as a metaphor for something in the real world. In this case, it's drug addiction. In the film's universe most civilized vampires are like recovering addicts. They only drink synthetic blood when they can get it and hunt down an animal when they can't. Those that dine regularly on humans are the ones who still get high and they'll do anything to get their fix. This describes Mimi to a tee. There is much talk of sending her to rehab. However, this is a vampire flick so we're not working up to some tearful intervention. Mimi is clearly the villain. She's a fun one and gets better as things move along.

The whole movie gets better as it goes. Early on, we are distracted by some atrocious acting with only slightly better dialogue. Then, we're nearly bored by the prospect of sitting through yet another cheesy love stoy, no matter how much sex they have. And they have plenty. Then a funny thing happens. Mimi kicks her antics into high gear and the story gets fascinating. We are roped in to her sinister plotting and begin thinking about how Djuna and/or Paolo are going to stop her. Unfortunately, the movie then pricks our balloon with a sharp needle when it simply aborts itself.

Wait, what?

I'll explain.

Kiss of the Damned ends on a completely random and unsatisfying note. It could be construed as a commentary on the dangers of addiction. If so, it's too clever by half. The problem is it has nothing to do with anyone doing anything to resolve our conflict. On top of this, a human character is involved which only serves to highlight the fact we should have gotten to know her way better than we did. She briefly appears a couple times before the climactic scene. The best way for me to describe what happens without spoiling it is to say "oops." It's the type of finale a movie can get away with if it passes itself off as a slice of life story, or maybe if it's a Coen Brothers flick. Here, it just makes me want to grab a wooden stake and hunt down the director.


  1. I actually saw this, well at least until Mimi arrive. The dialogue was bad and the acting was just too awkward and stagey. I couldn't continue past that.
    Wandering through the Shelves

    1. Can't say that I blame you. Even after it gets better it's still no masterpiece.