Hello again Brothers and Sisters of the Psychotronic Video World! The other day Fearless Leader Wes sent me a link to a screener copy of a new vampire film from filmmaker Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes (daughter of the famed John Cassavetes) entitled KISS OF THE DAMNED. Vampires are probably the second most overused monsters in cinema right now, just behind zombies, but I agreed to give it a watch and write up a review.
I’m damn glad I did, because this is probably one of the best vampire flicks I’ve seen since 1999’s SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE.
The film follows beautiful vampiress Djuna (portrayed by singer/songwriter/actress/model Joséphine de La Baume) as she falls for the handsome and mortal Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia, whom I know best for playing Rocky Balboa’s son in the most recent ROCKY movie), a human screenwriter who is skeptical of the existence of vampires. At first Djuna is reluctant, not wanting the complications of trying to foster romance, or even sexual intimacy for that matter, between a mortal and an immortal. She and Paolo eventually give in to their passions, however, and quickly become lovers. However, when Djuna’s sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida, whom most people here will recognize for her turn as “Sheila” in 2010’s RUBBER) shows up unannounced, Djuna begins to realize that she even her worst fears regarding complications won’t begin to match what’s coming…
First up, let me just say that everything about this film is beautiful. The cast is made up of beautiful people, with both de La Baume and Mesquida being fashion models as well as actresses, while Ventimiglia has been ranked as the Sexiest Vegetarian by PETA. The film’s color palette is stunning, really rich in deep, melancholy blues that evoke sensations of loneliness, despair, and of long nights spent out and about for no other reason then that it’s there to be out in. This blue is contrasted and intensified with hot, overwhelming ambers and vivid, fiery reds that just hammer into the viewer’s retinas. Paolo at one point comments on how his vision has intensified since meeting Djuna, and the film allows the viewer to vicariously enjoy that intensified vision along with him.
When most people mention the concept of “vampire romance,” we all grab our torches and pitchforks, visions of Twilight dancing in our heads. KISS OF THE DAMNED, while glamorizing the undead to an extent, does not fall into this trap. The characters are sexual and passionate, with a real chemistry that doesn’t spiral into schmaltzy platitude-spouting lovey-dovey bullcrap. And when Djuna sinks her teeth into Paolo’s neck, she leaves puncture wounds you could dip a finger into. Jesus.
KISS OF THE DAMNED screened at SXSW festival, and has a street release date in the United States of May 23rd, 2013. By all means, check it out.