Vampires should not be sparkly teenagers full of angst and awkwardness, at least not in my opinion. Somewhere in the last few years, all of the elements that made the vampire character so damn appealing, have been sucked up and recycled into the current trend of whatever passes for bloodsuckers these days. The same could be said for zombies, werewolves and many other creatures that were once mysterious, dangerous, and downright sexy. Our beloved horror creatures have become household objects that are not only safe for the whole family, but are only watered down remnants of the scary as hell creatures that growing up, made me smile.
Luckily, that mysterious and gorgeously sexy approach to vampires is set for a return, in Xan Cassavetes’s KISS OF THE DAMNED. It’s a sexually charged and beautifully shot tale of love, death and a bloody as hell rivalry between two vampire sisters.
KISS OF THE DAMNED tells the story of Paolo, a young screenwriter played by Milo Ventimiglia (THE DIVIDE, CURSED, HEROES) who encounters and is instantly enamored by Djuna (Joséphine de La Baume), a french beauty that is a bit standoff-ish due to a “skin disease” that prohibits her from being in the sunlight. That doesn’t stop Paolo from courting Djuna, and eventually she gives in, but not before showing Paolo the truth, that she’s a vampire. Chaining herself to the bed and becoming bloodthirsty, Djuna shows herself in her vampire entirety to Paolo and in the one of the sexiest scenes in recent horror history, Paolo unchains her and they have sex, ending in Djuna biting and turning Paolo into her vampire lover.
Given a newly immortal life, Paolo discovers what he’s been missing, and he and Djuna hunt and feed together, living a bloodsucking love story full of sex and blood. All is well for them, until their life is interrupted by Djuna’s feisty as hell sister, Mimi (Roxane Mesquida, RUBBER, KABOOM!), a carefree, murderous and manipulative beast of a girl.
Almost immediately, Mimi creates complete chaos in Djuna and Paolo’s life, leaving a string of dead bodies, and not taking the rules set by the vampire elite seriously. Mimi’s definitely carrying out her own agenda, and does her best to ascend higher in the vampipre ranks by any means possible, leading to blackmail, murder and eventually some comeuppance that I’ll refrain from elaborating on any further. KISS OF THE DAMNED isn’t a film that needs to be full explained, story-wise, but a film that needs to be experienced as a visually beautiful and seductive tale of blood and sex.
With all of that being said though, KISS OF THE DAMNED isn’t for everyone. Viewers that are used to, or insist on their films to be cut and dry, A to B plot-typed films, probably won’t appreciate it as much as someone who loves to be full engrossed visually, watching the film play out through a set of seductive scenes that use some of the most gorgeous lighting and color palettes in a good while, allowing the film’s plot to wrap around that. Being a huge fan of Xan’s father, legendary director John Cassavetes, walking into the film I wondered if the same fly on the wall, unflinchingly real acting and writing styles would translate to her filmmaking, and thankfully, Xan goes for a completely different approach.
It’s great to see a director that carves their own niche, and finds their own style of filmmaking, instead of following the footsteps of the paths set by their parents. Xan really holds her own as a director with KISS OF THE DAMNED, and if this film is any indication of what skill she holds, consider me interested in what she’ll offer next.
KISS OF THE DAMNED is now available on VOD, with a limited theatrical engagement beginning May 3rd VIA MAGNET RELEASING.