Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Kiss of the Damned: Euro Undead Vamping it up in America
are Old World creatures. They do not fit
so easily in America, or at least a big crowded city like New York. This is especially true of the reckless Mimi,
who creates all sorts of complications for her sister Djuna and her undead
sibling’s recently turned lover in Xan Cassavetes’ Kiss of the Damned (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.
vampires keep to themselves, making do with animal blood. Of course, the human kind is the good stuff,
but developing a taste for it is dangerous.
Mimi has done just that. In
contrast, Djuna is content living a quiet nocturnal existence in the isolated
mansion owned by Xena, the grand dame of vampires. Then one night, she catches Paolo’s eye in a
throwback video store (a vestige of the old).
her concern for his well being, sparks fly between her and the slacking off
screenwriter. She soon brings him over
to the undead, so they can un-live happily ever after. Unfortunately, Xenia sends her blood-lusting
sister Mimi to dry out with the blissful couple shortly thereafter. Not surprisingly, having an unstable nymphomaniac
with a taste for human blood in their midst puts a strain on pretty much
Xan Cassavetes is the daughter of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. As one might expect, she knows her art
cinema. While she is not afraid of a
little blood, she patiently sets the scene and establishes her characters
before getting down to the business end of vampirism. The result is an uber-stylish, devilishly indulgent
film. Fittingly, cinematographer Tobias
Datum renders it all with an evocative retro-Hammer color palette, luxuriating
in shades of red.
Djuna, Joséphine de la Baume is captivatingly elegant and sensual. Milo Ventimiglia is a bit stiff as Paolo, but
Roxanne Mesquida’s Mimi is quite the hot undead mess. She just radiates trouble
whenever she is on screen. Yet, the
unlikely Michael Rapaport nearly steals the show in his brief but riotous
appearances as Paolo’s crass agent.
Polished and seductive, Kiss of the Damned has a Euro art house sensibility, but it still
delivers the goods for vampire fans.
Clearly inspired by the Italian masters, Cassavetes demonstrates an
appreciation of the look and form of the genre.
Highly recommended for connoisseurs of continental horror and vampire
films, Kiss of the Damned opens this
Friday (5/3) in New York at the Landmark Sunshine.
Labels: Vampire films, Xan Cassavetes