Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kiss of the Damned, Sophisticated Vampires

Everything about 2012's "Kiss of the Damned" exudes Euro-horror.  Stylish, elitist, classical music, sipping expensive wine instead of Pabst Blue Ribbon, accents, manners, and tasteful lingerie indicate this movie has an air of sophistication about it.  Filmed in New York, writer and director Xan Cassavetes does a masterful job keeping her film relevant to the widest range of viewers.  In addition to very attractive characters, she even throws in a scene where Elvis Presley's real life granddaughter (Riley Keough) is drained of blood by by the most sophisticated of bloodsuckers.
As our story begins, Djuna (Josephine de la Baume) lives alone in a Long Island mansion.  She translates poetry for a living, and watches VHS tapes of old love stories.  She is a vampire, and for the most part stays away from humans.  Her life gets complicated when she meets Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia) while returning tapes to the video store.  They fall in love, and he ends up back at her mansion.  She confesses her vampirism to him and tells him they could never be together.  At first she told him she had a rare skin condition and could not go out in daylight...which guy has not heard that line before?  She proves it to him by having him chain her to the bed while she grows her teeth (see above picture).  This turns him on, and he allows her to change him into a vampire so they can be with each other forever.  The transition is smooth as Djuna creates a home office for Paolo (a semi-successful screenwriter) in the mansion.  The two sip wine or blood together, have a lot of sex, and do all sorts of sophisticated things together.  Uh oh.....a surprise visitor.  Mimi (Roxanne Mesquida) arrives and announces she is staying a week.  Also a vampire, hardly sophisticated, Mimi is on her way to Phoenix to go to a vampire rehab because her thirst for blood has gotten too severe.  After all, the first step to wellness is admitting you have a problem, for this we need to applaud Mimi.
Mimi and Djuna do not get along.  Mimi is a semi-Goth who is into partying and threesomes, and biting any guy who comes onto her.  Her free will alarms Djuna as she believes Mimi's behavior will bring undue attention to the secret vampire community.  As impulsive as Mimi is, she might be the smartest bloodsucker this side of the sod.  She continues partying, and brings some of her victims back to the mansion for orgies before eating them.  She even is able to seduce Paolo in the shower.  The queen of the vampires is even victimized by Mimi.  Xenia (Anna Mouglalis) , an actress, is determined to send Mimi to Phoenix, but Mimi wants the beautiful life in New York City.  Taking advantage of every vampire's hunger, Mimi strategically places Elvis Presley's granddaughter in Xenia's apartment at feeding time, and Xenia can't resist. (see picture below).  To cover up this embarrassing lack of judgment, Xenia enlists Mimi's help.  As Djuna and Paolo go to elite vampire parties and discuss human-vampire relations, Mimi plots.  
For us the viewer, even though Mimi is the villain, we kind of cheer for her.  Djuna, Paolo, and Xenia would have nothing to do with us.....but Mimi?  Mimi seems like the sort who would have a Moosehead or Blue Moon with us...and then drink our blood.  What is Mimi's overall plan?  Will Djuna and Paolo ever loosen up?  As the final 30 minutes hit, subtle twists occur which cast doubt on the sophistication and refinement of Djuna.  Is Mimi really the evil one?  The ending is unusual but satisfying.  The acting is terrific and the musical score is truly outstanding.  Xan Cassavetes writing and directing is magnificent.  See "Kiss of the Damned" and feel free to have Heineken or Hoegaarden with it to enhance the European flavor of this work.    


  1. This makes me think a bit about the BBC series "Being Human". Have you ever watched that?

  2. I want to watch this film. It reminds me of The Hunger in a sense. A sophisticated vamp romp with beautiful people. Good review.