Thursday, March 21, 2013

KISS OF THE DAMNED (2012) movie review

Kiss of the Damned (2012) (1st viewing) d. Cassavetes, Xan (USA)

Stymied screenwriter Milo Ventimiglia hooks up with sultry ginger Josephine de La Baume one night, only to discover that she’s a bit older than she looks—like, a lot older and looking g-o-o-d. Being the considerate sort, she doesn’t want things to get all hot n’ heavy too soon, knowing her proclivities for toothy shenanigans, but her latest paramour is up for anything.

Blood and juices are soon flowing and it seems like the beginning of a long-term relationship (heavy on the long). Unfortunately, there’s sassy sis Roxane Mesquida to contend with, and as concerned as de la Baume is with keeping things undercover, her brunette sibling is a hungry wild animal untamed.

Imagine a modern day Jean Rollin vampire film without the subtitles or questionable dubbing and you’ve pretty much nailed the vibe of writer/director Cassavetes’ debut narrative. (As a member of one of America’s more prestigious movie families, she’s been around the medium her entire life, and helmed the outstanding Z Channel documentary in 2004.) There’s ample flesh and blood on display, but as with the best horror efforts, there are also pointy ideas that stick in the mind and soul—questions regarding loyalty, life, love, pain, jealousy and the human condition when stretched out to eternity.

The superb balancing act between the mature and the sensational is what keeps the complimentary comparisons to Rollin, Hammer and other worthy Euro-horror classics coming; it’s to these bloodsucking brethren what Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was to scores of Hong Kong wire-fu classics. Cassavetes filters the essence of these sensual 70s adult fright flicks through modern American sensibilities, the result being an accessible yet faithful recreation that should find favor with both camps, as well as converting a few newbies ready to graduate beyond the Twilight films.

--Aaron Christensen, HorrorHound Magazine

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