Kiss of the Damned: Oversexed Vampires

“Kiss of the Damned,” Xan Cassavetes’ first narrative film, following the well-received 2004 documentary “Z Channel: Magnificent Obsession” is a typical tweener made by a fledgling director.

Walking a fine line between eurotrash and art film, a legit Vampire tale and a gory midnight fare, with lesbian overtones, “Kiss of the Damned” seldom finds its right narrative veins—or tone, for that matter.

In the production notes, the director claims not to be a fanatical vampire person, though she acknowledges the influence of the look, formality and atmosphere European art films on her feature debut.

Xan must have watched many vampire movies, Italian work s by maestro Dario Argento, American-made The Hunger by the British director Tony Scott, which became a cult work due to its glorious cast, Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie, and the notorious lesbian scene between the two gorgeous femmes (shot, alas, with body doubles!).

With the exception of the visual style, everything about the film is second rate, beginning with the generic title, which may pay tribute to the good indie Vampire’s Kiss as well as to numerous American and Italian horror flick with Damned in their title.

As written by Xan, the text is not deep enough to qualify as a metaphysical or philosophical exploration of vampires’ eternal search meaning in their life.

What sets this movie apart is its erotic element: The vampires are perpetually horny, oversexed vampires, never fully satisfied even after attacking innocent American thrill seekers who are their most likely victims.

Unfolding as a fable or fairytale, “Kiss of the Damned” is set in an isolated house in the countryside of Connecticutt. The flimsy plot (such as it is ) centers on Djuna (Josephine de La Baume), a beautiful and eccentric woman, who sleeps during the day and hunts at night. Her needs are taken of by the loyal and human servant, Irene (Ching Valdes-Aran).

For a while, Djuna tries to resist the advances of the handsome and seductive screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia), who is a normal human. However, predictably, with time, she gives in to his allure and they fall in love.

Their domestic bliss is shattered upon the unexpected arrival of Djuna’s sister, Mimi (Roxane Mesquida). The two sisters don’t get along—each thinks the other is more troubled.

Mimi, it turns out, is on her way to rehab in Phoenix, sponsored by Xenia (Anna Mouglalis), a famous Broadway actress. When Xenia suggests to her fellow vampires to substitute humans with animals’ blood, her provocative idea leads to a vivid debate in the vampire’s commune.

Of the actors, Michael Rapaport is particularly strong in playing a blood-sucking Hollywood agent, though the satirical jabs at the industry are mild. One can only imagine what a director like John Waters or Almodovar would have made with such subject matter back in the 1970s or 1980s.

Cinematographer Tobias Datum gives the saga a spooky aura with lurid colors and excessive visuals that are suitable to the tale and are impressive, considering what must have been a low-budget feature .

The daughter of the late John Cassavetes and the very much alive Gena Rowlands and younger sister to director Nick Cassavetes, I have a feeling that her distinguished father would not have liked her picture.