Customer Reviews: Kiss of the Damned
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on April 2, 2013
Kiss of the Damned pays homage to Italian horror cinema and Hammer Horror films of the 1970's, minus a lot of the cheesy qualities that plagued some of those films, most of which were due to budget restraints. This film doesn't boast a huge budget either, but clearly director Alexandra "Xan" Cassavetes knows how to effectively spend that small budget. No doubt her famous families background in cinema has given her the necessary tools to be a talented director in her own right. Her brother Nick Cassavetes directed Alpha Dog and the Notebook, her father was Guy Woodhouse in Rosemary's Baby, and she has previously made a documentary, but her Silver Screen directorial debut is impressive.

Albeit a vampire movie, it is a quintessential vampire movie, sticking to the traditional mythos that horror fans have come to expect. None of this Twilight nonsense of sparkling in daylight and playing baseball. Kiss of the Damned vampires are brooding, sad and sexy. This films oozes sexuality, as it should. In sticking to the source material of Bram Stoker's Dracula, vampire stories should be a love story at the core, sensual, provocative, intense, sad and dark. This movie is all of those things, so in regards to being a traditional vampire story , it is one. Some may be displeased that this story doesn't push the envelope or tell a story we haven't really seen before, I personally don't mind. Vampires aren't real, you can really only do so much with vampire stories and they have kind of all been done already.

Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes, Rocky Balboa) as Paolo gives a strong performance as he usually does, and has great chemistry with the female lead Josephine de La Baume as Djuna (Johnny English Reborn, Boogie Woogie). She is incredibly sexy, and plays a very provocative and enticing mistress of the dark. The relationship between the two is magnetic and enjoyable to watch. Roxane Mesquida (Rubber, The Last Mistress) as Mimi is an excellent complication for these two and their new found love for one another. The movie as a whole is enjoyable to watch (if you like hot female nudity and bloody gore, this is the best I've seen in a vampire movie in awhile, rivaling maybe only the HBO series True Blood) especially because of the superb Cinematography. Tobias Datum (with a long list of credits, this being his biggest feature to date) does an immaculate job setting up shot compositions and executing technical skill that most American movies lack. This movie looks foreign and old, only in the sense of camera movement. There are forced zooms and push ins that haven't really been utilized in cinema since the `70's that work brilliantly in this film. If I believed in the Oscars bulls***, Tobias should be nominated for best Cinematographer. The soundtrack for this movie is great as well. I was very pleased that the songs used in the trailer for this movie are actually in the film as well, which is rarely done. "Wucan" by Black Mountain is the most prominent song in the trailer and is displayed in a cool way in the film. Most aspects of this film work really well and are a welcome refreshment from a genre that has been plagued with too many failures in the last decade.

If you like Hammer Horror films, traditional vampire films, True Blood, hot female nudity, and intense love stories with a bumpy road ahead of them, this is something you'll most likely enjoy. I have to note that I think some people may have a problem with the frenetic editing and somewhat slow pacing. Like I said, this feels like a foreign film, no fast paced action or quick moving story that beats one over the head. Perhaps that for me, is part of the charm of this movie. And I don't doubt that some will have a problem with the denouement, but I liked it, and you may too. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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on April 27, 2013
I saw a trailer for this in a theater and turned to my friend and said, "This looks awful, but I would totally watch it." Then I found out it was written and directed by a daughter of John Cassavetes and it was available on demand, so I was intrigued and took a chance. Definitely the best vampire movie I've seen in a long time, stylish and less goofy than the trailer suggests. Retro and smart, glamorous and gritty, very satisfying.
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on September 12, 2013
I'm continually amazed how a subject which you think has no more gas left in the tank has new life breathed into it.

Here's the scoop. A screenwriter (Milo Ventmiglia) falls for a gal (Josephine de la Baume) who turns out to be a vampire. He finds this out but allows her to "turn" him because he's so in love with her. Her sister (also a vampire) arrives at the home and throws everything up for grabs.

Many have called this an homage to the 70's vampire flicks. Other than some cheesy, Euro sounding music from that period, I found this much better than what Hammer and like-minded studios were pushing back then. This is better all the way around. Certainly tech oriented aspects of film making have improved over the decades, so this looks a lot better than its predecessors. But the writing is much better as well. This digs deeper to the heart of what it's like to be a vampire in a human's world. There is even a rather philosophical discussion to that effect during one of the parties. Then there's sis, the loose cannon. The vampire community cannot afford to have someone like her running loose and killing at will. Her actions could destroy them in a heartbeat were she to draw too much attention. Then there's the acting. All the primary characters do a fine job. You build up sympathy for the two principals because they are genuinely in love. One odd note was the appearance of Michael Rapaport. He has nearly no screen time. How is it he's in this film? But I like him and he adds the weird Michael Rapaport 'thing' to the proceedings. But this is a very good effort overall.

I have a few years under my belt and have seen my share of vampire flicks. Too many of them offer up nothing new. So when something like this comes along, that whacks up the side of my head with a curve ball, it's well worth seeing.
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on September 13, 2014
I am a huge fan of Milo Ventimiglia! This movie was found on accident, going through his IMDb.. But it was so much worth it! I bought it, and watched it just 2 days later. It's an excellent addition to my collection. Just a warning for sexual content, and mild nudity. Nothing too bad, but not a movie I would watch with anyone under 17. Though I did feel it was a little cheesy... I mean a guy falls head over heels just LOOKING at her, he has to go back to her place and see her... and Don't get me started on the make out scene through the door... and the french accents give me a headache, and make me want to talk like a Frenchwoman. But Milo, MILO, MILO. Bravo!
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on October 31, 2015
Although it has some nice artistic visuals the film lacks a truly interesting plot. The male lead also comes across a bit wooden in his delivery. It plays out like a 70s euro style horror film using a sexual draw into what becomes more gore shock than horror.
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on April 18, 2013
Kiss of the Damned presents a Gothic romantic film that is nostalgic of classic vampire themes. The camera captures the essence of the hauntingly beautiful and separate world of the mystic vampires. The film showcases colour in a dreamy and melancholy atmosphere, from the intimate close up shots of lust and violence, to the isolated and sprawling landscape shot at twilight.

Kiss of the Damned is best described as a romantic thriller rather than a horror, as the bloodshed is pretty tame. The film uses a mixture of 70's European music and classical, creating stylised and cultured vampires who are forever suspended in a timeless vault of isolation and immortality.

A `homage' to vampire films of the 60's and 70's that captures the freedom and erotica of vampirism, without the moral arguments or judgements. Kiss of the Damned is a luscious canvas of colour and raw sexual desire, with some blood splattered scenes included for good measure. A simple storyline that would have benefited from building more complex characters and creating a less structured plot to ensure a lasting impression. An arty and poetic take on the creature of the night, expect more `The Hunger' than `Twilight', this however is not a negative comparison.

They dispense kisses...especially pecks on the neck...

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on September 1, 2014
Djuna (Joséphine de La Baume) is a vampire. She falls in love with Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia) and turns him. Wayward sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) comes to visit. Vampires get together and lament about their life blah, blah, blah.

This was pretty standard stuff. Except for the Apple product placement this could have been an Italian 70's film with the acting, scenery and music.

A fair film for vampire lovers.

Parental Guide: F-bomb, sex, nudity (Roxane Mesquida, Joséphine de La Baume)
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on June 23, 2013
"I would have done anything to be with you, however insane." Djuna (Baume) lives a lonely life. Only going out at night and mainly renting movies that she watches by herself. She has a huge beautiful house but the only person that visits is her housekeeper. One night at the video store she meets Paolo (Ventimigilia) but is afraid to talk to him. When he persists she reveals her secret to him. Djuna is a vampire. Both lives are changed forever. I have to admit that I am not a vampire movie fan at all, mainly because of the Twilight movies. This one has more of an Interview With A Vampire feel with the sexual aspect of True Blood. The movie had a very classy, almost operatic feel to it which really helped the movie. This is not a teen geared vampire movie, but it's also not Dracula either. If you are looking for something in the middle then this is for you. If you are a vampire movie fan you will enjoy this. I thought it was OK, but again I am not a big fan of this genre. Overall, if you liked Interview With A Vampire then you will most likely enjoy this one too. I give it a B-.
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on January 12, 2015
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this film: the director is Alexandra Cassavetes (nicknamed Xan Cassavetes), the daughter of the actor and director John Cassavetes and the actress Gena Rowlands, the granddaughter of the actress Katherine Cassavetes, and sister of the actor-director Nick Cassavetes. I think it’s safe to say film is “in her blood”.

This won favorable attention at the Venice Film Festival, London Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival. In other words, it has a strong European influence, consistent with the Cassavetes family background. As the lead male said about reading the script and accepting the role [I’m paraphrasing I’m sure] “I realized this is like a classic European love story—with a little bit of vampire thrown in. Nobody makes these kind of movies in the US anymore. So I said yes, immediately.” That lead male incidentally is Milo Ventimiglia, who plays the character named “Paulo”. The other main characters are Josephine de la Baume, whose character is named Djuna, and who falls in love with Paulo (and he with her), Roxane Mesquida, who plays Mimi her sister, and Anna Mouglalis who plays Xenia, who is like a mother to Djuna and Mimi—probably not their biological mother, but at least emotionally so.

How would I describe the film? Like a classic European love story with a little bit of vampire thrown in. In many ways, it’s like an intimate family drama film. See, there’s the essential problem with falling in love with and marrying or living with someone. You end up involved not just with them, but with their WHOLE FAMILY too, for better or for worse. Their family dynamics inevitably end up YOUR family dynamics, too.
As for the vampire business, this is not a movie heavy on gore. Mostly the vampires are more like the “Cullen” clan in the notorious Twilight series—trying not to kill humans for their survival, but surviving instead on animal blood (and even synthetic blood). There are some brief but interesting conversations among the vampires about the morality and/or superiority of vampires vs humans, which [as I’ve recently also been reading about World War I] one can easily extrapolate to the attitudes of the British, French or Germans toward the “natives” in their various colonies, like the Americas, Africa, India, China, and the Middle East…

I liked the musical score which also had a neo-classical tilt. Many of the interior scenes are extremely lavish, playing off the notion that vampires living for hundreds or thousands of years, they have plenty of time to accumulate a lot of wealth—and again one can compare this to imperial wealth earned off the sweat of subject peoples, or the more modern-day version of capitalist inequalities. The exterior scenes for the most part are at night because…well, you know, VAMPIRES…have some kind of problem with daylight, so they are generally visually much less impressive.

The dialog is almost entirely in English and the subtitling is also very well done. There wasn’t a lot to boast about in special features, though there are several interviews and a commentary track, for the terminally addicted. Audience ratings were not great; for example IMDb gave it a 5 out of 10, maybe because people were expecting a lot more vampire, and less family-dynamics going on. In that way, It’s one of those hybrid films which are hard to categorize and hard to properly advertise too, but it was way better than I feared, going in.
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on March 6, 2016
I'm not sure which came first, this movie or the one with Tom Hiddleston called "only lovers left alive". But, "Only lovers left alive" was tons better. I wanted to love this movie, "Kiss of the Damned" but couldn't and grudgingly gave it 3 stars. It should have been 2.4 stars. the stars Josephine de La Baume, sluggish and irritating and Milo Ventimilla ( I like this guy a lot in other things) just seemed to fade into the background. She inducts him after he virtually seduced her. He meets the clan and then along comes bad sister. Blah, blah, blah. Droll dreck. There was no excitement, no verve at all. With 2 such attractive leads there was no chemistry at all.
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