Venice 12 – Critics’ Week – Closing Night Film
Beautiful vampire Djuna (Josephine de La Baume) tries to resist the advances of handsome human scriptwriter Paulo (Milo Ventimiglia), but eventually gives in to passion. When her troublemaker sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) arrives unexpectedly, Djuna’s love story is threatened and the whole vampire community becomes endangered…
Sexy first fiction feature from the director of the acclaimed documentary Z CHANNEL: A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION.
Josephine de La Baume
A sly tongue-in-cheek tribute to old-school horror films, especially Tony Scott's "The Hunger" and "giallo" maestros like Mario Bava and Dario Argento, Xan Cassavetes' vampire story "Kiss of the Damned" reps a fitting debut feature from the director of movie-buff-tastic docu "Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession." Saucily thumbing its nose at the insipid teen-love of the "Twilight" franchise, "Kiss" reimagines its bloodsuckers as horny, supercilious Euro-trash with addiction issues, sucking the life blood from naive American thrill-seekers. Rapacious lovers of cult cinema will sink their fangs into this… "Kiss" is veritably soaked in the blood of movie lore, riffing on De Sica and Bunuel, among others, with digs at the industry that include a blood-sucking agent… Visuals are lush, and the colors slightly lurid in a good, '80s way that matches the femmes' subtly retro fashions. The quick-cut hunting scenes are referential and genuinely creepy. The rest of the tech credits are pro, especially the spooky mesh of sound and music.
— Leslie Felperin, VARIETY
Daughter of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, and director of cinephilia documentary Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, Xan Cassavetes was never going to make a standard-issue vampire movie. Her feature debut, Kiss Of The Damned, mixes explicit nods to Italian horror fare of the sixties and seventies (especially the films of Mario Bava) with turbo-charged eroticism and tongue-in-cheek humour, together with a more reflective strain that analyses the social and psychological strains of everyday vampire life… Enough gore and steamy softcore sex to keep things ticking over… It will get its fangs into genre fanboys and Tarantino-style cineastes… What Kiss Of The Damned adds to the genre is a focus on the social and psychological strains on a vampire class that lives in the same relationship with the ‘lay’ world around them… Cassavetes’ vampires, who all seem fairly well off, live alongside ordinary mortals but have a Masonic-style parallel social network, meeting up for evening gatherings where they sip blood aperitifs… There’s enough fang-sinking, tomato sauce and squelchy sound effects to keep us from feeling peckish. And a soundtrack that cites classic Italo film music composers like Sante Maria Romitelli will keep the genre geeks happy.
— Lee Marshall, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
Xan Cassavetes' new film offers a hipster take on the ongoing vampire craze, while paying homage to genre icons of the '60s and '70s... sexy vampires are very much to the fore in writer-director Xan Cassavetes' belated fictional debut Kiss of the Damned... steamy... adults-only blend of eroticism and gore... The presence of French midnight-movie favorite Roxane Mesquida (Sheitan, Kaboom, Rubber) will meanwhile undoubtedly delight myriad gorehounds... Anna Mouglalis' exquisitely regal poise enables her to follow in the immaculatedly-clad footsteps of Delphine Seyrig, Celeste Yarnall and Catherine Deneuve... bloody, sexy shenanigans... widescreen splendor by cinematographer Tobias Datum... The chestnut-locked Josephine de la Baume - wife of Mark Ronson, model, pop- singer and general 'person of interest' among the hipster demi-monde - registers as more than merely a toothsome presence...
— Neil Young, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER